The Damage Waiver Bearly Covered This One

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A lot of photographers are glad they took out the damage waiver on equipment when accidents happen. While we hate losing equipment, I have to admit we sometimes enjoy reading about exactly how this lens or that camera returned in the shape it did. This weekend, though, we not only got one of the best stories of "how I broke your stuff", but the photographer, Andrew Kane, sent pictures of the actual event. How, you ask? Because Andrew, like the pro that he is, had a second camera and lens around his neck in case there was some close-up action while he was shooting wildlife with a Nikon D4 and 600 f/4 VR.

Here's the story in Andrew's words:

I recently rented a D4, Wimberly head, and 600VR from you, and the day
before yesterday, I had a little bit of an accident. I was photographing a
coyote here in Yellowstone and I followed it into the woods about 300yds
away from the road. As I am taking pictures of the coyote, I heard twigs
breaking behind me, and as I turned around I saw it was a grizzly bear. I
picked up the tripod with the D4 and 600 on it and slowly started to back
away. The bear got closer and closer as I tried to back up. When the bear
got to within 20 yds. of me, I bumped into a brush pile that I could not
lift the tripod over, so I had no choice but to leave the gear and continue
away from the bear.

And here's what happened next:

Courtesy Andrew Kane, moosephoto.smugmug.com


Courtesy Andrew Kane, moosephoto.smugmug.com


Not being willing to let things go with just a full pushover, the bear decided jumping up and down on the equipment would be a good idea too.


Courtesy Andrew Kane, moosephoto.smugmug.com


In a testament to the durability of the new D4, in Andrew's words "The D4 functions properly, but the lensmount is bent and the images are backfocused severely". In a testament to the wisdom of having the damage waiver, replacement equipment is already on it's way to Andrew. If he gets shots like these with his backup equipment in a situation where I would simply be concentrating on not soiling myself, I can't wait to see the shots he gets with the D4 and 600 VR in more stable conditions.

Addendum: Our friends Jody, Linda, and Anne sent us this "Bear's Perspective Flow Chart" to present the bear's point of view.

Bear's perspective flowchart, courtesy Anne Cavagnaro



59 Responses to “The Damage Waiver Bearly Covered This One”

Raven Youngblood said:

Something isn't right, the bear is standing on it's hind legs and the camera is still sitting higher than his head....how tall was this man??

JoJo said:

The photographer isn't tall, the bear happens to be small. Using the D4 width as a reference, the bear is approximately 5' tall when standing up. Pffft, I would have just wrestled with him :)

Joel Farris said:

The bear was probably just tired of all the paparazzi and responded in a manner commensurate with what Ashton Kutcher would have done.

BJ said:

That bear wouldn’t have done all that damage to a Canon.

Jay said:

The whole story sound fishy... where's this brush pile you couldn't step over with the equipment???

This is rubbish looking for attention!

dk said:

The bear was just mad at somebody trying to take his picture with Nikon equipment. If it was Canon, he would have posed and preened for the camera, I have no doubt...

Volker said:

Hi Roger!

Excellent story! I shot some photos in Yellowstone, too, but managed to keep a safe distance from wildlife, including Bisons. However, look here - an ice bear "testing" Canon equipment:


Not sure though if the 70-200 was dropped intentionally or if the entire sequence was faked - still a sad day for a fine lens...


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