This is how a camera dies

It begins with a simple mission: photograph a white-marked tussock moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma) who has enjoyed two days meandering about the patio.

A white-marked tussock moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma) crawling down the patio fence (2010_05_14_054641)

The larva spent most of that time on the outside edge of the ceiling.  Not easy to photograph up there given the high contrast of shooting at the sky.

A white-marked tussock moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma) crawling on the patio fence (2010_05_14_054655)

But when it came down to the fence, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to grab some pictures.

A white-marked tussock moth caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma) crawling on the patio fence (2010_05_14_054666)

While I was clicking away, I realized the camera sounded funny.  That usual SLR shutter sound was coming across sickly and labored.  Then I noticed the images didn’t look right.  And finally I saw what looked like something hanging in front of the lens.


And with each new picture it grew progressively worse.


Then the camera died.  Really, really, really died.

A bit of detective work poking at its innards revealed the second shutter curtain has broken (I originally thought it was jammed or loose).  Though the mirror and the first shutter curtain work normally, the second shutter curtain is in more pieces than it should be.  That has unfortunately jammed the entire shutter mechanism.

Now when I turn the camera on, it immediately goes to a fatal error.

This is traumatic, poppets.  It’s the kind of thing that’s worth a tear or two.  Me without a working camera?  It’s a travesty and a deep wound.

So I’m left with this question: Do I have it repaired or do I purchase a new camera?

Meanwhile, the collection of unpublished photos is quite large, hence there is no fear that this means an interruption in sharing the things I’ve seen.  What it does mean is that all new scenes are on hold.  Temporarily.

[This is another caterpillar that you shouldn’t touch.  Though not as dangerous as southern flannel moth caterpillars, white-marked tussock moth caterpillars can still deliver a troublesome allergic reaction if you come into contact with the setae—the hairs.]

13 thoughts on “This is how a camera dies”

  1. Time for a new camera, dude. You did the natural-progression thing from cheap, pocket-camera, to pretty nice digital, to low-mid level DSLR. Now it’s time for either a T2i or possibly the 7D. I’d say your skill and work warrants such an investment.

    Plus, weren’t you wanting HD Video capabilities as well anyway?

  2. I’m sorry for your loss. Interesting to actually witness the death of a camera, though.

    Tough question. We’re such a throwaway society, and so many things ~can’t~ be repaired, even when we’d prefer to. I can’t imagine that a better camera would yield better pictures since it’s your eye and index figure that make the magic.

    But I understand the compulsion to trade up.

    I’m relieved to hear you have a backlog of photos.

  3. Totally suck, Jason. I would be completely lost without my camera. Thank goodness for image backlogs.

    Personally, I think you might as well look at a new one. The thing is, very often it’s exactly the same, or very little difference, to repair something as it is to replace it. Occasionally even more. When I dropped my (very first) digital camera in the Pacific Ocean many years ago, I took it in to a camera shop when I got home to see if it was salvageable. The guy took one look at it and laughed. He said, honestly, it would actually cost more to repair the thing than it would to buy a brand new camera (and I don’t think he was just trying to get me to buy one of theirs, I didn’t get that vibe off him). Now, if you can repair it yourself and save the labour costs that’s maybe one thing, but to take it in to a shop it’s probably not worth the cost, unless you’re really sentimentally attached to the unit.

  4. If you think you can sell if for more than it costs to fix it, do it and get a new toy – salve your wound!

    I feel your pain – even though I’m a lot of other things before I am a photographer, I can’t imagine the mourning I’d go into if my camera broke down.

    Hope you get up and shuttering soon.

  5. Hi Jason – I think i started following your blog at the time your computer hard drive crashed. Now your camera…you’ve got some bum luck. Didn’t you sweat all in it too the other day?

    I have no idea what you shoot with, so can’t say what kind of investment we’re talking about. I CAN offer you a loaner DSLR – I have 2 backups/spares. Just email me if you’re interested.

  6. That sucks! I’m sorry to hear your camera is out of commission for a while – I wouldn’t be able to live without my camera either. Glad to see the moth images before it died though! The caterpillar is gorgeous! And yet another example of why I don’t pick up those cute little fuzzy caterpillars that everyone seems to think must be so cuddly and soft… 🙂

  7. Sorry to hear about the camera, that sucks!
    For what it’s worth, those pre-mortem shots of the caterpillar are quite spectacular. I like the detail on the second and third in particular.

    I am using a T1i now, they’re not too expensive, if you’re looking for a replacement.

  8. I’ve never seen a camera die before. There are artists who would make an instillation out of that and probably win the Turner Prize for doing so!

    The repair thing is a pain. Technology has us over a barrel. Such is the cost… and often the impossibility of finding someone to repair… we’re invariably edged by manufacturers toward upgrades. (Except, I should say, in an Apple store! When I recently took my troubled MacBook Pro to Cardiff for a diagnostic, such was the enthusiasm to help of everyone I encountered there, that I daydreamed the staff might take over and administer my life with the same skills they’d exhibited in restoring my laptop to health!)

    Sounds like you’ve got some good advice already within these comments. And an offer of a loan too from the lovely Amber. (Well done Amber!)

  9. Very sorry to hear about the death of your camera, Jason. Ours died a much less dramatic death last year. (The main settings wheel became stiffer and stiffer and finally impossible to turn.) Doing without the camera while it was repaired was no fun.

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