- Examine the exterior of your camera for any dents, scratches and cracks or whether it’s in pieces and parts. The best-case scenario is that the damage is only minimal.
Next, look closely at the lens. If you’re lucky, then the camera was turned off, which means the lens was retracted into the camera body and could have been protected from the hard knock. If you were in the middle of shooting with the lens extended, however, then the likelihood of damage occurring is much greater. Look carefully to see if any of the glass elements inside are broken. If that’s the case, then your camera may need to be admitted to a camera “hospital” (an authorized service center of the manufacturer) for repairs.
If the camera isn’t in pieces or lens damage isn’t readily evident, then determine if it will still work, especially if the disaster occurred while in the on position. If the camera was off, then try to activate it. If it doesn’t seem to want to work, then the only course of action is the “hospital” again.
If the camera is working or will work when put it in the on position, then try to zoom the lens. A sufficiently hard knock may not allow it to move smoothly and normal. You may have discovered, while examining the lens, that it appears bent. Depending on how much it has become misaligned, you may be able to straighten it, but be very careful. If it seems to return to a normal alignment, then test the zoom mechanism. It’s best not to force the lens into place if it seems difficult to move. In that case, you’ll need the expertise of the “doctors” at the camera “hospital.”
After determining the camera can be activated and the lens zooms as it should, you can make the final test to determine if it will still take pictures. You’re not only looking for properly exposed and framed photos, but also that the various internal systems, such as auto focus, are also working. Take a number of images and review them carefully. You might even want to compare them to photos you captured just before the disaster to help you judge whether your camera is working correctly.
Compact digital cameras are designed and manufactured for active use and lifestyles: travel, vacations and fun with family and friends. These kinds of activities make them vulnerable to being dropped onto hard surfaces. Some cameras, such as those in the adventure photography category, are built for rugged use and are rated to be dropped from a prescribed height; however, they are typically more expensive than most compact cameras. Spending the extra money for them is not wise unless you are a rock climber, skateboarder or other type of adventure seeker.
When disaster does strike, there are a few steps you should take immediately to rescue your camera, and determine the extent of damage.
You’re having a fun time with the family at the park or a nightspot with your friends. You’re shooting picture after picture, and suddenly your compact camera slips from your hands and falls to the sidewalk, floor or other hard surface. It’s time to call Photography 911 and check on the condition of the patient!
Of course, prevention is always the best method to ensure your compact camera is protected from a world of hard knocks. If yours comes with a shoulder or wrist strap, then always use it. It may not be comfortable and a bit of a hassle, but it’s better than an expensive repair bill or having to buy a new camera.
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