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Ambassadors Programme

Explorer

Johnny Haglund

Dec14

How much beating can a camera take?

By Johnny Haglund, Wednesday December 14, 2016
People running for shelter in Sudan, as the sandstorm hits. These kinds of situations are not very healthy for any camera, but the photo opportunities are good, so putting the cameras back in to their bags is not an option. Taken on an EOS 5D Mark II with an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens; the exposure was 1/320sec, at f/10, ISO 400.

People running for shelter in Sudan, as the sandstorm hits. These kinds of situations are not very healthy for any camera, but the photo opportunities are good, so putting the cameras back in to their bags is not an option. Taken on an EOS 5D Mark II with an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens; the exposure was 1/320sec, at f/10, ISO 400. © Johnny Haglund

I recently had a presentation in Oslo, Norway during a Canon on Tour roadshow. Among other subjects, I talked a bit about how much my cameras can stand, regarding dust, heat, humidity and so on. After the presentation, a few Canon owners came to me looking a bit surprised. They told me that they were afraid to have their cameras out even during light rain. I am not going to encourage photographers to drag their cameras through sand, rain and snow, but I would like to share a few episodes where I had no other choice than to put my camera equipment through some very tough tests.

Just to clarify: I am extremely careful with my equipment, but because my job quite often takes me to places with a very hostile environment, I sometimes have no choice. Also, extreme temperatures, heavy rain, snowstorms, sandstorms and such often make very good photos.

Sudan: I was way out in the desert of Sudan when the sky suddenly turned black. The wind picked up and within half an hour I found myself in a heavy sandstorm. Sand, dust, small sticks, dried cow dung and small stones were flying. But it looked fantastic, so I put on some glasses to protect my eyes and just continued to take photos. After the sandstorm, heavy rain arrived. It lasted all of half an hour, long enough to leave my cameras filled with wet sand and dust. The following week there was a cracking sound every time I pressed a button or turned the thumbwheel, but none of my cameras got any problems whatsoever.

Borneo: I was out in the swamps of Kalimantan, living aboard a small boat, while shooting the so-called 'canoe-cowboys'. One afternoon, as the buffaloes and cowboys came back from a day in the swamps... the sky opened. Heavy rain made me soaking wet in less than a minute. I had protection for my EOS-1D X inside my bag, but there was no time to get it, because in front of me I had such a good scene that could disappear any minute. I got my photos, but my camera was dripping wet. I was a bit afraid, but after using a towel to dry it, both lens and camera were surprisingly as good as new.

Norway: Crawling under the ground, inside narrow caves, has its toll on my cameras. I use a hard case to transport it most of the time, but sometimes it’s too narrow to use a hard case – like in Fødselspassasjen (translated as “The birth passage”), outside the city of Drammen. I could hardly get my head and hips through some parts of this tunnel, so there was no space of course for a hard case. My camera got filled with mud, got bumped against the walls and the ceiling, dragged along the floor several times… and to get my photos, I had to repeat this trip twice in one day. My camera and lens looked pretty beaten up at the end of the day, but I cleaned it and checked it when I came back home - and nothing had happened to it.

My philosophy is that I’m always as careful as I can be with my equipment, but I know that in most cases, my cameras are tougher than their owner.

And then the rain came. Canoe-cowboy bringing his buffaloes back as the sky opens and heavy rain pours down. Taken on an EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/125sec at f/8, ISO 8000.

And then the rain came. Canoe-cowboy bringing his buffaloes back as the sky opens and heavy rain pours down. Taken on an EOS-1D X with an EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/125sec at f/8, ISO 8000. © Johnny Haglund

Narrow. Fødselspassasjen takes its toll on both cameras and photographers. Taken on an EOS-1Ds Mark II with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/8sec at f/6.3, ISO 500. Canon flash used.

Narrow. Fødselspassasjen takes its toll on both cameras and photographers. Taken on an EOS-1Ds Mark II with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens; the exposure was 1/8sec at f/6.3, ISO 500. Canon flash used. © Johnny Haglund