Photo Equipment Crash Test

Or – watch where you walk before you bust your butt

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I recently conducted an impromptu photo equipment crash test. I was walking along the sea wall at Bar Harbor, Maine and saw a promising scene unfolding. To capture my vision meant getting down on the rocks below (just about at low tide) and hustling my butt a few hundred feet over the (wet, slimy) rocky shore. I made it to my destination unscathed (but with a few scares) in time to catch what I saw coming (liner anchored but schooner moving which is why I had to hurry – how’s “Kiss my Stern” for a title? Click to enlarge and see the very unusual bow on the cruise ship. Lips?).

So far so good. But my trip to this spot must have made me over confident because immediately after taking this next shot

I turned to head back to where I came from – slipped on a a rock as slick as ice – and went butt side up – and down on the rocks for a very hard landing. This is the last image made by this Nikon 18-200 lens which broke cleanly in half –

I had been complaining to my wife about how bad my sample of this lens was – I hadn’t used it for over 6 months before today having replaced it with a Tokina 16-50 2.8 and a Tokina 50-135 2.8. Bad Karma – the lens extracted its payback during this fall; don’t like me, huh? well, try using me now!
The band on the left “half” above is just that – a rubber band. This lens (not just mine) had a “feature” called lens creep. Point the lens down and it zoomed (crept) out; point it up and it crept in. The rubber band was my jury rig attempt to keep it from creeping. Jeez, Nikon, is that the best you can do? The lens contrast sucked, too – but clearly that’s no longer a worry.
Here are a few more lens photos in case you didn’t know what’s inside one of these –


Do you think that my Nikon warranty might cover this? 😉
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So if you’re keeping score, here’s how the four main elements of my crash test did.

  • In last place – the Nikor 18-200 lens
  • Next to last, the photographer’s decrepit 73 year old body which very, very fortunately suffered no damage that time, Aleve, and Neosporin couldn’t help. In the interests of whatever, I’ve substituted a photo of bottle of Aleve in lieu of one of my aching butt & back.
  • In 2nd place was the Nikon D300 body which suffered mostly cosmetic damage in the form of a chip broken out of the CF card door. It has performed flawlessly since then having taken 100’s of pictures – so that would appear to be the extent of it. Upper image is the casualty; lower image is my 2nd unscathed D300 for comparison.
  • In 1st place, we have the Gitzo 6x Carbon tripod with just barely visible cosmetic scratches.

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There must be a moral or two to this tale (apart from “some people never learn” as this isn’t the first time for me). Outdoor photographers – be careful!

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