Why Insurance Could Have Saved Me When My Peak Design Strap Failed

Why Insurance Could Have Saved Me When My Peak Design Strap Failed

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:

Hi Thomas,

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.

Best, Jen

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.

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Previous comments
Jozef Povazan's picture

Hey Thomas, I had been using Black Rapid RS7 system, where the anchors are metal ones and after 2 years of using it with D3s-70-200VRII combo even that metal piece started to wear out so much that it got thinner by 30%!!! I was still using it but also checking it before every shoot. Then before this season started I simply reached out to the company and expressed myself that I do not want to wear this out anymore and what they suggestions would be for me. You know what they did, They thanked me to let them know, told me that this version1 was not as great designed as the new one and send me 3 anchors to replace the older one, and plus completely new RS7 system to set me up for the new season and my other cameras! The lesson, you are the only person responsible for your gear, no one else! I had my lenses, flashes and lights broken to the pieces at events by people who simply were having fun / too much boost etc at weddings /, that is part of being working photographer. A carpenter breaks a hammer from time to time a photographer breaks a lens... Things happen and a strap thing, honestly, even if you drive a car and you crash because your tire was already without any thread on it, would you try to ruin a company like Michelin because of that..? Only you know how much of the life in that strap was left, so if you let it be and did not pay attention to it, the bad thing happened to you because you underestimated it. Nothing last forever, and the insurance is a good thing but common sense is above it IMO. So good luck with a new strap, but the complete back up gear would be my recommendation unless one day you break it again but this time you upset a client of yours who will be left without images when your gear is in the pieces ! Things happen, get ready for that :) Happy shooting.

Joel Meaders's picture

Sorry to hear about that. Insurance IS cheap. I have coverage for $18.5k in camera gear, 10K in office equipment and $2M in general liability, theft coverage + a bunch of other things and it's only $135 every quarter. http://www.tcpinsurance.com/

Also, If you're shooting weddings you really should have insurance. If someone trips over a light stand and breaks a leg you're pretty much done.

Stephen Strangways's picture

Joel is so very right. If you're a working photographer, i.e. you get paid, it is critically important that you have liability insurance. It's likely even more important than insuring your gear, for that one time that someone gets hurt, or you "ruin someone's wedding day" and they sue you for thousands, or even millions of dollars.

Mark B's picture

Sure, rub it in. TCP won't write insurance policies in Louisiana.

The Black Rapid article is titled "Black Rapid goes above and beyond."

"Above and beyond" means more than what is needed, necessary, required, or expected. Which means if BR did not do it, that it would be them doing what is expected. It's a shame that customers feel the need to either get what they want or effectively blackmail a product company. If you replace my gear, I'll write and article singing your praises about how you go above and beyond. If you don't, I'll say your whole company sucks. I just' don't see a small company like Peak who started with Kickstarter (right?) being able to hand out $ every time someone breaks their camera and says it's their fault.

Adam Lyon's picture

Ugh! This breaks my heart, and I know I need to get insurance (even though I have nowhere near as much $ in gear as many of you do... I would only need to insure my 6D and 24-105L at the moment. Probably wouldn't insure my t3i and lenses)

Sorry this happened to you, but I'm glad I read the story.

Hey Thomas, Sorry for your loss, never cool. I'm a PD pro, I've used the anchor system since before the kickstarter [ https://instagram.com/p/RynTxNizBf ] in many configs, no issues to date - I do notice how my anchors are looking, I guess, because I swap straps between multiple cameras. Anyways, just sharing... Better luck in the future! --S

Ramon Acosta's picture

I really don't blame the author for not checking the strap, mine is 12 years old. It has been with me four cameras, there is very little fraying, but I will check more often.

Mark B's picture

I have these on all of my camera bodies. Just had the opportunity to take them all off and inspect them. Several are worn over halfway through and are definitely at the breaking point. Guess I should say thanks for this, and I'll be taking advantage of that lifetime warranty on the product.

In my opinion, there are only two manufacturers of conventional camera straps whose products are worth using: Upstrap: http://www.upstrap-pro.com and Op/Tech: http://optechusa.com. Upstraps are like limpets: they just stick to your shoulder. Op/Tech straps are incredibly comfortable when wearing the camera around the neck. If you want something fancier, Black Rapid is probably still the best around.

George Popescu's picture

This is ridiculous, you've owned the strap for two years, it's not faulty equipment unless the company warranties the strap for a lifetime which I don't think any company does. It's called wear and tear, it can happen to a bag, a tripod and of course a strap.

Not caring enough to check on your equipment is your fault and not of a company that sold you a product two years ago. You should check the condition of your tripod, strap and hell even carry bag regularly if you really care about your equipment. Not use it for two years and when it's run its time try to whine or get something free from the company.

As you said the strap is only $35, so buy another one and this time buy a more expensive and hopefully stronger one. You wouldn't buy a $35 tripod and expect it to last two years or more so why do you expect this from a strap, it boggles the mind that you'd write an article about it.

Especially since it happened to you with a Blackrapid strap as well, so it pretty much proves that you abuse your equipment. No one ever saw Joe McNally complain that some strap broke and it damaged his equipment.

Mine does.

I have been using my PD straps for over a year on a Canon 5D and a small Rebel that I used for real estate panos. I designed products for many years and as such I tend to notice little issues with the design of the gadgets I use and the first thing I noticed when I attached the original Canon straps to my 5D was that the metal strap mounts on the 5D are a terrible design. They are made from pressed metal that has almost 90 degree edges and I thought to myself, "These strap mounts are going to wear through just about anything over time". A good design would have perfectly rounded surfaces for the strap to rub against. (Take a close look at your Canon, even a non technical person will notice it is not a great design.) I seem to think Nikon have much better strap mount but can't remember for certain.

While it seems that the original PD straps had issues, I do not think it is fair to place the blame for the failure only on PD. I took a look at some of my older canon straps and they too are showing wear from these nasty Canon strap mounts. A PD strap has a fraction of the surface area that is in contact with the mounting point compared to a Canon strap so it is to be expected it will last a fraction of the time if made from the same material.

One should always keep a careful eye on your gear when you change something from original equipment to a custom solution. The OE solution would have been rigorously tested as a single unit. Even though Canons strap mount is not a great design, it is good enough when combined with their very bulky straps.

I would like to see Canon improve their mounts.

Yesterday my Rebel got stolen out of an overhead luggage compartment on a flight from Denver to Portland with my PD strap attached, so I no longer have to worry about my PD strap failing - in fact I hope it fails tomorrow... :)

When I purchase a new one, I will certainly keep an eye on it as long as it is attached to a Canon.

I loved my PD strap and will not hesitate to replace mine with another PD. It is great for the work I do.

Get one but check on it from time to time. You are dangling a few thousand dollars on the end of a very fancy piece of string - it just makes sense to check the piece of string from time to time.

I had an anchor link wear out on me after only a day of shooting. Turns out I was using it with an old plate not designed for it. Jen hooked me up with a new plate, and some newer style anchor links that have different colors inside (Black exterior, yellow interior, red core) to help you notice if stuff is wearing out.

I use Slide with a Sigma 150-600 Sport and a 5D3. I check my links regularly for wear.

Free lifetime warranty on Peak Design stuff, if a link wears out its your own fault for not checking it and getting it replaced.

This article is comparable to getting mad at a brake manufacturer because your car's brakes failed when they were worn out. Everyone's use is different, that link looks super worn out. IMO its your own fault for not checking your gear.

Should be titled "Photographer doesn't check equipment for two years, and the inevitable happens". Kind of messed up that this is the first thing that pops up when I search for a review of their camera bag. But at least you got that off your chest yea?