Whichever you cut it, having a camera break while you’re on a photo safari just plain sucks.
Earlier this year, during our Big Cats & Tuskers Photo Safari, my D3s bombed out on me while we were photographing Colobus Monkeys at Lake Naivasha. It turned out that the aperture mechanism, which was fixed after being damaged a while earlier when someone tried to mount the lens by turning – read forcing – it the wrong way, bombed while I swapped lenses.
No guessing that I was pretty bleak about it but hey, what can you do? Shit happens.
Luckily I had a backup body and for the rest of the trip I used a D700 with battery grip as a replacement for the D3s along with a D7000.
Fast forward a few months.
Sitting on a zodiac photographing a walrus colony on the shores of Svalbard I notice that, while holding a 1D4 and 600mm lens, that there is a bit of rotation when I twist the body.
Long story short – for some reason the mechanism that locks the lens into place just stopped working which means the body can just spin freely on the lens and does not lock into place.
I was using the 600mm exclusively on the 1D4 as I quite liked the 1.3x crop factor while photographing polar bears and whales. As my second body I used a Canon 5D3 which was great with a 70-200mm and, the reason I wanted to take it along, the 16-35mm and 14mm wide angles.
Anyway, I checked all the obvious things to see why the lens would not click into place but no luck.
Everything was working fine but the irritation factor was understandably quite high and the risk of having the lens drop off was obviously not something I wanted to deal with while pointing my gear at a polar bear in front of a blue glacier.
Having to change lenses all the time was not something I was keen on doing as in wildlife photography this often means missed shots and in a destination like Svalbard that is not something you really want to have to consider.
Now a few of the things I always have in my camera bag include large plastic bags, cable ties and duct tape.
Yip, duct tape.
You can fix anything with duct tape and in the end it was very handy and even though some would argue that it did not look all that great I was able to use the 1D4 for the remainder of our trip with great results.
So my advice to you – when you next head out into the field always pack duct tape.
You never know…
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt
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