This Review Guide Covers
How to Safely Ship an E.N.G. Video Camera...
Identifying the Four Primary Camera Components.
Properly Wrapping Each Component.
Alternative Packing Methods.
Preventing Fraud on Both Sides.
Many larger style E.N.G. (Electronic News Gathering) Analog Video Cameras were made between 1990 and approximately 2003 by manufacturers such as Sony, Panasonic, JVC, Hitachi and Ikegami. Although somewhat larger than the newer digital video cameras, these older style of video cameras still offer many valuable features and remain popular to the already indoctrinated. Many of these video cameras can actually be docked to a present day digital video recordback although the specially made digital recorders are generally considered cost prohibitive.
These E.N.G. Video cameras retain a certain value to videographers who already use these types of cameras and find it makes sense to simply buy an identical video camera on eBay to have as a back up or as a possible replacement. If the auction winner is lucky enough to find and win such an auction, the last thing they would want to encounter is receiving a fully functioning E.N.G. Video camera that was then damaged during shipping.
When it comes to shipping these Professional E.N.G. video cameras, the number one rule is, IF THE E.N.G. VIDEO CAMERA HAS A REMOVABLE LENS, DO NOT SHIP THE CAMERA WITH THE LENS STILL ATTACHED TO THE CAMERA BODY!
But lets back up and start at the beginning.
When storing a broadcast quality E.N.G. video camera prior to shipping, make sure the manual exposure lens iris ring is closed, meaning it is set past f-16, all the way to f-22. The reason to do this is prevent ambient light from entering the lens and hitting the chip sensor block located inside the camera body. Over time tiny pixels on the chip sensor block will go dead so bombarding the chip sensor block with light when the camera is not being used can never help the camera, but it can accelerate the formation of dead pixels.
Adding a lens cap cover is a good idea when it comes to preventing unwanted and unnecessary light from entering the video camera. Most E.N.G. video cameras also have an "ND" setting on the filter wheel and/or a closed filter wheel position as well, both of these filter wheel settings assist in preventing light from entering the chip sensor block when the camera is not in use.
Most but not all E.N.G. video cameras have four removable components that include a viewfinder, lens, camera body, and a video recorder that is directly docked to the camera body. When shipping an E.N.G. video camera it is important to shorten the front to back length of the camera by removing the lens. By shortening the front to back overall length of the E.N.G. video camera, significantly less G force will be built up during a fall or throw that might happen to the box during shipping. The combination of a heavy lens, a light camera body, and a heavy video recorder helps create a "weightlifters barbell" type of scenario that can easily create a lot of G-force when the shipping box is dropped, thrown or jostled.
Ideally, all four video components should be carefully removed and individually wrapped.
If your desire is to try and ship all four components in one box, there is the possibility that all four components could bang into each other inside the box during shipping if they are not packed correctly.
The ideal way to ship these four components would be to wrap each one with thin bubblewrap, completely encasing it. When using the smaller bubblewrap you may need to wrap twice around each item to make sure there is enough cushion. However the smaller bubblewrap will take up less room than wrapping once with the bigger bubblewrap. Tape the small bubblewrap shut so it is a snug fit. Don't oversnug it but don't keep the bubblewrap loose either. Place the bubblewrapped and taped shut component into it's own box and then drop Styrofoam peanuts in and around the bubblewrapped part and then tape that smaller box shut.
If you can get a properly sized box that is rated to handle the weight you will be shipping, it will be possible to put the four components within this one larger box. After each component has been properly bubblewrapped and put into it's own box and styrofoam peanuts have been added, tape that box shut. After all four components have been individually boxed, put all four boxes into the larger box, making sure to put additional styrofoam peanuts around all four boxes before sealing the larger box
Even the way you seal the box can add additional strength to the box and protection to the items inside the box. If you have a power staple gun and can actually staple both sides of the cardboard flaps together, it will make the box stronger. However you should probably still put tape over the staples. If you do not have a power staple gun handy, then using strong 2 inch wide tape should suffice. Clear tape is probably better as it won't cover key information like the address or the box strength and dimension info located on the bottom of the box. Make sure to tape and seal all corners and to criscross the tape in at least three places on both the top and bottom of the box while overlapping the tape so it goes around the box as well. An additional tape around the midsection can help reinforce the box as well.
If you want to simplify the packing process just a bit, you can leave the camera body and the recorder docked together as long as the lens has been removed from the front of the camera. In this scenario you would end up with three pieces, the camera body & recorder, the viewfinder, and the lens. However, it is important that the opening to the camera body where the lens used to be be carefully sealed immediately after taking lens off to prevent dust, light and or a foreign object from unexpectedly entering the chip sensor block area.
Removing the lens is relatively easy, assuming the lens is supposed to come off. It is possible that there might have been an E.N.G. camera made in which the lens is not removeable although I am not aware of such an E.N.G. camera. If you have ever removed a lens from a 35mm still camera than you should be able to figure out how to remove the lens from the video camera. DON'T FORGET TO DISCONNECT THE POWER ZOOM CAMERA CABLE AND THE VIEWFINDER CABLE FROM THE CAMERA BODY BEFORE REMOVING THE LENS.
Before taking off the lens make sure you can immediately cover up the E.N.G. video camera prism block opening that will become visible once the lens is removed. Covering the prism block opening protects the light sensor block from excessive ambient light and dust. E.N.G. video cameras originally came with custom made lens covers for both the front and back of the lens. Many times the prism block cap is not kept with the camera and may not be available. I strongly recommend finding a sturdy camera body prism block cover that DOES NOT protrude into the camera body opening where the lens used to be. This also protects the prism block from excessive light and then protects this very fragile area during shipping. Larger sized lens caps if properly taped to cover the camera body opening are superior to just covering the opening with tape, but not as good as finding a better fitting prism block cover cap. The idea is to add additional protection just in case something were to actually punch through the box. The lens will also need to be covered as well, both the front and back of the lens will need to be protected. Don't just use tape to cover either side because the tape could sag and actually adhere itself to either lens surface which is not a good thing to have happen!
The viewfinder should also be detached as well. NEVER FORCE THE VIEWFINDER OFF! If you have to force the viewfinder off you have missed loosening something, or perhaps the viewfinder does not come off. Most E.N.G. cameras the viewfinder does come off.
There actually are TWO ALTERNATIVE WAYS to ship a large professional E.N.G. video camera without taking it apart. Although I don't recommend either method, both methods are used and have gained acceptance by some shippers as a time saving way to ship. The first method involves spraying a special shipping foam inside the bottom half of the cardboard box that will then harden in short amount of time. A sheet of plastic is then placed over the foam. The camera is then laid down into the box on top of the plastic so that it forms an impression on top of the plastic sheet and the underlying soft foaming agent. Another sheet of plastic is placed over the video camera and then the rest of the box is filled with the spray foam. The foam will harden yet remain soft and bouncy during shipping and when done correctly makes a form fitting shape around the entire shape of the camera.
The reason I do not like this method is I believe the point where the lens is attached to the camera body can still be jostled repeatedly during shipping. The barbell distribution of the weight of the typical E.N.G. camera can still cause unnecessary jostling of the lens where the lens is attached to the camera body. Some people ship this way and have for years and claim it is fine. This method is probably the best method available for shipping an E.N.G. camera that has not been taken apart, but it is probably not as good as actually shipping all the components separately. However, if this method was used and then this sealed box was put inside of a bigger box with a couple of inches of styrofoam peanuts dropped in on the bottom and all sides and the top of the smaller box, this actually would be an acceptable method. When double boxing it is important that the inside box be allowed to shift during transport. Do not cram the smaller box inside of a bigger box because vibration and shock can more easily transfer through both boxes and reach the camera
The second alternative shipping method would be to simply encase the entire video camera in bubblewrap, perhaps as many as 4-6 continuous layers around the entire video camera. One must be careful not to put too much force on the lens when doing this method. The idea is there is so much bubblewrap wrapped snugly around the camera that it should absorb all of the shock. I can't recommend this method but it probably should work if one did not want to take apart the camera and did an expert job of bubblewrapping the entire camera. After the video camera has been completely encased with several layers of thin bubblewrap and snugly taped, the camera would be placed inside the box and styrofoam peanuts would then be dropped around the camera. What I don't like about this method is the camera will inevitably sink to the bottom of the box and it's possible the bubblewrap bubbles may start to pop during shipping and not properly protect the camera. Plus if something penetrates the box it can easily go through the bubblewrap. However, if the video camera were then doubleboxed, this method gains some legitimacy. But be careful to make sure that the snugness of the bubblewrap doesn't put too much pressure on the viewfinder or the lens as this can cause something to be "tweaked" during shipment. While I don't recommend this method for shipping, it is superior to putting the camera in a box and just throwing in newspaper or peanuts only.
I have heard of people wrapping the entire camera with several layers of bubblewrap, then the styrofoam peanuts are added to the bottom of the box and all around the camera. It seems to me that this method is still risky, especially if the tightly wrapped bubblewrap creates a lot of force against the more fragile parts of the camera, such as the viewfinder or lens. I'm not saying this method doesn't work, just that it appears to be a risky method. Perhaps if the shipper has experience and knowledge with this method it might work.
Preventing Fraud on either side. To the buyer I recommend that they only bid on video cameras that are pictured completely assembled and are of the unit that is actually being shipped. If the Seller agrees to disassemble the camera the last thing the buyer would want is for the seller to substitute a different lens, viewfinder, recorder or camera body versus the ones that are pictured in the article. An unethical seller could swap out one of the four components and then claim the buyer does not know how to assemble the camera! I'm just saying this could happen but probably is a very rare occurence.
To the seller I recommend writing down the serial numbers of EACH AND EVERY COMPONENT. If for some reason you decide to accept the camera back from the buyer the last thing you would want is for an unscrupulous buyer to swap out one of the four components and then send you back a part that looks identical but actually might be from their own inventory. To this end you may want to also put some kind of tape or even a small amount of glue over the camera body screws so the circuit boards that reside inside cannot be as easily taken out. An unscrupulous buyer could simply want to trade out interior circuit boards and then send you back the identical camera body but with a defective board inside of it. Again, this is probably very rare but if it happens once in a hundred transactions that is still signifcant.
Thanks for caring by reading this Guide!