There is nothing like the ever so slow descent of an expensive camera as it falls to the cement, bouncing in its own little cloud of camera dust. If you use a camera often, daily in my case, you know one of them will eventually take the dive. Just a matter of time and statistics. The owner of my camera shop looked up at me once from his repair bench when I placed a Nikon on his counter with the strap dangling over the edge.

"That's how half of them are broken," he said. "Never let the carrying strap fall where it can be snagged. That's how most of them come in here for repair."

I made the mental note. Camera strap. Right. From that day forward I've been as careful placing the strap as I've been in placing the camera.

There are two traditional ways to lose a camera: theft and accident. If you accumulate a fair amount of equipment, eventually you might want to buy a personal property policy with a specific add on for camera theft. Every professional has one. I've heard too many "I owned (and loved) a CameraX that was stolen from my apartment - house - car - backpack and never had the heart (or the money) to replace it."

My own policy lists my equipment by serial number, where purchased and its cost. If it's stolen, no matter where it's stolen, from my house or from my unconscious body lying on some back street in Beirut, the insurance company replaces it brand new, no fair market value nonsense, no deduction for depreciation. You need to shop around for the best price, but it's worth it. If you drop it, unfortunately, it's on your own hook.

I recently watched that Nikon make that slow motion fall to the sidewalk. I was leaving a grassy area separated from the sidewalk by a plastic fence, stepping over it at a place where it had been trampled down by the crowd. It caught the tip of my shoe, my camera bag over my left shoulder with one Nikon and three lenses inside, the second Nikon held by its strap in my right hand. I remember watching it fall as I fell, as if I were observing from a distance, the Nikon floating beside me, knowing the camera bag was out of my field of vision to the left, thinking it was padded and probably safe, all this in slow motion.

I stopped my fall with a two point landing on the heel of my hand and the side of my knee. A couple who'd been approaching hurried over and asked if I were all right. "All right," I mumbled, picking myself up, hoisting the camera bag over my left shoulder and picking up the Nikon mounted with a short 50mm lens from the sidewalk. "No damage, just a little embarrassed?" the woman asked. Ah, yes, I thought. Embarrassed. They're talking about me and not the camera. I nodded I was OK and thanked them. Nice couple.

The camera was slightly scuffed on the bottom, the lens undamaged. A lens in the bag had had its lens shade broken, but the lens itself was all right. $20 lens shade, $600 lens. No complaints. I made sure after that all the lenses in my bag were packed lens shade down and any strobes well padded underneath.

Some things to consider whether you use a camera full time or twice a year: Think about where you place your camera and where you coil the strap. If you snag the strap the camera follows. Take a look at the camera strap itself and make sure it's well secured. I use a short piece of black electrician's tape to wrap around the end of the strap to secure it to itself. Over time they come loose. I know this from experience. I got lucky and caught that one half way to the floor.

And third, most important: Yes, watch your step so you don't have to watch your camera in free fall, but, if you do, watch out for yourself. That couple who ran over to help me had the right idea. Camera bodies can be replaced, with or without insurance. Human bodies can't. That little fall of mine on hand and knee? Ouch!

The photograph. Ah, yes. There is no photograph.
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