If you ever thought having insurance for your camera gear wasn't worth investing into, you should take a minute to read this. It's like the old saying goes, "better safe than sorry." I learned that lesson first hand this weekend, and because of a faulty camera strap, I am now wishing I had insurance.
It was Valentine's Day, my girlfriend and I packed up the car, grabbed our Golden Retriever puppy, and headed for the Grand Canyon. As we watched the sun set over the beautiful red rocks, I proceeded to capture the beauty with my Canon 6D and 35mm L lens. It had been a perfect Valentine's Day. On our way home I stopped several times to try my luck at some long-exposure shots of the night sky. We were finally on our way home when we made a last pit stop to use the restroom. While here, I decide to bust the camera out one last time to get a night shot of the popular lookout spot, Sunset Point in Arizona. With my Slik tripod in my hand, I scurry over to the ledge to set up. As I am walking over to the ledge, I hear the most devastating sound a photographer can imagine: the horrifying sound of my camera gear exploding against the cement. I pretty much freak out at this point as I try to gather the pieces of what is left of my 35mm L lens. I start to assess what happened and realized my Peak Design camera strap had failed me. One of the anchors had broke and let my equipment fall to the ground.
Editor's Update: We now have a comment from Peak Design: "The product issue described in this article was limited to Peak Design straps made before March 2015. Since then, Peak Design has changed the material of their Anchor cords from Vectran® to Dyneema®, a material that is not susceptible to the same kind of abrasion wear. Additionally, Peak Design's new Anchors feature a multi-layered cord design that shows a bright red indicator when wear is present, alerting the user to replace the Anchor. To this date Peak Design has seen zero Anchor cord failures caused by abrasion on the new Anchors. Additionally, the original author was reimbursed in full by Peak Design for repairs made as a result of the incident below." According to Thomas Ingersoll, the aforementioned reimbursement was made after this article was published.
The damage: A Canon 35mm L lens left in pieces. A Canon 6D with possible frame damage and a cracked screen. It will also take a couple weeks to fix everything, which means I have rent a camera for all my jobs until my camera is fixed.
I received the Peak Design Leash about two years ago. I loved how easy to use the strap was, and how fast I could take on and off my camera strap. This was really appealing to me since I shoot landscapes and portraits. The Peak Design Leash has been with me since my 5D and to the 6D I purchased last year.
I also love the low-key design of the strap, with minimal logos, and not having the big "CANON" across the strap (that to me screams "come steal me"). I loved all of these features until Peak Design let me down. Their patent-pending Anchor Link™ system couldn’t even last two years. One of the threads that held the anchors just snapped, allowing my camera and lens (RIP) to fall to the cement. Although I loved the strap while I owned it, I don’t think I will trust Peak Design to hold thousands of dollars worth of my gear again.
Here is a little about the Peak Design Leash system that sells for 35 dollars.
The most versatile and quick-connecting camera strap in the world, Leash™ can adapt to any camera and any shooting situation. Easily configure Leash™ as a sling strap, neck strap, safety tether, video stabilizer and more. When you don’t need a strap, Leash™ quickly disconnects and stores in your pocket, purse or camera bag. Leash uses our patent-pending Anchor Link™ connection system and comes with four Anchors for attachment.
I reached out to Peak Design in hopes of a similar outcome as the Black Rapid story. In my email I explained to them what happened and how I loved their product. This was their response:
Thanks for reaching out to us and so sorry to hear about your camera fall due to an anchor that broke. We are continuously working to improve our anchors and you can read more here about Anchor Strength, Anchor Wear & Anchor Engineering Peak Design is not liable for any damage to your camera while using our products and are not able to refund you for camera repairs, but you can use the code ***** at www.peakdesign.com to receive a new set of anchors for free and I will send you a set of the newly designed anchors once they become available.
Although I appreciate the gesture of new free anchors, I wish they had the same customer service as Black Rapid. I believe Peak Design needs to take their patent-pending design back to the drawing board. I for one think a camera strap should last more than two years. If any of you use alternative camera straps, make sure they won't leave your lens and spirits in pieces.
I am pretty upset about the strap breaking, but this incident has opened up my eyes about looking into buying insurance. Before this, I never really considered buying insurance for my gear. I always thought it was too expensive, or that I would not ever need it. I have always been so careful with my gear, but accidents happen to us all. Whether it is a mistake of your own, or something that you would least expect, like a camera strap breaking, it is always nice to have the comfort of knowing you are not totally screwed when something like this happens.
Well, as of today I am looking into insurance.
Here is a great article by Philip Vukelich that gives more insight about affordable insurance..
And finally, here are some of the last pictures my poor lens took.