What To Do When You Break Your Camera

Don’t Panic
As with any unfortunate event, the key is to not panic. Falling to pieces and getting overly emotional about the event will not help keep your mind clear and make the most of the situation. Panicking leads to other mistakes, which can be costly in their own right. Keep your cool! A bit of profanity is permissible.

Grab The Pieces, All Of Them
Once you are finished with your (minor) freak out, because you didn’t listen to the first bit of advice, start picking up the pieces. Unless you are in a calm setting, such as at home in the kitchen, you are probably out in public and need to make sure all the bits are grabbed before they get scattered. Enlist help if need be. You never know which little piece will be helpful in getting things back together. Even if it looks unimportant, grab it.

Take Out The Battery

If your battery hasn’t flown free from your camera and skittered half a mile away (most camera batteries are built with self preservation instincts and fly free from a breaking camera at the first sign of trouble) now is a good time to take it out. If your camera is partially functioning, more damage can be done from parts trying to move when they don’t quite line up. Accept your fate and deal with it. Power off your camera completely to avoid additional damage.

Grab Your Flash Card
Your card is a solid state device and, barring electric jolt, will retain the images recorded to it. Corrosives will cause damage, but a quick dunk in a pool of water, while a bad thing for your camera and the electricity it carries, is not necessarily fatal to your images. Grab that card out and dry it off, completely. Heck, you may even have one interesting last image as your camera met its fate.

Do No Harm
Unless you are a pro at this type of fixing, your expensive DSLR is not a good item on which to start learning about camera repair. Leave it to the pros.

Check Your Warranty
Before you send in your camera for repair, they’ll want to know about your warranty. This starts with recording the information some place logical and easy to retrieve. Maybe in online email. Maybe on your cell phone (if you are on a trip). Maybe a tattoo. Whatever works for you, when you buy a camera, record this information for easy retrieval. Having an easy way to find this information will make life easier when it is already stressful.
Also check to see what your warranty covers. Most won’t cover negligence (accidents) and other incidents. Know before you have something go wrong.

Check Your Insurance
If the warranty won’t cover an accident, it is possible a homeowners or renters insurance policy will. Again, make sure the information is easy to find and understand the limits before using it.

Know Your Repair Options
Not everything needs to head back to the manufacturer’s factory. Local camera shops often offer repair and the service and price varies greatly. Most large brands will offer a free estimate before proceeding with a repair, much like a car mechanic should. Ask around and get as many free estimates as you can if you have the luxury of time.

Know You Can Rent While Repairs Happen
Often it is calming to know a rental option is available, either online or around the street corner. Being without a prized lens or body when a shoot is planned for the near future will cause a spike in blood pressure. Relax. While it will cost additional funds, there are options to make sure you can keep shooting until your gear comes back to you.

Check eBay For Replacements

While you are waiting for your free estimate for repair , check eBay and other secondhand resources for replacements. Sometimes we fall in love with our gear and keep it for years beyond its production date. If it’s not available new, it may be available on the secondary market.

Sell It, Don’t Trash It
If the camera or lens is a total loss, don’t just throw it in the trash to clog another landfill. Look again to eBay and other sites where broken equipment can be listed (with proper notation). One man’s trash is another man's treasure. Repair shops can scavenge usable parts off of the body and get them on other cameras which met a similar fate. Plus it is a chance to turn a complete loss into enough money to buy a beer to cry into.

Move On
Sometimes broken stuff doesn’t come back to life.  Sometimes it stays broken.  The positive spin on this?  It’s time to start shopping for a newer, better, faster, cooler camera!

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