Features and Performance
GearGuard is a security system for photographers, devised by Gary Fong who wanted better protection for his kit while out on assignment. Gary created security locks for cameras, lenses and bags to secure and lock items to static fixtures such as a tables or fences.
There are also Pro Kits for Nikon and Canon that bring the range of the GearGuard products together for a full security system at a considerable saving over the individual pieces.
We're looking at the GearGuard Pro Kit for Nikon which, like the Canon version, comprises one GearGuard Camera Body Lock, two large GearGuard Camera Bag Locks, one GearGuard Lens Lock, two GearGuard 36 inch Security Cables and two TSA-Approved Combination Locks.
Gary Fong GearGuard Features & Performance
1 The GearGuard Camera Bag Lock
The camera bag lock slides over the quick-release buckle on a camera bag and locks in place to prevent anyone gaining access by unclipping the buckle. It will come in handy for photographers shooting in crowded areas with the bag on their back/shoulder or for those who need to leave their bag unattended for a few minutes. It has a depth of 20mm so will cover most standard bag buckle systems.
Once in place you thread a cable through or attach a padlock directly to the unit. It works well in covering the clip, but many modern bags can still be entered via side or top entrances. That said it may make the job slower and may give you enough time to spot an intruder and prevent those thieves who try to access the bag while it's on your back in a crowd.
2 The GearGuard Camera Body Lock
The camera body lock mounts to your camera base and can then be chained to a table or fence so you can leave it unattended. It's in two parts, comprising a mounting plate and security plate. The mounting plate screws on to your camera's tripod mount like a standard quick-release plate. It has a tripod mount in the center so you can still connect your camera to a tripod when the Body Lock is attached.
The security plate slides over the top of this to hide the tripod screw lock inside of its hard shell. You then lock the two together using cable and a lock. With a cable threaded it's impossible to remove the plate and an angled lip stops it from rotating so you cannot unscrew the whole thing either.
You can't tighten the tripod thread tight enough by hand, so a slot is provided for a coin but larger coins such as a two pence piece or 10 pence are too thick. A one pence piece works but it's barely wide enough to cover the tripod hole. This slot could be just a fraction wider. It's probably designed for US coins.
The locking plate can be left on when using the camera even though the plate protrudes it doesn't poke you in the eye or stab you in the face. And it makes a good protector when you place the camera on a rough surface that might normally scratch the base.
The only downside to the camera lock is that the lens can still be removed from the body if the thief knows a thing or two about cameras. So you may still feel uncomfortable leaving the camera unattended.
3 The GearGuard Lens Lock
The lens lock is a single unit that attaches to the camera mount on your lens just like it's the camera body and then you rotate the outer lock loop so that it overlaps the inner loop. You then thread a cable through and tether the lens to a fixed anchor point. Several lenses can be linked using additional Lens Locks.
In use the Nikon version seems very crudely made and, unlike the other two items, this needs a precision design so the mount connects to the lens easily. It can take several attempts to align correctly before the lens twists in its bayonet mount ready to lock. If you were in a rush this would be annoying. That said once in place you cannot remove the lens.
Also, when the cable is threaded through, the lens doesn't stand up safely so would need to be laid on its side to avoid it toppling over. If in design the looped hole could be rotated 90degrees the cord could slip through and allow the lens to stand upright.
Several items can be linked and locked with one cable. The thief would have to take the chair too in the above scenario.
4 The GearGuard Security Cable
The security cable is a strong rubber coated braided wire cable that you loop around a static point and then thread through the various GearGuard locks before locking with the padlock.
It's flexible and really strong. Its 36 inch length is enough cable to tie to a chair, and have several items, including your bag, secured on a table while you visit a toilet or pay a bill.
The press material says it cannot be cut through using pliers so in true ePHOTOzine test style we had a go, and they are right. After four attempts and a strong grip the rubber was cut through and the braided wire was bent, but it didn't snap.
I'm sure a professional thief would have cutters that would rip through, but it will prevent normal tourist style theft.
5 The GearGuard TSA-Approved Combination Lock
This is a rotary dialing combination key lock that is used to secure the cables to the items and fixed point. You set a three digit combination and then it registers and works with that. Not a lot to say - it's a standard style lock that does its job.
Again I'm sure there are lock crackers who could break it but for standard theft it's a good prevention, and the 10x20mm loop is big enough for many other uses too.
Gary Fong GearGuard Verdict
This is a well thought out solution to camera theft. With the items secured it will prevent casual theft that is common around the world. It might not detract the pro who will have the tools to crack or break the locks, but those are far less commonplace.
Other than the few flaws, such as the thin slot for the tripod plate lock, camera bag access via different entrances and the crude bayonet lens mount, this is a good system, and worth the money for those wanting peace of mind while in crowded areas with expensive equipment.
|A small price to pay for the knowledge that your expensive camera kit is safe.
Gary Fong GearGuard Pros
Lock systems work well
Good value for kit
Camera lock can be left on
Gary Fong GearGuard Cons
Lens cannot be left standing upright with cable threaded through
Lens bayonet has poor fitting
Bag can still be accessed if opportunity arises
|VALUE FOR MONEY