It’s Not How You Break It…

It’s Not How You Break It…

It’s how you fix it. And when, and where, too.

I flew a scale model airplane into the floor yesterday, courtesy of a my coat sleeve, and the landing was a hard one – no nose gear left. It was up off the floor as fast as possible, under a strong light to find the damage, then out to the workshop. The gear leg was drilled, pinned, and re-cemented within 15 minutes and the plane would look fine in an hour. My heart rate calmed down and I was able to take a long breath.

It is exactly the same with our photography ventures. We will make mistakes  – we will break things – and we will experience panic when it happens. That’s the point when being prepared is important – and the preparations can be done with knowledge and organisation.

a. If you break a camera or a lens, you generally do it with a fall. First thing to do is examine yourself to see if you’re broken…because you are more valuable than the photo gear. If all your arms and legs work and you’re not leaking, attend to the camera.

Outright breaks are rare, but some plastic-mounted lenses can shear their bayonet plates and fall off entirely. This is a good thing. WHAT!? A good thing in that the forces that broke the plastic nubbins did not go on to break the glass or plastic parts of the camera. Some plastic lens mounts can be replaced, and lenses that depend on polycarbonate for the mounting are not the most expensive ones in the maker’s lineup anyway. Worst case, buy another.

Dents and cracks can occur in metal or plastic bodies. Oddly enough, if the force that did it hasn’t gone deeper, some cameras operate fine dented. Don’t get a hammer and experiment…

Finally you can dislodge mirrors on DSLRs or lose levers with a severe fall. Camera Electronic and maker’s repair shops can restore quite a few of these damaged cameras. Come in, get a quote, and keep your courage up.

b. Dunking cameras in water – the non- waterproof ones – is never really good. Fresh water is better than salt and some people who have lost one overboard at sea put the camera in a bucket of fresh water to haul it in for repair. Even here, troubles can overwhelm them. Still, rush it in and let the technician see whether too much has gotten in.

c. Losing cameras into wheat bins, dirt, or other particulates. You might luck out here. The very nature of the material may break the fall and not let the physical structure get damaged. But it’s a dollar to a bag of icing sugar that fragments will get in far enough to work their way to your sensor. Lightly dust the outside, then lightly damp towel it off, and lightly bring it in to Camera Electronic for a thorough clean.

d. Scratches, wear marks, brassing, or gouges are part of the life of a camera that is used a lot. Some people have even gone as far as to attack new equipment with sandpaper to produce a worn look – pretending to themselves and others that they have battle experience. Possible – but it was Bunnings and not Bastogne. When you see genuine wear on your own camera, calculate how many images it has produced. Congratulations.

e. Broken lens elements or dead focusing motors are more serious than most of us can handle. Even the repair shops may be in trouble if it’s an older lens that has no source of spare parts. Do ask for a quote but prepare to be told to spend your money downstairs at the sales counter for a new optic.

f. You sometimes read of people who try to update firmware on their cameras but get a seqeunce wrong or turn it off mid-download and then brick their camera. That’s the slang term for confusing the on-board computer so badly that it refuses to do any more and the camera is dead. Sometimes a factory repair shop can recover this disaster and sometimes not. I’ve updated my Fujifilms a number of times but have gotten to the point where they are not putting out new firmware for the models I own. So I am spared the nervous tension of the firmware upload. No disasters so far.

g. Printers gum up and need professional attention some times. They can be kept from this by weekly use and careful attention to the age of the ink stocks. The adventurous may wish to wish to YouTube self-cleaning regimes.


In our next column we’ll discuss the business of fixing images rather than equipment. There will be good news.


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