One of the questions that comes back most often when people learn what I do for a living is: how do you manage not to drop your camera? Up until Saturday, I could (somewhat smugly) answer that I am being very careful and have been lucky so far.

Two days ago, I was shooting Heather Geluk and had just gotten some pretty amazing shots of the climbers with Dent du Géant in the background, when my camera decided to go for a hike on its own (I’ll keep the exact details of how the camera came to be dropped confidential for now, as I want to let the involved gear manufacturers investigate the issue first). The D700 and attached Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 II bounced around on the rock and ice slope, until the lens disappeared in a crevasse field. Amazingly, the camera stopped 150m lower and we managed to retrieve what was left of it… Sadly, the memory card was also damaged, though I have hopes of getting a specialized company to retrieve the photos from the morning.

We did finish the shoot, using a small Canon G12 and climbing the super fun Aiguilles d’Entrèves traverse. You can see the whole G12 set on facebook.


Because nothing beats broken camera porn, here is what my once dear D700 now looks like. The screen is completely gone and I cleaned the glass fragments out.

And now, the hunt for a D800 in time for some big shoots next week begins!


57 thoughts on “Broken

  1. I feel your pain although you dropped your camera doing much more than me! It’s a badge of a true professional or so I’m told. My D700 is in the shop as we speak. It can be fixed but it is pricey. Hope you can retrieve your images!

  2. Looking forward to read about the “to be discussed with the gear manufacturers” details, as in which piece of gear failed you so that you dropped the camera.

    (Or maybe this was just an elaborate plan to have a good reason to get a D800 =)

  3. Joe Justice says:

    What about the broken lens porn? Wish you were able to recover that. when all the ice melts, archaeologists will find that thing and wonder what happened.

  4. livellozero says:

    looks like it was attached to a blackrapid sling or similar
    in that case I am afraid you won’t get any refund

  5. Have you tried sending it in for service? I had my D700 submerged in water and sent it in to Nikon for repairs last month. The whole process took a little less than a month (most of the time was idle waiting for parts). My camera works like a champ now. It costed a little over $300, but I’ll gladly pay that over buying a replacement D700 or new D800. Not sure how much it would cost for impact damage, but it doesn’t hurt to get an estimate. Worst that can happen is you lose money on shipping if you decide not to proceed with the repair (or if it can’t be repaired). As a fellow D700 shooter, I say it’s worth a try.

  6. Your camera looks like the one my students use. When you are done with it could you ship it to me. I promise to give it to a child who thinks its’new. be well: Baba

  7. Alan says:

    This says a lot for the strength of the body itself. Mark Chan may be right, get an estamate from Nikon USA!

  8. If the involved gear includes a miraculously self unscrewing ball bearing mount on a sling, I think my D700 very nearly suffered the same fate. I’ve been super reluctant to use that specific piece of gear ever since, and only with redundant safety. Feel free to contact me at the provided email for details.

  9. Karen Thaeter says:

    I still own a Nikon FE which Is still good as new after a few droppings.!
    Its a shame everything is made from plastic nowdays.
    Although your tumble was very extreme,the Nikon held up fairly well !

  10. Chris Perry says:

    Ah, this brakes my heart! First casualty, it needs to be put in a display case as a reminder of it good service :)

  11. Tony Wade says:

    I share your love of Nikon DSLR’s, but I too have a Canon compact (a G10 in my case) and I think they are brilliant. What a missed opportunity for Nikon, as their P7000 is nowhere near as good a compact as the Canon G’s are. I look forward to seeing your work from the new D800 (unless you decide to save the insurance money and use the Canon G12 in future!!)

  12. I feel for you, I also admire what you do for a living, Sheeet! Climbing mountains, too much for me.
    Have to say Good Old Nikon though, even after falling down a mountain it is still in one piece (mainly).

    I would suggest you send Nikon of Grey’s of Westminster copies of the pics of the camera to show how strong that Magnesium body is. Good publicity for you as well.

  13. Great mountain shot with the G12. Where’s the rest of that gallery? I too have a dSLR (Canon 50D) and a Canon G12. I see from the image’s meta data you’re using LR4, what develop setting do you use? I never seem to get as much sharpness and beautiful color from my G12.

  14. Ouch. I feel your pain. I had a similar experience back in February when I dropped a D300 off a 60m cliff in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley. I’d rather not repeat that one again. It looks as though your D700 fared as well as my D300 despite the longer fall. ;)

  15. Duy says:

    I’m disappointed that the compact-flash was damaged, given that the M alloy frame was mostly intact. Nikon could do a better job redesigning the card housing and release mechanism to better protect the memory card.

  16. ajendus says:

    Wow… I’d cry for many nights after if that happened to my D700 but that bad boy sure did hold up pretty well. After 150m, I’d expect to see it in pieces not just dinged up.

  17. elbowclarke says:

    I’ve heard a lot of D700 owners having “accidents” ever since the D800 came out. Darn, have to upgrade.

  18. Ranjeet Rain says:

    To be honest, the camera looks to be in much better condition than I’d expect after such a “journey”. And I agree with the suggestion that you should try to get it repaired. Did you insure your gear? In your line of work, you should. In that case, the lost lens will not hurt.

  19. It doesn’t look too bad considering the adventure it has gone through…Nikons are robust…I wouldn’t expect anything less…Hey Man…I hope you can salvage the images!

  20. Paul Richards says:

    Hi I know the Dent du Géant { Giants Tooth } Mountain well, I used to see it every morning going to work in the winter season . Based in La Rosiere working has a ski guide Did heli skiing on the Italian side and carried a video camera, filming clients. Cameras are always a pain some you win some you lose.

  21. Stephan says:

    I am also looking forward to read about “to be discussed with the gear manufacturers” details, as in which piece of gear failed you so that you dropped the camera.”, because my D800 dropped (but nothing broke) because of “problems” with third-party gear as well.

  22. Peter says:

    Well, at least it was only a camera and some good suggestions on how to proceed. I take it the lens didn’t do as well, pics of it would be interesting to see. Also can see a pin sticking out of the tripod mounting hole so the other suggestion that it might be a Black Rapid strap could be true. Thank goodness I never thought it was a good idea to use BR straps due to that connection so I opted for a Crumpler Industry Disgrace, never looked back.

  23. Sorry to hear about your camera. The D700 is pretty strong at the best of times but I guess there will always be a limit. Keep in mind that the D800 is not as strong as the D700 (lighter, with thinner metal construction) so you might want to put a rubber jacket on it.

    We recover data from damaged memory cards and am confident that we can get back your photos. We have handled cases where cards have been shot, flooded and run over so falling off a mountain should be no problem.

    Feel free to contact me on this email address – or order directly from the website.

  24. Randy says:

    Looks like there is a broken stud in 1/4-20 screw mount in the base of the camera. My bet is that the mount you had it on let go and away she went……. and the 70-200? I imagine it is lost also.

  25. Sauti says:

    Always wanted one of those Lens-Mugs….
    No honestly – I feel very sorry and hope you can upgrade soon.

  26. rcchong says:

    sorry to hear that the memory card was damaged,
    now at least someone value their picture more than
    their camera.
    always wonder if a plastic lens would absorb the
    shock better :-0

  27. Nonot says:

    Lesson learned: When you go climb those damn rocky mountain, ALWAYS HOOK UP YOUR CAMERA to your climbing apparel! Once I took photograph of grapes, just 5 foot high and I hook up my gear into the branch, safety first.

  28. Craig says:

    If you don’t hold on to your camera it will end up in a raod side ditch or maybe a mountain crevasse.

  29. Philippe says:

    Wow. My D700 is not a good camera then. I’ll have to upgrade to the D4. Would that survive then? ;)

  30. Bryan Barbee says:

    Liked the comment on the F-3 surviving the fall. I know my old F-4 would have dented the ice. Sorry about the D-700, I will give mine a hug tonight.

  31. Patrick Schoeneich says:

    So after more than 3 months, could the “manufacturers investigate” ?
    Can you give us some details now ? I’m interested to know how to avoid loosing such cameras…


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