Packing Items for Shipment
Choose a box size that will allow at least 2-3 inches around the item on the top, bottom and sides. For very heavy items “double boxing” is a good idea. Pack the item in a right sized box then pack that entire taped box into a 2-3 inch on all sides larger box with foam packing all around.
When shipping a shutter, it should be set to “T” or with the press focus feature on to avoid possible damage to the blades. The openings can also be covered with cardboard. The shutter can then be placed in a plastic bag and held closed with a rubber band. Please avoid the use of tape to hold the bag closed. Rubber bands or even nothing is better because there is risk of damage when using sharp tools to cut the tape.
When shipping a lens without shutter or lens caps, care must be taken to avoid the plastic bag touching the lens elements . Foam can be cut for each side, the foam and lens placed into a plastic bag and then be held shut with a rubber band. The same procedure can be used when shipping a shutter with the lens elements installed.
Take the box and place some stiff material on the bottom (cardboard or foam cut to fit). Place a layer of foam peanuts or similar padding material in a layer 2-3 inches deep. The use of crumpled newspaper or similar materials should be avoided as these do not absorb shock or impact as well. Wrap the item in a plastic or paper bag and give it a turn around or two with bubble wrap. Don’t tape the bubble wrap. Surround the bubblepacked item with more peanuts and cover the top with about 2-3 inches more peanuts. Press down around the sides slightly to compact it. Place another layer of stiff material (cardboard or foam) on top. There should be enough material to give the finished package a balloon-like or pneumatically inflated presentation. The contents should not be able to “slosh around” inside the box and there should be no airspaces allowing the box to dent easily.
A well packed shipment is clearly labeled, anonymous as to its contents (Don’t put “Fragile, valuable Photographic Equipment”) unless you are insured to the max.), and “tossable” You should be able to casually toss the packed box about ten feet horizontally from a standing position onto a cement floor without the slightest twinge or anticipation of damage. Keep double boxing until this seems OK to you.
Please enclose in the box a letter or other clue as to your name, return shipping address and shipping preferences if any, phone number and a description or reference to the work to be done so that the job can be properly matched to any conversations, prior e-mail or other correspondence regarding it. Although I have become a pretty good detective its often a problem that a lens or shutter arrives in a box with no letter and even no return address, or the return address of a “Mail Etc.” company. These items unfortunately often end up on the :”Wait for Call” shelf.
I value all customers and the business they send me. I feel really bad when I have had a long e-mail thread or phone conversation with someone (e-mail address/names are often different from real names) and just can’t connect an arriving item packed with no return address and a note: “Here’s the lens we talked about– Joe” with the rest of the thread.
In addition to good packing there is also the matter of tracking and responsibility. It is a poor practice to send valuable items by simple first class mail. Although the track record is very good, and loss is unusual it is by no means unheard of. For low value items such as lenscaps lensboards, small parts, etc the risk is sustainable. I never ship valuable items via simple first class mail.
Conversely, insurance for full value and/or over-insurance is a bad bargain in the long run. Well packed items are never damaged in shipment and properly addressed items are rarely lost. It is my default practice to ship via UPS with a declared value of $100.00. This allows for tracking and proof of delivery. The U.S. Postal service offers both insurance and an uninsured “tracking record” I usually use the “tracking record” for postal shipments. These are especially the case where no payment is made for return shipping and/or no preference is stated.
Since this is a general “philosophy of shipping” and your opinion may be different from mine, if you expect and are paying for full value insurance on your return shipment please note that in your letter or note packed with the item. This can add subtantially to the price of shipping.
Please remember, the item in shipment is your property, not mine and the costs of a loss in shipping are yours.