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What’s the worst gear mistake that’s happened to you?


Staff member
Over the years Ihave plenty of bad days ...

The day in Sedona when my Phase One DF/P40+/75-150 slipped out of the Arca quick lock on top of the Cube and hit the rock with a WUMP destroying the hood, locking up the lens and jettisoning off the P40 from the body. Only the lens suffered and I learned to significantly tighten the clamp on the Cube.:rolleyes:

3 months later the shutter failed in that Phase One DF and exploded. I removed the back and the entire shutter had cut into itself and blew out leaves - luckily not hitting the sensor/IR glass on the P40+. It looked like a fire cracker had gone off behind the shutter.

The day my buddy hit the remote trunk release in our rental car and I watched in slow motion my camera bag withFuji XPro and lenses plummet out the back of the SUV - snapped the mounted X mount lens clean in two. Luckily the last day of the trip.

And then two very similar situations, one on a bridge over a raging river at Gullfoss, the other on a rock at Bar Harbor lighthouse. In both cases my Alpa Mount wasn’t locked at the top and the back (IQ260) fell off the body and only the sync cable and my lightening fast reactions caught the back before it hit the bridge or tumbled into the sea. The Bar Harbor light trip was another GetDPI trip and my assistant with me from CI I swear almost passed out in shock when he saw me catch the back! After those two situations I became absolutely paranoid about checking MFDB amount plates on bodies when swapping from horizontal/portrait orientation!!

Now I’m not extraordinarily clumsy but if you’re out enough, you WILL eventually have a mishap.
It looks like you had your fair share of "adventures." "If you're out enough you WILL eventual have a mishap" - 100% agree. Thank you so much for sharing.


Well-known member
I don't know if it's the "worst gear mistake" I ever made, but it's certainly one that wrecked 36 exposures. Developing a roll of FP4+ in Ilfosol 3 that had been in a bottle for > 1 yr and coming back completely blank. Not even the negative numbers and/or film designation did show up outside of the perforation. After checking the bottle and a few internet references I found that after opening Ilfosol 3 you can only use it for a maximum of 4 month.

I've made many other mistakes, but this is the only one that caused a loss of exposures, all the others were just money to get something repaired.


Subscriber and Workshop Member
And, of course, the worst gear mistake was buying my first camera - an Olympus XA. I should have heeded that large creaking doorway opening onto the abyss. :devilish:

Then there was shooting my first roll of film on a Leica M2, thinking that I would explode this silly Leica myth. I swore loudly all day when I got the photos back. :love:


Active member
I misunderstood the the thread title as I thought it implied, "worst camera purchase mistakes". That should be an interesting read too.


Active member
At the start of a weeklong trip to the Canadian Rockies, I was shooting some skyline shots of Vancouver. Was somewhere where a cannon was about to go off, so I put in earplugs - which dampened the cannon sound but also caused me to not hear the sound of me accidentally bumping into my tripod. The tripod then toppled over and my H4D-40/35-90 did a face plant into some rocks. The UV filter of the lens took the impact and shattered, but somehow the rest of the rig was otherwise unharmed. Removed the shattered filter, blew the glass out, and carried on with the trip...

Had a gig another time where my camera and 24-70 did a barrel roll out of my camera bag when I was getting setup. Again shattered the UV filter, but I couldn’t get it off and i wasn’t able to use it for the gig.


My biggest mishap occurred while shooting details of Bridal Veil Falls in Yosemite. I had a 400mm 5.6 lens mounted to a Canon 5D Mk II with the lens mounted to my tripod. This was being shot from a paved area. My vehicle was just behind me and to my right. I swung around from looking in the camera to get something from the car. My left foot caught the tripod leg and down went the camera into the pavement. It landed on the right edge of the back of the camera and virtually split the camera in half. It was a total loss. The flange of the lens was slightly bent. After $400, the lens was back to working again. Tripods can be quite deadly to cameras and lenses!

On another occasion, I had mounted on my tripod (or thought I had) my Hasselblad 500 C/M with a 250mm lens. The shutter release cable had a loop that I always hooked to my tripod. I went to open the hood and the camera went screaming to the ground (soft meadow grass) and just before impact, the cable went tight since it was hooked to the tripod. The tension slowed the camera down and it landed with a light thud. No damage to the camera, but the cable release was toast. Again, near death by tripod!!

Jorgen Udvang

Subscriber Member
This one is easy, and although it's more than 15 years ago now, I still feel pain just thinking about it:
One of my customers, a travel agent organising tours and events for incoming tourists etc. to Thailand, wanted some spectacular photos of their 30-40 strong staff with Bangkok as a backdrop. So they rented or borrowed the helicopter platform on top of one of the city's luxury hotels and stopped all their activities for a full day to have the photos done.

The chosen photographer was me, and knowing that this was a once-in-a-lifetime event, I brought all the gear that I had available at the time, Olympus OM-3, OM-2S and an OM-10, all of which were in regular use. Long story short: the OM-10 didn't advance the film, but since it was the least used camera (for the all important single portraits), I didn't notice until I rewinded the film after coming home. The metering of the OM-2S, my main camera, was suddenly way off. The OM-3 worked very well, but I had just acquired that camera second hand, and wasn't very comfortable with it, so only used it for the large group shots with the 21mm.

So I ended up with some very few usable photos and a day wasted for 40 people. Ironically, I had a Canon A95 with me that I had bought a few days earlier. I took a few shots with it, mostly to show off the new digital gadget. I would obviously have been much better off doing the whole job with the Canon, but I didn't trust that camera yet, and my whole body screamed in agony just by the thought of doing a paid job with a point-and-shoot.

It was after this that I reluctantly bought my first digital SLR, the Fuji S3.

Every time I see a "The photographer ruined my wedding" headline, I think about that day, knowing very well that anybody can screw up. "There ain't no such thing as too much backup, too much checking, too much quality control".


Subscriber & Workshop Member
I’ll add another ... ;)

Back in the days when I used shoot a lot more wildlife, I used to use a Nikon D3s & 600/4 regularly, mounted on a wimberley gimbal. One thing I can HIGHLY recommend and used to religiously do was lock the gimbal before moving the tripod with the camera mounted. Well, one day I forgot ... lo and behold the camera & lens swung around and I was essentially hit in the side of the head by the D3s which was acting like the equivalent of a sledgehammer. Dazed and confused after clobbering myself with the swinging end of a D3s at the end of a pendulum, I vowed right there to NEVER do that again!

Camera & lens damage? Absolutely zero.
Damage to self? A ringing head, bump and bruise along with associated Turette‘s syndrome for a minute or so. :rolleyes: