The four rules of the service department /

I work in the service department of a large camera store. We have four rules we tell our customers in order for them to keep shooting and not have to see us.

Before we start there are a couple of a truths that are not well known. Spare parts need to be made at the same time as the camera, with the same moulds. So this means they have to guess how many parts they will need and for how many years they will back their product. The number which appears to be the norm is five years for consumer cameras. With pro gear it is longer. We can still get parts for a 10 year old 5D2 repaired. Sony are interesting as they have not discontinued any of the a7 series cameras, they have made them cheaper and keeping them in production, which means owners of the originals can still get parts.

The second thing to keep in mind, it is not a quick turn around to get gear repaired. In Australia and many other places you are looking at two weeks to get a quote and another 2 weeks if the parts can be sourced locally. Longer if they need to be sourced from country of manufacture. Please note if you buy into premium brands, Leica, Zeiss or Voigtlander your gear will most likely be sent to the international service centre and will be away for two to three months. Samyang though not a premium brand, sends their lenses to Korea but at a fixed price and takes about six weeks.

Rule One :: don't drop photo gear, it's expensive!

Yes I know you don't mean too but still each day in service departments around the world we are presented with broken cameras and lenses.

There are som practical steps to minimise dropping and the damage from a fall.
  • Get yourself a comfortable strap that you will wear. This will help with butter fingers but not with crash tacking toddlers.
  • Keep uncontrollable, angry or stupid people, away from your tripod and you, this includes children.
  • Keep a lens hood on. Most photographers see lens hoods as a way of keeping sun out. They are so much more. In many angles your camera can hit concrete the lens hood can break the fall.
  • Choose cameras and lenses with less moving parts to break. Be aware that compact cameras with self extending zooms will most likely die in a drop or at minimum need a new lens.
  • Look where you are walking and stop to look at the scenery. As has happened in the Blue Mountains walking backwards to get that awesome shot did not work as he went over the edge and dropped his camera on the way down. The camera was destroyed. The bride was upset that her photographer was dead. Not good.

  • Rule Two :: sand and water are serial killers of cameras and they will kill your camera too!

    Beaches are sand and salt water, both are camera murders. You are taking a huge risk taking the camera into salt spray.

    Practical steps if you are brave/stupid enough to take your camera there

  • Sand gets in lens focus and zoom. The sand is covered in salt. Salt corrodes most things particularly electronics. Do not put you camera in the sand - period!
  • So not play silly buggers on the beach with your camera out. Beaches are serious killers and letting down your guard is an invitation to the cancers, that is sand or water.
  • Do not change lenses outside near the sea. Salt spray is your adversary.
  • Use a Damp cotton cloth to wipe down the camera and lens after if you do take it there. Better still put the camera in a plastic bag and rubber ban the end of the lens. Throw the bag away.
  • Never ever put liquids in a bag with a camera. No you can not repair a water damaged camera. It will die. Tears will only add to the damage.
  • If you drown your camera, accept that you have murdered it, and don't show up at your local camera repair place, hoping for divine intervention.

  • Rule Three :: don't loan your gear to anyone (they will take it to the beach and drop it in the water.

    We all have friends who wish to borrow lenses or bodies. Nancy was correct in this instance, ‘just say no’. Even if you are the sort of person who pledges chastity and gets 'with child', ‘just say no’. Even if you are the person at the party who accepts and consumes what ever is given, still say no. Your friend will never treat your equipment with the respect you do. There is no way to minimise this other than saying 'no'. No includes everyone, friend, husband, mother, child, in fact this includes anyone who is not you. Camera repairs people can tell you 'I let my (insert relationship ) to borrow my camera...' Is one of the most often ways a repair request starts. Obviously letting someone else take your camera to the beach has a very high chance of ending in grief.

    Rule Four :: Do not force it.

    Just because the camera has USB and you have a USB cord does not mean it will fit.

    If things feel a little odd - stop, investigate and google. You may have the lens at the wrong bayonet. Many expensive repairs strait with the explanation 'it should work'.

    So all the best! Go out and make great photographs. Move photography forward!

    Made in RapidWeaver