With aspirations comes risk. Sometimes, the risk is your own. Other times, the risk is to your equipment. It is this latter element that I would like to discuss today. As a cautious individual, I am constantly struggling with the idea of pushing the limits of a photograph, only to be waylaid by what I believe to be a risk for my equipment. To some degree, the concern for such risk is warranted. To another degree, we tend to over-exaggerate what can or cannot happen to our equipment. I will admit that I am guilty of such behaviors. Am I being over-cautious?
The truth is your equipment is a lot tougher than you are led to believe. When you unpack your camera, your lenses or your other gear for the first time, you are given an instruction manual with safety and care precautions. These precautions include things to avoid such as submersion, extreme heat, extreme cold, sudden changes in temperature, humidity and so on. Browsing the web will only lead you further down the misconception path. One might believe your gear is as fragile as a balsa wood plane. That really isn’t the case – your gear can handle a lot.
Now I’m not saying you should go out and actively try to void all your gear’s warranties. However, I am trying to get you to realize that your gear doesn’t need to be babied as much as you might think. While it might affect resale value, a scratch or a scuff mark on your favorite lens will not impact it’s ability to do it’s job to its fullest potential. A few drops of rain for a very short and infrequent duration is not going to render your camera completely useless. And going from a warm 80° F house out into a 15° winter wonderland will not break all the seals on your lens. To do any of these regularly is not advisable. But that single or infrequent occurrence will not find you shopping for a replacement.
So don’t be afraid to shoot in potentially extreme conditions – don’t be afraid to let your gear get banged up or scratched – and get out there and shoot like you have nothing to lose. Chances are, you really aren’t putting your gear at risk.
As a fun sidebar discussion, I’d like to hear about the most extreme situation your gear has been in. Share your story below.