Here's what happened when my $7,965 camera… fell off a cliff...


I'm back at the accident scene where my camera fell off this cliff, and I hope you can hear me okay over the waterfall rushing behind me.


So it was the summer of 2023, and my wife, my daughter, and I decided to go up to Michigan to go to the Pictured Rocks National Park to do some sightseeing, some hiking, and, of course, to get some photos.

So we come across this trail, and we’re hiking for about an hour, and we come across this waterfall right here.

This is mosquito falls.

So I’m up above about 20, 30 feet above, and I’m looking for a good vantage point to get a photo of this waterfall, but I couldn’t find one.

And then, I’m trying to find a way down to see if I can get lower with the waterfall and shoot at the same angle or perspective of where the waterfall was.

But I couldn’t find any way to get down. And then, out of the corner of my eye, this little cove that is dug into the side of the ridge caught my attention.

I’m like, all right, I’m gonna go inside of there, and I’m gonna try that vantage point and try and get a photo from there.

Now it’s really narrow. I have a 20-pound backpack on me.

So I’m walking in there real slow, leaning against the ridge, and I get to the end, turn around, squat down, and start looking for a shot from that vantage point.

But again, nothing was really standing out. I just couldn’t find the shot, right?

So I’m like, okay, this isn’t gonna work. I’m going to try and get to the bottom somehow.

So I realize when I stand up that my legs are a little wobbly from the heavy backpack.

I’m outta shape.

So getting outta here is gonna be harder than getting in the ground is wet. It’s really narrow, and I might lose my balance.

So I decided to take my backpack off.

So I take that off and get on my hands and knees, but I still have my Nikon z8 in one hand.

And I decide I will push the backpack forward as I crawl out, but I can’t crawl with one hand.

So, I decided to push the backpack forward and then put the camera on the backpack.

Now, the backpack was smooth side up, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but thinking back, it was at a bit of an angle towards the creek or the river here.

And I reach out, put my camera on there, and it doesn’t move. Everything looks fine.

So I begin to crawl out slowly, and I nudge the backpack just a tiny bit.

And I’m seeing the camera start to move, and I’m thinking, no.

And the camera just slides right off, and I’m inches away from grabbing that for that camera, and it plummets to the ground. I’m not worried about, you know, getting out.

Now I’m rushing out.

I grab that backpack, stand up, and I’m running out, and I get out there, and I’m panicking, and I’m going back and forth.

My heart is racing, my palms are sweaty. I can’t find a way down.

What am I gonna do? And once I realized what I had done, it was too late because I was in mid-air.

Yes, I jumped at my age. Not a great idea. And then I have the realization of having to face the destruction of the camera.

Did it survive? Did the lens survive? Did the filter survive? I have no idea.

So it’s now time to find out.

So I turn around, and gingerly walk to the camera.

And as I look down, I realize that the camera is embedded in three inches of wet, moist soil and mud.

It’s kind of a sandy little area, and it’s entrenched in it deep. And now I’m thinking, was that enough to lessen the impact?

And is my camera and lens going to survive this fall?

So I reach over and I grab and pull the camera out of the soft, moist soil, and I wipe it off.

As I cradle the camera in my arms, like a newborn baby, I wipe it clean of all the soil.

So I decided to look at the Nikon z8 first because it’s the most expensive, and I have other lenses for the trip.

Hopefully, the camera is okay.

So I turn it over and around, and I’m looking, and to my surprise, there’s not a single crack dent.

Not even a scratch. I was pretty amazed, to be honest.

So it’s time to look at the lens, and I turn it, and I turn it, and I turn it, and then I stop.

And I let out a little gas, actually a big gasp because my new prime lens has a new indentation in the side, but it’s just cosmetic.

Is my lens still going to work? Is it going to focus properly? Is my camera gonna turn on?

Is it going to be able to allow me to change the camera settings and actually create an image?

Well, before I try and figure that out, I have one more piece of equipment to find if any damage was applied to it in the fall.

And that is my brand new two-in-one circular polarizer neutral density filter.

A $300 filter I had bought just for this trip.

In fact, I had just taken it out of the box to take a photo of mosquito falls.

And I had just placed it on, never used, and now it was encased in mud.

So I gently rubbed it off, and to my surprise, not a single dent crack or anything.

And then at that moment, the sunlight began to filter through the trees, and I lifted up the filter to shine the light onto it.

And at that moment, the sunlight began to dance across the tens of thousands of teeny tiny scratches that populated the lower half of the filter, where it was encased in sand and mud.

So now I’m thinking I lost a $300 filter and I’m not going to be able to use it for this trip. So I took it off and I put it in my pocket for another day.

Alright, so now, the moment of truth, it’s time to turn on the camera to see if it actually will.

So I flip that switch and boom, it lights up. I have an image on the back of the LCD, I can see through the viewfinder. I can see the data on the screen on top here.

So I begin adjusting my camera settings to get another shot of this waterfall to see if it actually works.

But first, let’s take a look through the viewfinder one more time to line up that composition, and let’s see if the lens will actually focus.

So I place my finger on that shutter release button, and I begin to slowly press it halfway down.

And that familiar sound you hear when it begins to focus rang out loud and true. So everything is looking great so far.

Now it’s time to take the photo.

So I press the shutter release button all the way down, and you hear that clicking sound, and boom, I have a photo.

So now it’s time to inspect the photo.

So I zoom in, left, right, top, bottom. I’m inspecting every aspect of the image from every corner side to side. And to my surprise, the image came out just like the camera was brand new.

So my Nikon Z eight, my lens survived the 30, 40, 50 foot fall.

Picture of Parker
A 30-year photography pro with a desire to help you achieve your creative vision! Facebook | Youtube

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