When I was out at WPPI earlier this year, I talked with a friend who told me about a nightmare scenario in which the mirror fell out of her 5D camera while shooting a wedding (I hear this referred to a lot as “blowing the shutter” but not exactly sure if they are one and the same….Anyone?). Her experience put the fear of God into me, so I asked the Canon representatives (who are EVERYWHERE at WPPI…bless their souls!) and was told, “Yeah, it’s basically not a matter of ‘if’, it’s a matter of ‘when’..and no, we cannot tell you when that when is going to be.”) (conveniently, this is the same thing the Apple Genius guy told me a year ago when I took my iMac in when a busted hard drive).
I was glad I heard this story and carried around that newly discovered knowledge if only because it prepared me for when that very “worst case scenario” happened to me. It was during a wedding last month and, as I pressed down on the shutter, I heard a sickening crunch and then all I saw was black. Uh-oh…it’s the mirror. It’s got to be the mirror, started playing through my mind on repeat.
Thankfully, this happened at a point in the day when I could quietly slip away, remove my 70-200 lens (which was on there pretty tight..I think it got “stuck” for a minute as a result of what happened), assess the damage (Yep, it was the mirror) and continue on with the rest of the night’s shoot with my back-up camera (which I’d already had out anyway) safely in hand, nobody any wiser as to what had just happened.
So, I guess the lesson here folks is kind of three-fold:
1) It’s going to happen to you at some point too: Whether it’s a blown shutter or a lens that falls out of a bag, every working photographer is going to encounter a scenario at some point in his or her career where they have a piece of equipment malfunction on them. Yes, everyone. (I’m picturing Annie Leibovitz blowing a shutter during a shoot for Vanity Fair and already feeling better about this very notion….)
2) Be prepared: If you are photographing ANY person’s wedding, you better have a back-up camera in hand (especially during the ceremony and parts of the day you cannot miss) or in your gear bag at the ready. (preferably of the same model so you’re not dealing with any confusion over settings or technical issues on top of the frustration of having something break on you). If you are a professional shooting more than 5-6 weddings a year, you should make it a priority to own a second back-up body (and a third if and when you can afford it). If you are an occasional wedding photographer and/or do not have the funds yet to own that second body, you best be renting that camera body at every paid shoot you are hired for. When I need a camera body or lens rental, I trust and turn to BorrowLens.com. Also, if you are a professional who is not yet a member of your camera maker’s professional photographer service, DO IT ALREADY. I joined Canon Professional Service (gold status) and it has been a life-saver in increased turn-around time on fixes, free shipping and major discounts on repairs.
and finally, just because I didn’t know this until it happened and I thought it might help others to know it too:
3) It’s covered up to 100,000 clicks: This is pretty specific to my situation, but if you (like me) own a Canon (specifically a 5D), there’s peace of mind knowing that Canon will cover the cost of repairing a busted mirror if your camera body has fewer than 100,000 clicks. I wasn’t sure how many clicks my camera had, so it was incredibly reassuring to get that email from Canon letting me know I was covered and the repair was underway! (Here’s a bit more from a Flickr thread on this subject too).