Personal View site logo
All my equipment got stolen on a train last week - now what?
  • Last week I was traveling on the train from Amsterdam to Berlin. My bag with all my gear was in the compartment above my seat, I looked down to answer a phone call and when I looked up a minute later the bag was gone. The police on the train said it was a probably a team who had followed me on the train from the platform. Of course I felt stupid for losing it, but I also decided not to dwell on what I couldn't change and find my way back on my feet as efficiently as possible. I won't go into the whole story, but I have been shooting a documentary for the last 4 years on my GH2. Personal-view was a huge asset in helping me assemble the kit I have been using with what have felt like great results. But all my camera equipment, lenses, sound gear and my 16TB harddrive was in the bag. Thankfully I have a backup HD in NYC, so I only lost a few interviews and a couple days of work, but I didn't have insurance. So my gear is gone.

    I have actually taken the loss better than I would have expected. I've been able to keep a positive attitude, and a freelance job came out of nowhere the day my stuff was stolen so that I will be able afford to replace most of what I lost. In total I lost around $6,500 worth of gear. Now I need to replace it to be able to keep shooting. I will buy another GH2 for sure, but I also thought it would be interesting to post about what happened and hear if there are any suggestions from the community about possible upgrades, so that the misfortune actually becomes an opportunity to enhance what I was working with. Of course I will need something that can cut with my hacked GH2 footage, but a lot obviously changes in 4 years... so if any of you could put yourselves in my situation, what purchases would you make to update and replace your kit?

    Here are the lenses I lost:

    • SLR Magic 12mm
    • Lumix 20mm pancake
    • Lumix 25mm 1.4
    • Lumix 12-35mm
    • Olympus 45mm
    • Olympus 40-150
    • Rokinon 85mm

    and the sound gear I had:

    • Sennheiser MKH 40
    • Sennheiser wireless Lav kit w/ a Countrymen Lav mic
    • Zoom H6

    Many thanks for any suggestions.

  • 11 Replies sorted by
  • Sad to hear.

    If you travel a lot it is best idea to have coverage on all gear.

    P.S. I added some formatting to your post.

  • Hey, and my sympathies to you @raphaelfranco! That's an awful experience, good that you're taking it so well!

    Camera: I guess a camera I'm longing for is the GX85, for you it's possible to pick that camera up, for me it's not possible here in germany. The GX85 has no recording limit in video mode, at least so i was told and is supposed to be an awesome piece of gear! (released as GX80 in germany - recording limit :( because of import tax laws etc.) It should cut well with the GH2, being from panny and all. I would get at least one of those again too in your place - i personally have two (they are dirt cheap on ebay nowadays and still offer a wonderful package), plus the LX7 and RX100 MK1 as compact run and gun cams. I guess the GH1 is still a good and ultra-affordable option too but more of a downgrade...

    Lenses: If you're on a budget I would get m4/3 to canon FD adapters or maybe a metabones speedbooster and cheap vintage canon fd lenses (28, f2.8 | 50, 1.4 | etc - there are even some nice zooms with f4 throughout) which offer great quality (some specific style even) and great build-quality. Also in conjunction with the in-body stabilization of the GX85 they should offer a great solution for you. I guess there's no replacement for the panasonic lenses and wide angles, so you might have to rebuy these (maybe better used?)

    Sound: I don't know the frequency regulations in your area, here in germany these are quite strictly regulated, so cheaper wireless lav alternatives like Boya BY-WM6, Saramonic UwMic10, Azden PRO-XD are no option for me, maybe for you they are cool - at least you'll save some money which can be invested elsewhere.

    I still recommend the Tascam dr-40 although quite old, it still offers useable audio-quality when combined with a good mic and it doesn't break the bank! The headphone-amplifier though is of very poor quality so when monitoring there's mor hiss introduced than on the actual recording. Also when recording more than 10 minutes audio tends to slowly run out of sync with the camera, i usually check my recordings when i have everything in my timeline and cut away one frame of the Tascam audio-track at each place where things start to run out of sync - unnoticable if you choose a good spot! (in my case mostly long recordings of concerts or interviews atm) - not too comfortable but its a workaround!

    A very affordable mic to pickup which I can recommend is the isk cm20c which is a super cardioid microphone good for indoors but also useable outside (examples in this thread

    But if you already had an mkh 40 - i guess it's the industry standard - get another one, right?

    Hope this helps a bit, cheers!

  • That sucks. GH2's are pretty inexpensive these days - you can get one for $250. Congrats on picking up the freelance job. You'll be fully geared up in no time!

  • Yeah if you had a MKH40 you won't want to go back to an iSK CM20C!!

  • Wow, that sucks. I'm sorry to say that not only is there nothing quite like the MKH 40 but there are also some fake ones floating around. A Tascam 70D will give you four high end channels, and if you are not booming the mic a Studio Projects B1 is the best value, and you can swap out the capsule down the line for a K47 or whatever. Otherwise grab an Oktava 012 and maybe mod it later if you want to. You can pick up a used GH2 for peanuts or get a G7 which has CineD, or wait and see what's in the pipeline. The GX85 is fine as well, it gives you image stabilization but no log. Maybe get a Panasonic 14mm/2.5 to sort of take the place of both the 12 and 20, don't bother right away with the middle just get the same old Olly 40-150, the 50-70mm range is just as sharp as a prime lens at 1 blur unit or less....once you get some basic gear you can look and see how much money you have left over, the kit 14-42 that come with the G7 is a very nice lens and so is the foldable one that comes with the GX85.

  • Yup, that sucks, sorry to hear it.

    When I lived in NYC in the 90's, I always kept and arm or a leg throughout the strap of my most important bag.

    It's always a good idea to keep a list, in a safe place, of all the serial numbers on your pieces of gear… Just in case, that way you can identify it, if you, a reseller, or the police ever see it again.

    Years ago there was a database for stolen motion picture gear (the really expensive film gear). I'm not sure who maintained it, but, I think it was one of the resellers (In-Sync publications, Isaia Equipment brokers, etc).

    In the Europe is a big re-seller for some of your type of gear and they are straight up people, give them a call, let them know what happened and ask if they have any advice, at least for the future:

    The person I dealt with there was named Barrie White. Their original name is Bazza's Bazaar and have been around a long time. I had a positive experience buying a Sachtler tripod and a Rycote zeppelin from them, used, at good prices.

  • Everyone - thank you so much for the sympathies and great advice. Much appreciated. I will definitely be getting insurance, and will put a tracker on any equipment bag in the future. Thankfully the freelance gig will allow to replace and potentially upgrade some pieces of equipment... so it is a hit financially but also an opportunity. Even though I come here less often than when I initially invested in my gear, I still do and it's so encouraging to still find a good community. Thanks again.

  • Absolutely LOVE my G7, which can be found for under $500! Just amazing little camera IMO. I also use a GH1 and 2 super cheap G5's. If they get stolen or Break it's less of a hit but the image quality is great for the jobs I get.

  • hi after a shooting 5 months ago , i was loading my lada niva a motorcycle run and grabed my case with lenses SMC Takumar 15mm F3.5 lens S-M-C/Super Takumar 24mm F3.5 Auto Takumar 35mm F 2.3 SMC/S-M-C/Super Takumar 50mm F1.4 Super-Takumar 85mm F1.9 SMC Takumar 105mm F/2.8 canon 24 105 ef usm is so my sympathie for your lost it hurts alot (sorry for my english)

  • Very sorry to hear that happened to you Raphael.

  • Yeah, I lost my GH2 with Leica 25mm D, and a Nikon, both stolen from the trunk of my car. The thief left behind my Pelican case with two Hasselblads and three Zeiss lenses. It's like the Stairway to Heaven - makes you wonder.