Skip to main content

When bad things happen to good cameras, or, Why experienced photographers carry backups

Experienced photographers know: equipment breaks. That's why experienced photographers carry backups. I mention it because I ran into a problem last weekend. Would have been a big problem—well, it would have been a disaster—were it not for my having not one, but two backups with me.

I started the morning shooting with a Pentax K10D and planned to use it as much as possible. For a while it was working fine. Here's a boring but otherwise satisfactory shot taken shortly after I got on board with my host, Corinthian Sailing Club former commodore Michael Mittman:[caption id="attachment_761" align="aligncenter" width="590" caption="Michael Mittman"][/caption]

But once we got out on the water, something happened. I don't chimp every photo but eventually I did review a couple photos and I found this:

[caption id="attachment_759" align="aligncenter" width="590" caption="One of the many things that can go wrong with a camera!"][/caption]

This, I'd seen before. A couple years ago, at the State Fair of Texas, this problem appeared for the first time. At shutter speeds over 1/1500th of a second or so, the shutter curtain no longer moved out of the way fast enough, causing a part of the photo to be blacked out. By the time this problem appeared, a Pentax K20D had replaced the K10D as my primary camera and I didn't feel like spending the money to get the K10D fixed. So long as the shutter speed was under 1/1000th sec—which in my photography is almost always the case—everything was fine, so I continued to use the K10D as a second body now and then.

Now, I'm not sure what was causing the camera to use a very fast shutter last weekend. It was a very overcast day. And I haven't used the K10D much in the last 10 months or so; so perhaps some problem arose with its metering. But I didn't have time to think the problem through while I was out in the middle of the lake, and I didn't need to, because I was able to switch immediately to the other cameras I'd thrown into my bag the night before: the Panasonic LX3 with its terrific Leica wide-to-normal zoom lens, and the Panasonic FZ35, which its remarkably good superzoom capability. I wouldn't take either of the Panasonic compact cameras to a portrait shoot (too little control depth of field due to the small sensor) or a wedding (poor low light performance) but for this assignment for the East Dallas Times, I thought they'd be fine and they were.

Leukemia Cup Regatta

The moral is simple. Don't go out without a backup unless you can afford to come home without photos.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Wireless control of Olympus OM-D E-M1 with OI.Share app

The Olympus Image Share or "OI.Share" app for smartphones allows you to do some very neat things with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 camera, like control focus, shutter and other settings, download photos to your phone, and geo-tag your photos. The only problem with this partnership between camera and phone — at least for me as a micro-four-thirds and Olympus novice — was getting it to work.

The documentation provided in the app and in the user manual for the camera is typically bad. I wrote this blog article from the notes I started making as I was trying to sort this out for myself. I hope I save somebody else an hour and some worry.

Ingredients To get started you'll need to have an EM-1 and a smart phone with the OI.Share app installed. I'm using an iPhone 5 running iOS 7 and version 2.1.1 of the OI.Share app. I downloaded the app from the App Store.

Addendum 7 January 2015: This article was first published a little over a year ago, in December 2013. I just went through the…

Why I switched from Lightroom to Aperture

Read today an excellent article, "Why I use Aperture instead of Lightroom," by Mel Ashar; it's posted at the Aperture Expert blog edited by Joseph Linaschke. Ashar, a landscape and architectural photographer, provides a useful catalog of some of the reasons Aperture is a strong choice for photographers who use Macs. He focuses on the file-management advantages of Aperture that arise from the fact that Apple controls an entire file ecosystem, comprised not just of Aperture, but of iCloud and the file systems on both Macs and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad).

Now, notwithstanding the advantages Ashar enumerates, the consensus seems to be that, Aperture as a photo processing app lags way behind Lightroom. I disagree with the consensus. In fact, shortly after the public beta of Lightroom 5 became available, I started looking again at Aperture and this time I really gave it the old college try. To my surprise, I discovered that I liked it. I liked it a lot. So, instead of upgrading…

Why DxO Optics Pro 10 stays in my toolbox

You can read this post here, or read my reposted version over over at Medium.


I've used over a dozen apps in the last decade to convert my raw files and process my digital images. Today I rely on four main tools to process my images: Lightroom 5.7, the Nik suite of apps (now owned and published by Google), onOne Software's Perfect Photo Suite 9 — and DxO Optics Pro 10. I want to talk about Perfect Photo Suite some other time; it's my replacement for Photoshop and I really like it. But today, I want to say nice things about Optics Pro 10.

Might seem an odd thing to admit, but I don't really want to use Optics Pro. It can't hold a candle to Lightroom for browsing and managing images. And it doesn't support layers (like Perfect Photo Suite) or much in the way of selective editing (like Lightroom, Nik and Perfect Photo Suite do). I'm able to get what I want from most of my images using Lightroom, or Nik or Perfect Photo. So most of the time, I don't need Op…