Of course, having an ID tag on your camera is not going to guarantee that it’s coming back to you—particularly if it’s a valuable camera. However, having some sort of identifying information on the camera itself enables the possibility of returning it to you if someone honest picks it up, which is always better than no possibility at all.
With that out of the way, here are some suggestions to ID your photography equipment:
There are plenty of pieces of information you could put on an ID tag, some of them highly effective, some of them potentially dangerous, and of course, you have limited space. So, what should you include?
Your name is necessary, for starters. Most people will want you to identify yourself as the correct owner of the camera, and there’s no way to really do that without a name.
A cell phone number is also a good idea, as it can’t be (easily) tracked to your address, but still allows for fast, flexible communication.
If you can fit it, email address might also be a good idea, or a webpage if you have one. This opens up all kinds of ways that the person could track you down, hopefully to give you your camera back.
Beyond that, there’s plenty of information you probably shouldn’t include. Date of birth, home phone and address, things along those lines can allow people to track you down in a way well beyond what is necessary to return your equipment to you. Use common sense.
Some people feel the need to include a reward for the camera’s return, hoping to help honesty along a bit. While this is hardly a requirement, there’s an increased chance of a return, which to some people is worth the monetary loss. (Not to encourage potential thieves, of course.)
What Equipment To ID?
What pieces of equipment are important enough to identify?
Your camera is the single most important thing: that’s a given. Your camera case is also probably a good idea, as they might get separated and the case may contain other knick-knacks. However, individually identifying each and every single photo filter and memory card is probably going a little overboard.
The simplest, and probably most effective way to attach your identifying information is an ID tag. Metal is probably the best material, as it is both strong and common. There are many places to get a personal ID tag engraved: many people just go to a pet store and get a personalized dog tag. Engraving is not that difficult to do either, if you have the equipment and the steady hands to use it, so it’s a definite DIY possibility.
Attaching this to either a wrist strap or somewhere on the body of the camera is probably your best bet: simple, stable, and conspicuous. You’ll want it to be difficult to remove, just in case the camera gets knocked about a bit: welding the fastening ring shut is the surest way.
Another way to mark your camera on your own is to, well, use a marker or some other inky utensil on the body of the camera. Cheap, easy, and effective. This has a number of disadvantages, however, as a camera will suffer a fair amount of wear and tear over its lifetime, and the ink will wear off with it. Using personal handwriting on a difficult surface might make the ID useless entirely.
Take A Picture
Can’t fit enough ID information to really suit you on a little tag? You can always write the information out on a piece of paper and take a picture of it. So, if someone who finds your camera goes through the pictures on the memory card, they will find a full spread of personal information that they can use to return it to you. The slightly more tech savvy can also just put a .doc file on the memory card, making it even more easy to read and easy to edit.
With this, you’ll have to be careful not to erase the file whenever you choose to download your photos, or when you reformat the memory card, to replace the file.