I have always disliked neck straps on cameras. Modern neoprene straps are better but stuff swinging round my neck is essentially uncomfortable. i don ‘t even like a modest pair of binoculars doing pendulum impressions around my neck, never mind a camera body weighing in at 750g. Add to that a long lens making the whole ensemble weight 2kgs or more and a neckstrap is out of the question for me. I did used to use a wrist strap with more modest lenses attached but a couple of kilos hanging off ones wrist isn’t an appealing prospect either. Since, when hunting wildlife I habitually use a monopod, my preferred transport approach is to sling the monopod with camera and lens attached over my shoulder. I’ve been doing this quite successfully for 4-5 years.
Today my approach failed. Actually, not knowing exactly what happened, perhaps my concentration ran out. Whatever the cause, as we were wandering along a road near Jalón to go in search of dragonflies and particularly one of my gaudy favourites, the delightfully pink-coloured male Violet Dropwings (Trithemis annulata), my hand somehow contrived to part company with the monopod over my shoulder. The complete assembly: almost brand new EOS 7D mk2 (£1600) complete with 1.4X extender (£400) and Canon 300mm F4 prime L-series lens (£1200), fell off my shoulder (a height of about 5 ft) onto the road surface beneath. Arghhh!! Most definitely, an “oh shit” moment.
The first obvious problem I spotted was that the lens hood, perhaps mercifully extended, was now more oval than circular in shape. A little judicious squeezing managed to return it to its more familiar and useful circular shape.
I turned my attention to my beloved camera. The camera still switched on but, as I looked closer, I spotted the point of impact on the lower left rear corner, just near the delete button. Scratches were the least of the trouble; a couple of the camera body’s sections were not now quite the shape they should be and didn’t exactly meet precisely. I looked through the eyepiece and tried a shot. It didn’t focus, the viewfinder information telling me I was in manual focus when, in fact, the lens was switched to auto. The shutter fired … very slowly. An error message saying, “Err01 – communication error” was now about all I could get out of £3200-worth of dropped equipment. Further attempts resulted in the same error message.
We continued our short wander with a gloomy cloud hanging over my head. As you might imagine, this did not make for a relaxing time spotting dragonflies. We did eventually find our quarry, plus a couple of Epaulet Skimmers (Orthetrum chrysostigma) but I had no way of recording them.
Back chez Casa, I tried a few more tests swapping components between the damaged mk2 and my older 7D mk1, which I’d left here intentionally to avoid carrying hefty equipment on future flying visits. Amazingly, these tests seem to show that the camera still works, though I’ve yet to try all functions. The lens, including stabilizer, also seems to work properly. It’s the extender, when mounted in between them, that screws things up and is very definitely broken – it has a slight but disturbing sideways movement that should not be there.
When we return, I need a trip to canon’s service centre at Elstree to get one of my lenses serviced. I may try to see if they can refurbish and check the 7D mk2 as well.
Oh, and a friend at UK DRagonflies blamed the mishap on the Violent Dropthings. Very good, I needed a laugh!