TV SMITH's Dua Sen: My Camera Fell Into A River
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


My Camera Fell Into A River
by TV Smith

I was struggling to get upclose to some dragonflies on a cliff when the camera slipped from my hand. I know. I should always wear it around my neck. It landed on a rock near my feet before bouncing into the river below. The Olympus E-3 may be a splash-proof camera but it is certainly not advertised as submersible. Although it landed on shallow waters of about 1 meter deep, I didn't expect it to survive, especially after taking the hard knock on its way down.

A lot of things ran through my mind as I rushed down the riverbank. Did I close all the rubber caps for the various connectors properly? The camera was switched on and chances of the electronics shorting out is high. To my surprise, when I reached it 20 seconds later, the flipped-out LCD was still working and visible under the clear water.

I picked it up and noticed the Hoya UV filter has leaked water into the front lens element even though it was screwed tight. There was a tiny dent under the grip and some water stuck inside the LCD bezel. Apart from that, it appeared to be alive and well. Since it was already all wet, I submerged it again for a test shot. It was eerie (and a rare honour) to hear the muffled shutter sounds of the camera firing under water.

Underwater Without Underwater Housing
Olympus E-3, 11-22mm lens, ISO 100, f16, 1/50 sec (without underwater housing)

Everything seemed fine until I used it again in Parliament, three days later. Horrors. The optical viewfinder (pentaprism) was all misted up suddenly. There was also a spot of moisture inside the top info display. I cannot see any of the camera's readings and settings at all. Fortunately, I still have a working LCD screen and Live View to bail me out. I did not carry a spare body, as I normally would, because of the hassle of wearing a lounge suit.

After a while, I noticed even the image on the LCD screen appeared fogged up. Strange. I removed the lens and there was condensation forming on the rear element. A quick wipe and repeated removal for airing in between shots seemed to help. Despite the difficulties, I managed to get all the shots I wanted. First thing I did when I got home was to remove the lens from body and dry out both in the open sun for ten minutes. Everything cleared up and it is functioning normal again, so far.

Moral of the story: If you ever drop your E-3 into a river, remember to dry it out in the sun before using it again...

Updates: It is a public holiday here today and Mr KN Yong (Olympus Malaysia’s assistant Managing Director) just sent me a message. He advised me to send the body and lens back to 'clean up the circuit boards' just to be safe.

See also: Pictures From Parliament | Other E-3 Pictures

© 2008 TV SMITH
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