Last night I went out photographing.  I’d been watching the weather for a few days and it was looking perfect.  Clear sky, low humidity and a new moon that was well below the horizon.  I’d been planning to wake up at midnight and drive an hour and a half to a really dark location to capture the Milky Way for the first time this year.

However, when it came to the evening I changed my plan slightly.  The wind had really picked up and this makes photographing at night difficult because the camera wobbles on the tripod.  I didn’t want to drive for three hours to have a disappointing shoot so I decided to head out locally as a compromise.  As least if it was too windy I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and effort.  

So, I set my alarm for 2am, dress up really warm and head to a local beach where the tide is low.  I head as far away from the shore as possible to get away from the worst of the light pollution and set up my camera and star tracker on the chalk rocks.  Although it’s a bit darker out here, the easterly wind is really strong because there’s nothing to stop it.

 I’m protecting the camera and tripod from the wind with my body whilst holding the cable release in one hand and the stopwatch in the other.  I manage to take a few ok-ish photos but whilst looking at the stopwatch I’m aware of a huge gust of wind and then a smashing sound that’s almost entirely lost in the noise of the weather.  I look up slightly to see my precious camera resting in a shallow rock pool and my heart sinks.  I’m stupidly still holding the cable release even though the camera is on the ground!  

The first thing I do is swear under my breath and beg there not to be any damage.  I take out my torch, bend down and examine the lens.  Miraculously, the glass is in one piece and free of scratches and cracks.  It feels firm on the mount as well so I put the lens cap back on to protect it.  

Then I begin to check over the camera.  Although most of it looks undamaged (but way dirtier that I’d ever want it to get), I find the spot that has taken all of the impact.  The whole area around the “Play”, “Delete”, “ISO” buttons etc. is covered in sand, chalk and salt water.  Most of the buttons can’t be pressed because of the sand particles and a couple are stuck in and cemented in place by the chalk and grit.

No photographer wants to see their camera like this. It's sickening to think you might have to spend your hard earned money on new equipment because of a silly mistake.


As a photographer I really love my camera.  The enjoyment that I get from taking photos with my Nikon D800 is amazing and I’m always amazed by how well every aspect of it is designed and built.  Each shot that I take with it feels great, so the though of suddenly loosing it is devastating!

As soon as I thought it might be broken, I was holding back the panic…. Can I repair this? How much will it cost to replace?  How long will I be without a camera?  It wasn’t until I’d driven home whilst worrying about what I’d do that Amy reminded me, “It’s fine, its insured”.  Phew!

As soon as Amy reminded me that I wouldn’t need to spend a whole load of money buying new equipment I was completely relieved.  This has reinforced in my head the importance of having insurance for my photography gear.  I’m always really careful with my kit and take good care of it… but mistakes happen.  Sometimes I misjudge things; usually it’s something small like getting the exposure or composition wrong, but sometimes it’s misjudging the sturdiness of the tripod positioning or forgetting that I unzipped my camera bag before picking it up.   

So the moral is this.  If you love you camera gear, or even if you don’t love it but would really miss it if it wasn’t there anymore, insure it.


With all that said, after getting home I put the camera in my dehumidifier box to try and soak up all of the salt water.  The next morning I took it out and together, Amy and I managed to remove most of the sediment and grit from the controls.  The buttons were fine and the camera appears to be working once more.

This has been a good test of the build quality of my Nikon D800 and it passed with flying colours.

So it turned out that I didn’t need to use my insurance in the end.  Some would say that I’ve therefore wasted £110 this year.  Fair enough, but if my equipment had broken, or if my whole camera bag had been stolen with every single bit of kit that I own inside it I might have saved £6000.  

To insure or not to insure.  The choice is yours.

In the end, Amy and I were able to remove a lot of the sediment and get the camera working again. Nikon know how to make a really tough, weather sealed camera.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Josephine Vary

    Very interesting and nerve wracking story about your ‘near miss’ with your camera!
    – and I don’t mean ‘near missing’ a good shot!
    Thanks for the advice about insurance. It is easy to think of saving money by not insuring, but I will think of your experience each time I consider ‘insuring or not’. Maybe I’ll try to think of other ways to save a few pounds.

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