The Damage Waiver Bearly Covered This One

Published May 21, 2012

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 bentย 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



Author: Roger Cicala

I’m Roger and I am the founder of Lensrentals.com. Hailed as one of the optic nerds here, I enjoy shooting collimated light through 30X microscope objectives in my spare time. When I do take real pictures I like using something different: a Medium format, or Pentax K1, or a Sony RX1R.

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  • Jon

    My question is how tall is this Andrew Kane, if a standing grizzly bear isn’t tall enough to see through the viewfinder of the tripod-mounted camera???

  • Peter

    Does a bear shoot in the woods?

    Now we know the answer.

  • These comments have bearly scratched the surface of potential bad puns.

  • This. Is. Awesome.

  • max katz

    pfft- the bear is obviously a cannon photographer ๐Ÿ˜› ๐Ÿ˜€

  • damage insurance FTW

  • The rules for being in bear county are very similar to those that govern scuba diving in shark infested waters. You dont have to be the fastest runner/swimmer in your group just dont be the slowest and above all dont do either alone!

  • Dan Wells

    In the first shot, it looks like the bear is attempting to take a picture? Maybe the coyote that both Andrew and the bear were trying to photograph (the bear using a borrowed camera) got away, with the bear only getting one shot of its tail? Bears blame their equipment more than the rest of us do, so, unsatisfied with the shot he got, the bear does his best to ruin the camera.

  • Pat Eglinton

    I guess he couldn’t bear the fact you were using Nikon equipment!! (Lol)

  • Great shots!. Irrefutable proofs for insurance company.

  • Roger Cicala

    The lens is fine, but the lens mount on the camera was bent, and the Wimberley head lost a knob.

  • Clarification please, which lens mount(s) got bent, the D4, the lens, or both?
    Glad it was rented gear and not you.

  • If this was my picture, the background would depict a desperate photographer crying while simultaneously throwing rocks at the bear in an effort to try and save the rental equipment that he didn’t have accidental coverage on..

  • John Taylor

    These would seem great for the “items for sale” section.
    Condition “Bearly used”.
    With appropriate tooth and claw mark photos.

  • Rick Ernst

    As much as I love Pelican cases, they don’t cover bear attacks… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Insurance is so much cheaper than the equipment. I haven’t had anything happen, yet, but that’s not going to stop me from insuring rentals. Roger and the LR guys are awesome.

  • Oh this is definitely being re-blogged on our site and Tumblr! LensRentals.com RULES but Grizzly Bears OVERRULE!

    Thanks for sharing guys!

  • Scratch that, just found his name, looks legit. Same guy ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Is this the same guy or did he steal the story, some of his details aren’t seeming to line up, like how he didn’t recover the equipment. Was this actual LensRentals equipment?

    Found via NikonRumors.com:

    Just figured I’d let you guys know, since plagiarism of photos sucks….

  • Dave Sucsy

    Hey Roger,
    Great stuff!
    You can’t plan or pay to get wonderfull press like this!

  • Maji

    From the fm website where the first post was made, the following jumps out, “I cleaned everything up, and apart from a tooth mark on the battery cover of the D4, a few scratches to the lens hoods, and the knobs chewed off of the wimberly, everything seemed ok… I took some test shots with the camera and lens and everything is still in perfect focus and calibration. I cannot belive after a hard fall, and a mauling by a 500lb grizly, that everything still works. ”

    That goes to show what kind of abuse professional equipment are designed to take. Maybe Nikon will be using it as an advertisement to their equipments’ durability ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • @Jeff Maltzman – The photog’s backup was a D700 with a 70-300VR, so yeah, pretty close ๐Ÿ˜€
    He’s got a thread over at FM’s Nikon board about it all.

  • Joshua Gonzalez

    Bears, it would appear, prefer to shoot Canon.

  • Terry

    Was the tripod a rental? I hope it was covered as it’s an expensive tripod and head.

  • Daniel Browning

    Wow. Way to go, Andrew! I think the damage waiver should be renamed to bear attack waiver.

  • Agree with other posters. Amazing and frightening encounter. I’ve shot numerous grizzlies in GTNP and YNP, and it can sometimes be unnerving. This event was captured phenomenally well… I’m almost afraid to ask what the focal length was on the second camera.

  • My 9-5 is working for a TV station. We have transmitters on top of many mountaintops in the sierras. One, on top of a ski hill, had a bear break into the small building that houses the equipment at the base of the tower. He didn’t do much, other than grab the power shutoff switch and pull it down, shutting off TV to many rural viewers. Bears are curious things, aren’t they?

  • Lee

    When I first saw this on FM I wondered if it was your gear haha

  • Rick Cross

    I’m envious as hell. Not of the encounter, but the quality of the photo using the backup camera. That first photo is awesome. Composition, lighting, focus… I don’t think a controlled shoot with a tame bear could be any better than this one.

  • Awesome! Sorry you guys lost to the bear. Glad he made it out. 2 days after I left Anchorage last week, a guy was mauled by a bear coming out of hibernation. He survived. It’s not cool.

  • Ron

    LOL – Only a photographer would pick up another camera and turn around and start shooting pix. Everyone else would be running the other way as fast as they can!

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