If you’re a photographer, professional or hobbyist, you probably know that you can accumulate gear costs quickly. All those costs can be hard to keep track of, making it imperative that you get your stuff insured and/or protected against theft somehow. New site Lenstag wants to help with that.
The website already has users in more than 80 countries and is free to use. Photographers can get in on it by signing up with a simple email and password combo, and then you just start adding gear. Enter a make and model, and suggestions will appear allowing you to be specific. You also enter in your serial code, which the site requires photographic evidence of to verify. An actual person does the final verification, which is why Lenstag isn’t your average possession database.
Lenstag having this information means you can give eBay buyers more peace of mind, and then actually transfer ownership to other Lenstag members. You can also report stolen gear, which allows people to look it up when they recover or find stolen gear, including police departments and private buyers shopping on Craigslist, for instance. Additionally, every piece of gear gets an auto-generate page designed to float up in search results, so that if someone is checking out a perspective search on a particular model of lens or camera with your serial number, they’ll see a notice that it’s stolen and get a form to submit a report.
The site introduced a new feature that lets you make a temporary verification link for their online sales of used camera goods, which is handy since you don’t want the listing hanging around once the gear is already sold. In general, it’s an amazing service and one that requires nothing more than a small amount of extra effort for a lot of extra peace of mind.
Lenstag founder Trevor Sehrer, whose day job is in mobile engineering with Google, told me that he plans on doing outreach to form official partnerships with police services soon, after first focusing on building out additional user-facing features. The Finnish Police have already endorsed Lenstag without any prompting, he notes, so it should make sense to start with them. When asked about revenue, however Sehrer demurred.
“I’m much more interested in solving the problem of camera and lens theft with Lenstag than making money,” he said. “The site doesn’t cost a lot of time or money to operate since users only need it when their set of gear changes and the verification system can scale quickly to as many verifiers as I need to get through any backlog.”
He is eventually looking at partnering with insurance providers, but the aim would be to pass on discounts to members of up to 20 percent, not necessarily to make revenue for the site itself.
As a photographer, I find this a very welcome resource, especially given its design and human-powered verification. I can imagine a time when asking for a Lenstag verification will be standard practice when buying and selling used gear, and I’m sure other photographers would appreciate the peace of mind that could come along with that.