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 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



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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  • c579345@trbvn.com

    The bear flowchart should maybe have “Can it be chased” at the top, since that’s how the photographer ended up dropping the tripod in the first place. Otherwise pretty good! I wonder if carrying a dog’s chew toy as a “distraction drop item” would be a good idea for future bears

  • 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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  • dk

    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…

  • Jay

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

    This is rubbish looking for attention!

  • BJ

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

  • Esa Tuunanen

    Well, every bear can’t be full grown half ton teddy bear…

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

  • JoJo

    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 🙂

  • 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??

  • oriniangomy

    Who and where to edit this summer on holiday, share your information.

  • Terry

    I would have been more impressed if those pictures had been taken with a 12mm wideangle 🙂

  • If you find some bear dung how can you tell if it’s from a black bear or a grizzly bear?

    Grizzly bear dung has bells in it and smells like bear spray.

  • W Scott

    I don’t mean to panda to the lowest common denominator, but the bear photos give me paws to reflect on what could have been a more grizzly outcome. I appreciate the koala-ty photos and the koala-ty support of lens rentals. I don’t believe the bear is a photographer, though. He appears to be a cub reporter. Thankfully, the Canon-Nikon debtate has not produced buy polar effects.

  • Evidently bears get grizzly when they see a paparazzi.

  • corntrollio

    I’m just surprised no one is complaining about his focus, composition, or exposure in the backup camera photos.

    Nevermind, OP did: http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1114874/4#10647434

  • Gary Miller

    So that brush pile you couldn’t get around is those two logs that are maybe a few feet high? Then when you couldn’t get past this obstacle you set the tripod back up and then ran? Gotta call BS on the story. Funny pics though

  • Craig Stull

    Nikon D4, takes a lickin’ and keeps on clickin’!!

  • Brettr

    “As I am taking pictures of the coyote…”

    As I was taking pictures

    Can’t anyone get tense right these days????

  • K D Sandmann

    So the bear was obviously insulted that inferior equipment was being used.
    Such a diva!

  • TimR

    Jon said:

    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???

    Andrew probably wanted a high angle shot and firing it by remote

  • TimR

    it came out of hibernation to see Nikon’s latest and greatest, took a sniff and a taste, and thought, bloody hell it looks and tastes same as that old D3s, angrily stomped the heck out of it, and took off to hibernate another 4 more years in anticipation for the next D5 lol 🙂

  • TimR

    where are the photos of it stomping and chewing on the camera?
    I can see Nikon’s next addy… ‘bear tested and bear tough’ lol

  • Don Cooper

    Photos all look a little blue, should have had the bear hold a gray card.

  • Jim Ewing

    That is most likely the same lens I rented from you guys for my Everglades trip in Florida a couple of weeks ago. The lens was also attacked when I was using it. Granted, it was attacked by mosquitoes and black flies, but they still hurt. Where do I post images?

  • Jim Thomson

    There’s always something interesting posted on this site.

  • Do you suppose the bear would have treated Canon equipment a little better? 🙂

  • Steven Sax

    The bear definitely prefers Nikon, however this clearly demonstrate that the D4’s ergonomics are flawed; clearly it needs an additional battery grip for those of us with unusually large paws (I mean fingers)….

  • He did the right thing and it was probably good that is was a small bear, a full size one might have done a lot more damage.

  • James Carlson

    Someone needs to tell Stephen Colbert. If this doesn’t make it to number 1 on the Threat Down, I don’t know what will.

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