The Final Photograph

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Last Saturday, with some wispy clouds in the evening sky promising a good sunset, I headed out along the Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver to photograph the Siwash Rock. This would be the last photograph my 5D Mark III took.

Shortly after taking this photograph, I moved my tripod slightly to improve the composition of the photo. While I normally take extra care to ensure my tripod is stable on uneven surfaces, on this occasion I made an error in judgement. My attempt to grab the camera failed and I watched in horror and disbelief as my tripod, camera and 16–35mm f/2.8 lens toppled gracefully over, ending up in the water.

Upon removing the gear from the water, it was immediately clear that, unsurprisingly, all was not well. Canon do a pretty good job of weatherproofing their high-end gear, but total immersion in any liquid, let alone seawater, is certainly not something many DSLRs will survive. Both displays on the camera were blank, and it was making an unpleasant and uncharacteristic grinding noise.

I immediately removed the battery from the camera and dried the camera and lens off as well as I could in the circumstances (not very). With a walk home of almost an hour, it was a long time before I was able to properly clean and dry the camera and lens.

Remarkably, when removing the lens from the camera, the mirror box and sensor were completely dry, but the camera showed plenty of other signs of water ingress. All I could do was dry it externally as well as possible, and then put it in a warm room to dry out internally as much as possible.

The only saving grace to what was a pretty miserable day was that I had signed up for business property cover as an extension to my home insurance when I bought the camera, with the express intention of covering loss or damage to my camera equipment. Still, I didn’t get much sleep the next couple of nights, wondering whether on Monday they would find some way to deny coverage.

Thankfully, the initial call on Monday seemed reassuring, and as requested, I sent the camera and lens off to Canon Canada for a repair estimate. The package arrived with them on Wednesday, and within a couple of hours of being delivered I had confirmation of what I already knew — the camera was beyond economical repair.

I let the insurance company know the outcome and provided them with the requested documentation, and incredibly, they said that they would have a cheque ready by Friday, and that I could pick it up from their office in downtown Vancouver. Today, I collected the cheque, paid it into my bank, and after shopping around the local camera shops for one who would match Canon’s direct replacement cost, purchased a new 5D Mark III.

The lens is still with Canon Canada, who are currently determining whether or not it can be repaired, but I am now once again the owner of a functioning DSLR. I have missed a couple of good sunsets, one aurora storm, and am out of pocket by my $250 deductible, but all in all, I’m extremely relieved that the outcome was no worse.

Since I have managed to get the camera replaced, I feel just about able to post this shot, which I feared might be the last I took for some time. As I didn’t get chance to complete the shoot, the composition and exposure isn’t quite as I would hope for, but hey, it was a nice sunset.

golden hour seascape stanley park sunset
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