I know it sounds silly, but as a photographer I get fairly attached to my lenses and cameras. Yes they are just bits of plastic, metal and glass, but they are also much more than that. They are what allow me to do what I love doing, creating images. As a gear junkie, I do have probably too many cameras in my office and could get rid of a few, but each one of my camera’s and lenses have their own stories to tell.
Though I am tougher on my gear than a lot of photographers when I am out shooting, that is also what helps to give each lens and camera their personalities. Every scratch or ding on my equipment reminds me of an adventure I had with each piece of equipment. There is a slight bump on the filter ring of my 20mm lens that happened while climbing Island Peak in Nepal when I threw it into my pack a little to roughly after getting some summit shots or the scratch on the LCD screen of my 5D mk II that happened when I got a little to close to the action at a Mountain Bike race. So it is with a heavy heart that I have had to retire my 24-70 lens that I nicknamed Old Faithful.
Old Faithful was my first “professional” level lens I ever owned. It has been to three Continents with me and was with me when I decided to become a professional photographer while attending at photography workshop in Cuba. In fact, for the first five years of my professional career I probably shoot over 75% of all my images on that lens. Including the image at the top of this post that won the Banf Mountain Photography Contest. Unfortunately I am not retiring the lens because I have upgraded, I actually killed it on a shoot last week. I had gone up to Rainbow Mountain just outside of Rotorua to shoot a few mountain bikers for a potential cover shot for a local magazine and the shoot had gone pretty well, but took a bit longer than planned and ended up heading back down the mountain on our bikes (me with a fully loaded camera bag on my back) as dusk settled in and we were almost all the way down when a tree branch caught my handlebar and I pin-balled into a tree at a fairly high speed. The impact was so loud that the rider in front of me heard it 400m down the trail. My camera bag took most of the blow, and I knew it was going to be painful opening it up, but I got on my bike and gingerly made my way down to the car. Once back at the car, as the other riders put the bikes on the trailer, I opened my bag and saw that the impact was worse than I thought. Old Faithful was in pieces having the mount ripped off of the lens body since it was attached to my camera at the time and the filter ring to my 20mm lens had also shattered, but fortunately the main elements were saved, also my Elinchrom Quadra head was also worse for wear with a broken flash tube and mangled reflector ring.
That was at 9pm on Thursday, and to make matters worse I had a big shoot over the weekend where I knew I was going to need my 24-70. A call to the insurance company (Always double check that all your equipment is insured, before a big shoot) and a urgent call to a camera shop in Auckland got a loaner Tokina 24-70 lens to me for my Saturday shoot, but it was not old faithful. It didn’t feel the same on my camera and for some silly reason Tokina has built their lens with the zoom going opposite from Canon’s zoom, so when I was switching between lenses, I kept zooming out when I wanted to zoom in. If I was looking at getting a third party lens then that would be a deal breaker for me. Why do manufactures have to do things like that to make life more complicated? I understand developing something that is unique to your product, but creating a zoom in the opposite direction of just about every other lens maker out there is just annoying. (Rant over)
Today I finally got the proper replacement Canon 24-70 II 2.8 lens to replace my old faithful and hopefully this lens will last even longer and go on even more adventures with me…..