What to Do When You Kill Your Camera

Introduction: What to Do When You Kill Your Camera

About: I'm just another person out there trying to get the most out of life. I love to expole the world around me and try to have a good time doing so.
Let's face it: accidents happen. Sometimes they happen to your beloved camera. This intructable is to help you deal with the aftermath.

Background story:

My wife loves me. So, she let us buy a brand new Nikon D5100. I was in heaven! This thing made my last DSLR seem like a point and shoot! I spent hours taking pictures (evidence on my flickr site here ) and was enjoying being creative again. One night I was trying to take photos of water droplets by my pool. I accidentally caught my toe on my tripod and the tripod, camera, and lens all went into the drink. The tripod made it. It was the sole survivor.

That was a sad day.

Step 1: Step One: React!

Something bad has happened to you camera. Your first step is to address that fact with quick action.

Don't freak out, just be calm and react.

Start by removing your camera from whatever bad situation it is in. Dropped in water? Fish it out of there! Hit the pavement? Pick it up.

Examine your camera for obvious signs of damage, like dents, scratches, cracks, water leaking out, etc. If it's not wet try turning it on.

What isn't working?

Now take that info to google. The great thing about the internet is that it connects people that have a lot of similar problems. Do a search online describing your problems and you'll find a lot things people in similar situations have tried. Some work. Some don't. This will give you an excellent starting point.

For me I read up and watched a youtube video that directed me to pack my camera in rice or kitty litter. It was good advice that got a lot of the moisture out, but unfortunately I had other damage that couldn't be fixed that way.

Step 2: Step Two: Get It Looked At.

Cameras are complex beasts.  So, a google search didn't give you a quick fix? Time to move on to other solutions. If you are a tinkerer like me you might be tempted to get out the electronics screwdriver set and open her up. I'd recommend against that, unless you really know what you are doing.

Start by checking out iFixit.com . It is a wonderful resource for tear down and repair instructions and even parts. I took one look at their tear down of my camera ,  sat in awe at the complexity of the thing and knew I was in over my head. You might find an easy repair that you can do though. The only mistake here is to not look.

If you decide this is beyond your ability, send it in to the manufacturer. When you send it in give a good description of what happened and be honest. These folks know what they are looking at and will probably see through any stories you tell to try to get your accident covered by warranty. Don't be afraid to tell them how much you love your camera and their company. While it is not to be expected companies will on occasion comp repairs even if they aren't covered by the warranty because they like polite customers who like them.

Step 3: Step Three: Cut Your Losses

Some things just can't be fixed. It's unfortunate, but a fact of life. If your camera turns out to be one of those things though, it's not the end of the world. This can actually be a great opportunity to start again from scratch and get some new updated equipment.

Start by deciding if you are going to replace the camera or not. If you are not going to replace it, skip to the next paragraph. If you are going to replace your camera decide with what. Same model? Same brand? What accessories from your dead camera will work with your new one? The battery and charger from my dead camera will work on my new one and run $70. Take those accessories that you can no longer use and sell them on craigslist, ebay, or digital photography forums. Be fair about your prices.

What do you do with a broken camera? Sell it! My camera came back from Nikon being declaired "BEYOND REPAIR". I put it on ebay. Within a few hours I had a bit for my starting price of $75 and seven people watching it. A week later the auction closed at over $300!

The camera I owned before my Nikon was a Sony a-100. It flew across a sailboat while I was feeding the fish. After that it still took photos but made funny noises and drained the battery super fast. Despite being five years old it sold on ebay for around $170.

Your camera may not sell for much, but it's a lot more than nothing, which is what you've got with a broken camera.

If you do list your dead camera on ebay be honest about it. Use big, bold, red letters at the top of the listing declaring the brokeness of your dead camera.

If you opt not to sell it consider taking it apart for the enriching experience of looking inside and seeing how it works. Just stay away of that huge flash capacitor.

Step 4: Step Four: Learn

No experience is bad if we learn from it . So, while waiting for your ebay auction to end, ponder what you've learned. What will you do different? What will you do the same?

Some thoughts I came up with are:
  • Be more careful with your equipment. Sure, widening your tripod may add stability, but it makes it easier to kick into the pool.
  • Consider a protection plan. If you do, always read the fine print first and buy from reputable companies. I had a protection plan on my Sony from a fly by night company that didn't exist when I needed them.
  • Invest in protective equipment.
  • Use a strap or tether whenever possible.
I know personally that losing a camera is a big hit, but if you follow these step it can lessen the blow. I hope this helps someone.
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    8 years ago on Step 4

    What did you do in set-up for the photo above (bottle containing/on fire?) I would like to experiment with similar shots; since none of my 'friends' will swirl burning balls of steel wool! (Wussies!!)

    My deepest sympathies on the loss of your beloved Nikon. i am a (Canon) Rebel girl, myself; but the loss of any good brand is tragic.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    The steelwool is fun. I did it with my friends last month. Just wear a hoodie, gloves, and eye protection. Put the steelwool in a whisk with some line tied to it...

    The bottle is shot by putting a spoonfull of rubbing alcohol in, swirling it around for a moment, then dropping a lit match in.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It was a close race between the D5100 and the T3i, but ultimately I opted for the slightly better image quality and larger sensor (read: low light performance). I even rethought the decision a dew days ago when we were repurchasing the D5100.

    I'm not going to say that Canon's are crap, because they are not. In choosing between the T3i and the D5100 there is no bad choice as they are both good . . . but I felt the D5100 was a better choice.

    Then again, I'm not a hipster . . .


    10 years ago on Introduction

    years ago all you had to do was keep all the components wet untill you could properly dry them then they added electronics to the cameras which made it a little more difficult.

    At least now a days that fact of digital obsolescence makes this a little less painless since dig cams arn't ment to run for 30 or more years like my minoltas.

    One thing to consider you could try to resurrect it from a dropped dead cam on ebay because the water just fries the circuits, just watch out for the shutter that might get tricky too.

    I dropped a Sony 24 to 104 ( yes the zeiss one I cried)in a puddle, took it apart and cheaned it to the best or my knowledge (being very careful with the nano coated elements). And everything worked great with it. Basically if you belive it to be a total loss experiment you never know what could happen


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    An excellent suggestion, but I'm not confident enough in my assembly skills to tackle something like that quite yet.