We learn from our mistakes

American alligator, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville Florida
American alligator, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville Florida | Canon 1D Mark III and 300mm f/4 lens with 1.4x TC | Exposed 1/320 sec. @ f/5.6, ISO 500

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve explored the Atlantic coast of Florida as we consider a move to the sunshine state.  A visit to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge treated us to an amazing sunset and a young American alligator in brilliant blue water the following morning.

American alligator image in Lightroom with all of the clone stamp indicators highlighted
American alligator image in Lightroom with all of the clone stamp indicators highlighted

Unfortunately, I made a pretty serious tactical error the evening before: I mounted the 300mm lens I would use to make the image above while the car’s air conditioning was still running, and did not check and clean the sensor back at the motel that evening.  The result?  The above image, upon scrutiny, revealed a field of dust bunnies scattered along the lower third of the frame (top 1/3 of the sensor, since the image is reversed.)  While image cleanup has become easier with each new version of Photoshop and Lightroom, I still prefer not to have to do very much in the first place.  Lesson?  Better to take the 10 minutes to clean the sensor than to spend an hour and a half in front of the computer to rescue a photograph!

Canon Teleconverters & Sticky locking pins

I am not certain to what extent it is common knowledge that Canon’s teleconverters (TC’s) can develop problems with their locking pins. Specifically, that the locking pin becomes “sticky” and does not always engage into the lens to which it is being attached.  This past April, on Artie Morris’ Fort DeSoto, Florida IPT, one participant’s Canon DSLR and 1.4x TC fell off of his 500mm lens.  The TC’s faulty locking pin, which never engaged into the 500mm lens, led a counter-clockwise turn of the camera and lens (via the lens’ tripod collar) to become a near disaster.  Thanks to a flash cord attached to the camera’s hot shoe, the camera splashed in the salt water but bounced back up and later recovered–it was never wholly submerged.

Ever since that event, I’ve been far more aware of the condition of all of my Canon TC’s and extension tubes.  I noticed shortly thereafter that my 1.4x II TC’s locking pin began to engage only half of the time.  Pushing the lever forward would force it to work, but did not constitute a fix.  Finally, I sent it to Canon Jamesburg at the very end of April and had it repaired for $70.00.  However, the fix did not last!

This November at Bosque del Apache I noticed that the locking pin was developing the problem that Canon repaired at the end of the spring.  It had been six months and three weeks: three weeks outside of Canon’s warranty on all repairs.  The good news–and kudos to Canon–is that sending it in with a letter explaining the problem, and a copy of the dated invoice from the repair in April, led them to repair the TC free of charge.

Just let it serve as a warning: if anything is not working as it should, and it is of enough concern that you need to remind yourself whenever using it to exercise caution because it could break, just get it fixed!  The last thing you want is to lose a $4000 camera body because you didn’t want to pay for a $70 repair.