Japan, Day Nineteen.

yonago japan neighborhood

The last frame.

October 20, 2011

This image is insubstantial. It was for me, a visual note of place in a place where I have no GPS and street signs are limited to highways. Oh, and the signage is all in a crazy language I can't understand very well. Visual and spatial memory is the solution to the problem of disorientation.

After coming from another session of Japanese language, my friendly volunteer tutor invited me to her home for a dinner on the 30th. Instead of a map I got a tour through the Yonago streets right to her front door. I took this shot to remember to turn right past that large white house, down the little alleyway. Then my camera fell to the pavement, dying on impact.

I didn't freak out. This surprised me. I just thought "well that's over."

As I went to sling my camera over my shoulder for the ride home, the body and lens spun just enough for the tripod screw-mounted strap attachment to come out of the tripod screw mount. I don't want to complain about a product here, this blog is not for industry commentary, but I will say I am disappointed in the BlackRapid strap. Years of hauling gear around by me neck should have made me know better than to trust a single mount point, used in an alternative fashion, rather than the two, the standard for years, the camera has built in. I should have known better than to assume just because a strap cost $80 it would be 100% reliable. The sling design is a brilliant idea for a strap, and one that makes using the camera far more natural and convenient. But it's at the cost of reliability. There are no failsafes. There is only a rubber gasket and a screw, constantly torqued by a carabiner. I fired off an email to BlackRapid. I never got a reponse. I didn't expect one. And I'm rambling about something I can do nothing about.

When the Nikon hit the pavement, it made a quiet, dull, solid thud - a sound of the voices of a million little components crying out and then suddenly disappearing. Other cameras I've had could take that impact. Other Nikon DSLRs I've had have taken that sort of impact. But, whatever the variables in this fall were, this fall was more than the camera could handle.

In the way that blood takes just a second to come gushing out after you've been cut down to a tendon, then refuses to relent, thinking about my brick of a camera became nauseating. I repeatedly took battery out, put the battery back in, flicked switches and behaved in a desperate, irrational way as if I could make it work again. None of these things helped. I didn't reasonably expect them to. The fear was coming from feelings that I'm a stranger in a strange land with no idea to whom to turn for help.

I knew the cost of repair, if possible, would be severe. I could handle that, even though it will dig in to my other plans to tour Japan - fewer ryokans, more hostels now. It's knowing that I don't have a camera when I want to photograph so many of the new things I'm seeing. Perhaps its the thought that I was foolish, feeling gulity for my stupidity. Or that if I had checked the mount - if I knew to check the mount - I could have tightened it beforehand. But maybe it's the divine will of Daisen saying I have to stop behaving like the great white hunter anthropologist on an excursion to the orient and just look at things.

When senses returned to to me I took 3 hours to translate Nikon's Japanese website. Nikon USA was of no help in getting in contact with a repair facility here. Nikon Japan's agents spoke no English. Why would they, anyway? But with the help of Google translate and the return of patience, I filled out the paperwork for a ショック・落下の修理 - "shock" roughly.

Nikon says they'll have the camera back in a week, on Halloween. It'll be ¥54,491 to fix, C.O.D.

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