The Salty Death of My Trusted Camera

This was a tragic week at Studio Dave, for it saw the lost of a trusted friends… my beloved camera, a Sony a6500 camera body with a 18–200mm lens.

It all started on a trip to the coast of North Carolina for a much-needed break from the work-from-home world that we’re all living in lately.  Pandemics are dumb, and I think we should stop having them, but it’s not my call, so I’m making the best of it.

This is actually the second attempt at a beach trip this year. The first was preempted by Hurricane Isaias back on August 1. I was so excited to actually go somewhere, I made a 1/12 scale beach chair for Deadpool to sit in (as one does) for our first trip. The chair looks like this:

That chair has been sitting in my camera bag for almost two months. So when I got to the beach I was super excited to finally get to use the chair in a shot.  I set up on the beach, put Deadpool in his chair, added some props, and clicked away, happy as a clam.

Impending doom

My wife was nearby and said, “I think this wave is gonna get close.” I looked up and saw the wave approach, but it stopped just before my setup, so I said, “Nah, it’s fine.”

“But…” my lovely wife exclaimed, “What about that one?”

I looked up to see a rogue wave crash into my setup and bury Deadpool, the chair, and my camera in nice, salty ocean water.

I pulled everything up right away, but it was too late. The camera was drenched. Most of the controls were full of beach funk and didn’t work anymore. The lens no longer focused, or showed its f/stop. Oops.

The camera is a trooper though, and the last shot it took before the wave hit happened to be the exact shot I was looking for. Thanks, little buddy. That shot, polished up in Photoshop, looks like this:

The last image my camera took before the tragedy.

My poor camera…

When I got back to the beach house I looked at things more closely.  Swapping lenses with my wife’s camera (which is identical) showed that indeed both the lens and the camera body were dying. Sometimes the camera would give errors, sometimes it would do nothing. I then switched it to automatic mode and I was able to take a photo. Then I hit the shutter  again and it went into burst mode, and wouldn’t stop until I hit the power button. It could no longer be focused, especially if the lens was zoomed out.
Clearly my camera was now possessed by a salt demon.

I could take a photo, and if I happened to put a figure in the exact right spot where the focus was when it died I could get a clean image. It’s a very limited set of options, but it has one more dying gasp of art left in it.

One last hurrah

Thats when I had the idea to give my camera one last send off and try to capture the cause of its death in some sort of poetic finale. So I went back down to the beach, with my wife in tow (as external documentarian), set up Deadpool in the surf, and waited for a nice large wave to roll in. This was the last thing my camera saw before it died completely:

The last heroic act of my trusty camera.

After this, it showed an “overheated” message on the back screen, (ironic given it was covered in water) and then went black for the last time.

It’s…. it’s dead, Jim.

My wife also captured its final moments:

Camera getting soaked in the ocean.

Thanks, little buddy. You and I made some great art, and had some great adventures together. You will be missed.


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  1. Matthew Wyjad

    I’m so happy you got to give it a good death. I too lost my firat DSLR to salt water. However it was more slow and insidious water death. I am from from Ontario, the land of fresh water playground lakes. Fresh water is simple, and generally respects its bounderies on any given day. However, on my trip to Cape Breton to meet the parents i was reminded that bodies of salt water are more complicated. I placed my camera a safe distance from the shore and the wave break (it was nearly dead calm). My girlfriend and her cousin thought it would be a great idea to bury me in the sand. After they completed the work my girlfriend went to grab my camera which i had left on a floaty. The floaty was not where i left it. It was lazily hovering over my DSLR which was 6 inches under water. What i had neglected to factor into the safe placement of my camera was the tide which happened to be in full flow at the time. Safe spots near the ocean do not remain safe spots. It and my 18-250mm lens died very quietly.

  2. Oliver Peterson

    I loved reading this when editing. It’s such a fun, albeit painful, and unique read. So, not only did the camera’s death give you some good shots, but it entertained all of your readers!

  3. Mary Wardell

    So sorry for the loss of your camera, Dave but it sure makes for a tale you’ll be able to spin for years to come!Much better than my tale of saving my camera at the expense of a dislocated shoulder. And even better you have photographic evidence! (Glad your new camera is safely in hand!)

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