Friday, August 07, 2015

Nightmare in Bandipur - Part 1 : Death of the Zuiko 300mm f 2.8

January 2015

Some times we take many things for granted. Our family, our colleagues, our cars, our gadgets and many more things we use or own.

My photography gear is one such thing that I've gotten used to taking for granted. As the collection of camera bodies and lenses grew, my travels reached a stage where there would be one bag of clothes and three of gear! One of these bags with gear had my E3 body mated to the Zuiko 300mm f 2.8 with a 2x TC. I rarely split the three because my E-M5 would take care of all other requirements. It was about then that I had got my E-M1 and this trip was supposed to be a shoot out between the two Micro Four-third bodies. I had sort of retired the E3 and mounted the  300mm f2.8 on the E-M1.

In January of 2015, we went back to Bandipur for the umpteenth time. After checking in I walked around looking for birds in the resort's trees. I got this one, and never knew that it was the last few pictures I would shoot with my beloved Zuiko 300mm f 2.8.

The evening safari wasn't very eventful in terms of sighting but it was just as well that it happened to be that way. I never knew it would turn out to be safari I wanted to forget, (and so the delay in this post). A family of sambar deer passed us by.

A grey jungle fowl was scratching in the dust just ahead of us. He looked majestic in the evening sun.

The E-M1 was sitting on my lap under a shemagh. It was a dusty day and I wasn't keen on getting my gear more dirtier than necessary. The forest department had been working the fire lines and the track sides were charred. Chital were moving as the sun sank low on the horizon.

I was thinking that everything was brown or black. It wasn't summer yet but it looked like summer. Then I felt something give. The camera on my lap fell off from the lens. For a moment I was shocked. How could I have been so stupid to not have mounted the lens properly? I lifted the shemagh off to see what had happened, and then I froze in horror.

For a few moments, I was too shocked for words and then realization dawned. My best lens was in two pieces on my lap. The mounting ring had split in two. The main part of the lens had fallen off on one side and the mounting ring was still attached to the camera body!

The rest of that safari is a very vague memory. I wasn't interested any more. It was a photographer's nightmare! The Zuiko 300mm f 2.8 was my best lens and it was dead for all practical purposes. None of the lens elements were broken but the AF wiring was torn off. No communication was possible between the camera body and the lens; not even manual focussing was possible.

I returned to the resort a broken man. I was too numb and dinner went down like a lump of tasteless clay! What you see here are the last few pictures I clicked with my favourite lens.

I was not sure if I would find a solution or even a new lens. Olympus has discontinued the Four-thirds series so new lenses they were releasing were only for the Micro Four-third bodies. The rest of my Bandipur trip was something I want to forget!

Oh! Before I forget, the leopards saved my trip! That is in the next post of this series.......!

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