Don’t think it could never happen to you… and if it already happened don’t think it won’t happen again. I was unlucky enough to have had a horrible head-on car wreck thirty-one years ago. The accident was no fault of mine at all. I remember people remarking “what a freak thing” to have happen to you. Then nine years later it happened again and yes again it was no fault of mine whatsoever. I learned the first time that life can change so quick and as they say “in the blink of an eye”. Taking me over a year to fully recover it was a life changing experience to say the least.
So let’s change gears here and talk about why you should always put a clear filter on the front of that big expensive lens you love so much. If you have read previous posts you know I have many times referred to my 70-200mm f/2.8 lens as my “pry it from my cold dead hands” lens. While I like to shoot many kinds of photography it is the faces that I love and the 70-200mm is the tool to get that job done. I shoot a lot of models and do a lot of head shots so that lens is my baby.
I read long ago about putting the clear UV filter on the front of a lens because it is just one more thing to take the initial force before the front element of the lens would. Although I put the clear filter on practically every lens I own from the 58mm’s to my 77mm and even the 82mm, I still thought “It’ll never happen to me” because I’m so careful. I mean I have never dropped a camera or a lens in my life. I almost never use a camera strap anymore because I have come to find them bothersome. I will shoot either from a tripod or I will hand-hold using a wrist strap. I will be the first to say that I am very hard on gear, I keep a neoprene skin on my camera body 100% of the time, my 70-200 has a lenscoat brand cover 100% of the time and I always have the filter on the front. The only time the filter comes off is when I shoot in studio, I will also take the skin and the coat off as well.
But when I’m out and about I rely on Lowepro bags and pouches for protection while moving from place to place and when I am on a tripod my hand rarely leaves the camera body on a model shoot. As for the wrist strap; Yes holding a full body camera with a battery grip and a 70-200mm lens is a lot of weight and I will admit most people could not and would not do it without a camera strap. I am a big guy and I am averagely strong in the arms and hands. I really never gave it a lot of thought until now, but I like shooting on a tripod the best because of the extreme clarity and crispness of the images. I like hand-held because of the shear freedom and because my neck does not like a lot of weight and that is mostly due to the broken vertebrae from the wreck thirty one years ago. So far I have never let myself down while holding the camera with the wrist strap. I use a Cotton Carrier wrist strap, I have tried many and the Cotton Carrier is the only one I love. I liked many others but this is the one I fell in love with. I have waded streams, I carried my camera neck deep in the Gulf of Thailand, I have hung off the back of pickup trucks while traveling down back roads both here in the USA and in Southeast Asia, riding on motorbikes, looking over cliffs, lying on the ground in mud and sand and dirt… I have never dropped a camera. It is my hand and I control it. Have I ever hit something with my camera? Sure, all the time. With a long lens and being outdoors and doing what I do how could you not hit something, but that is why there is a skin on the camera body and a coat on the lens. There actually is a secondary reason for the covers and I have blogged about this in the past and that is; I really don’t want people to easily see what I have. I have no desire to show off what I have and as a matter of fact if I do use a camera strap it is for security more than to carry the camera. If I use a strap I use a homemade body strap similar to a “Black Rapid”. While in a bad area it is hard for a crook to just hit you and take the camera when it is tethered to your body. I kind of laugh to myself when I see a photographer with his Canon 7D or 5D Mark III strap that came with the kit. If you are in the wrong setting you are a walking billboard for any crook.
So it did happen to me. I have a catering business and the camera is always with me because I like to keep current content on the catering business’s Facebook page and I never want to miss that special shot at the party that might be good for the website. My camera always rides in a big Lowepro backpack that keeps it very safe. Well… until I had to attend a formal affair in NYC and I felt that carrying the big backpack while dressed in formal attire would cumbersome and actually stupid looking so I opted for a smaller Lowepro bag. It worked fine and it was a safe option for the low duty of a formal affair. However… upon return from the upscale event I was lazy and I did not switch back to the backpack. I grabbed the small bag and out the door I went and off to the catering job. I had my work vehicle loaded with food carriers (boxes) and I had the camera bag stuffed high on top. Upon return at the end of the day my wife opened the door and the bag fell out of the Dodge Durango from nearly roof top height and landed on the cement directly on the bottom of the bag. It made a strange noise, but I thought it to be ok. As we unpacked the vehicle I noticed the full moon rising and it was big and orange as orange could be. I ran for the tripod and placed it as quick as possible; I then pulled the camera out of the bag and went to remove the lens cap and… that was when I noticed the lens cap had been driven through the UV filter and was jammed into the filter ring to the point it was nearly impossible to remove it. It took several minutes to get the cap off. The filter had been destroyed; however the front element looked ok.
So yes it happened to me and I never seen it coming. Was I mad at my wife? Not really, I never yelled I just showed her the damage and she went silent and felt physically sick to her stomach. I let her stew about 20 minutes the time it took to get the filter off the lens and then I showed her the lens element appeared to be ok.
So today I headed down to Canon Pro Services to drop off the body, the 70-200mm and a 24-105mm that was also in the same camera bag. I wanted all three piece checked for internal damage as well as it was time for servicing anyway. CPS has a 2 turnaround time so I’ll have my gear back soon.
In conclusion; Go buy a UV filter for the lens you want to protect. Personally I use Tiffen or Hoya filters for all my other filter needs such as Polarizers and Neutral Density, but for UV I use Canon filters. Again this is just a persona preference, but you should always buy real glass and buy the best you can afford.
Have a great day and thanks for reading.