Broken Lens Horror Stories

Broken Lens Horror Stories

When was the last time you put premium fuel in your rental car? Or washed a rental car for that matter? Or were careful with a U-haul truck? You weren’t. Because it’s not yours, and that is the pattern we see some times with our gear at

Though the actual percentage of gear that gets damaged is very small compared to the overall volume of equipment we send out, over the years there have been a few, uh, interesting stories of people behaving badly with our equipment.

5. Oh look, what a nice lens on eBay
In the movies criminals are always exceedingly clever, but not so in real life. Recently an alert customer of ours pointed to a lens for sale on eBay that had the distinct markings of one of our offspring. What markings? The barcode we put on every lens that clearly reads “”. As it turns out, our customer had rented the lens, and then sold it to a pawn shop. Luckily the equipment was easily retrieved by winning the auction and working with local law enforcement to put the perpetrator behind bars. Yes, we do prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.[imgclear]

4. This is why you should always buy insurance
The story behind this lens disaster isn’t too complicated – a customer ran over it with his car. Somehow it ended up on the ground, and he backed over it. In the end it worked out OK for us though; we used it to help persuade people to buy insurance as you can see.[imgclear]

3. Someone is hitching a ride in a 7D
To be honest, we’re not sure how this one happened, but the customer sent it in with a very detailed drawing of where exactly the problem was. We have no idea how an insect could find a way inside the viewfinder of a camera, but it just speaks to the broader point here – anything can happen to gear in the wild, and it often does as you’re about to find out.[imgclear]

2. What we went through to get you the Steve Jobs story
You remember the story about Steve Jobs’ house being demolished, right? And about how we said the ride was a bit bumpy up there in Woodside? What we didn’t tell you was there was a storm brewing that day, so we decided to have a light lunch before our flight to give the clouds some time to pass. It wasn’t until we were up in the air and being jostled to and fro that we learned the plane we rented didn’t include any air sickness bags. Long story short; one of the shooters tried to eject his lunch from the backseat of the plain through the open window, and failed, miserably. Even though he was literally covered in vomit from head to toe, he steeled himself and got the shot. These are the lengths Gizmodo goes to in order to bring you exclusive news.[imgclear]

1. This is what happens when your support system is inadequate
Even if you purchase insurance with your rental and the lens gets destroyed beyond all recognition, we still need to see a carcass as proof of the destruction. Otherwise the lens is simply “lost”, and that’s not covered by insurance. Water damage is also not covered by insurance, as that is considered “negligence” by most insurance policies. If you have expensive electrical equipment so close to a body of water that it falls into it, that’s your fault, period. And such a thing happened awhile ago, to a gentleman shooting wildlife with a Canon 600mm f/4 L IS lens from the edge of a lake. It turns out his tripod was not sturdy enough to hold the behemoth lens, and when he released the tension on the ballhead the entire setup fell arse over tea kettle into the lake. The only problem? The lake was infested with alligators, so he had to hire professional divers to retrieve the carcass. We got the lens back, and eventually sold it for parts on Craigslist. Here is what it looked and sounded like before we offloaded it.

Thanks to the lens rental place that we use for our liveblog gear.