This one didn’t make it: Nikon D3s get crashed by a Ford pickup truck

I had my D3s w/28-300 for 89 days. May 26, 2011 I had just finished taking pictures of a cropduster flying on rice seed, and backed my pickup up along the field road to a "T" where I could back in and pull forward. I placed the D3s on the seat next to me with the strap around a secure item to prevent it from falling on the floor. I had just begun driving forward and straightening onto the road (between a rice field and a drainage ditch) when my Ford F-150 (also about 90 days old, 5800 miles) suddenly "fell out from underneath me." While I am falling, I realized my pickup was rolling onto the driver side into the ditch. I watched as my D3s fell past me, out my open drivers window and into the mud. I was thinking, "oh shit, the cab is going to crush my camera!"

I landed upside down on a mud flat about 4 feet below the road, with just the camera strap showing from beneath the cab. I pulled the camera out, and as you can see, the lens was broken, All the windows on the camera had water in them, but the camera body only had some scratches on the prism. I pulled the battery, cleaned it as best I could, packed it in a bag with silica gel, and sent it to Nikon. It was back in a week: "not repairable."

The pickup was totaled. There had been an inch of rain the day before, and the ditchbank had sloughed off from the weight of my front left tire.

And of course, I have been unable to find a replacement D3s. Berger Bros (who I located through your website) anticipates having one for me soon.

The pictures of the pickup and my camera were taken with my backup Coolpix 5000.

Story and images provided by Mike Howard.

Another horror story from eBay about a different "damaged beyond repair" Nikon D3s and Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens:

I was taking low tide photos and was waiting for the sun to come out. The camera was on a tripod for 10 minutes when suddenly the sand under one leg of the tripod gave way and the tripod tipped over. The body, tripod and lens’s bayonet mount with one rear glass element went one way and the rest of the lens rolled into a shallow tide pool. The body splashed in very shallow water and I poured out 4 drops of salt water from the battery compartment. Water must have entered the body from other places besides the battery compartment. It did not appear to be damaged but Nikon repair shop said it was "Damaged Beyond Repair." The memory cards and battery were fine.

More Nikon equipment put ot the extreme? Check this picture of a frozen Nikon camera.

See also previously published horror stories.

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  • Wow, insurance?

    • north

      Only good for as long as you don’t make a claim. State Farm gave me a boot after making a claim on my lens and filter.

      • chris

        this is why for profit insurance is a joke.

    • ewww. sorry dude…


      • chris

        haha.. agreed… should have bought a decent car.

  • James Wright

    Tested to destruction

  • OUCH!

  • Zim

    I almost did the same thing a few months ago. I was inches away from going into a ditch like that after taking some pictures.

  • I work in photo retail and had a guy bring in a 55-200 VR DX yesterday that was on his lawn when his daughter backed over it in her car. Thing was dirty, but mechanically fine. I was STUNNED.

    • take some pictures next time

      • Mock Kenwell

        LOL. +1

  • Luis

    I hope there is a camera heaven.

    • enesunkie

      Maybe there is a D400 there? Well, I don’t want to find out too soon!

  • Hojo

    Since you specifically mentioned “89 days”, if by chance you had bought it with AMEX, you would have loss/breakage insurance, so they will replace it if damaged within the first 90 days, assumint they don’t have some “limit” exclusion. This has saved me before, so I thought I would pass it along.

  • D700guy

    Why would anyone buy/sell a lens that has been deemed damaged beyond repair?
    Just so that they can own a fucked up lens?? Help me understand.

    • Anonymus Maximus


    • Who’s suggesting anyone bought a damaged lens? The OP is talking about AmEx 90 purchase insurance, since the lens was less than 90 days old…

  • cirtap

    You can tell when someone is NOT a serious photographer…..28-300mm tons of distortion at every level.

    • You can someone is NOT a serious photographer ….. they blub on about lenses sucking on forums. Real photographers take photos, not cut equipment up on forums.

      • 1+

        • Matt_XVI

          + 2

          A serious and talented photographer can take awesome pics even with a Daguerreotype.

          • jose

            Agree, standard zoon lenses have enough sharp for take a very good pictures most of the time include in the extreme focal distance

          • chris

            than go out and take some picture and dont sit in front of your nikonrumors site all day : P

      • ZinhaEq

        I agree that you can make great photos with any lens, but why would someone need such a pro camera then? If he uses a practical lens, why no practical camera, like D700? No logic here.

        • If you’ve got the dosh for it, why not?

          Conversely, why would professionals who make money, use non-professional cameras?

          It’s a complicated world where not everyone fits every mould.

          • gluglich

            Oh, come on, now you’ll say every pro photographer uses shit things to produce stunning images…

            • No, but you don’t need to own a 1000$+ lens to take great photos. There are thousands of examples of this. And with cameras, too.

              If you want a camera that will click click click at massive speeds and autofocus for sports, you will need something fast like a D300-D3S, but apart from that, you can get on with a much cheaper camera and lens.

              Hell, for most photos that everyone takes nowadays, autofocus isn’t even necessary.

        • Sunny B

          He might have been on his light day trip setup than his real pro setup that could have brought up his real pro lens to match his D3s. Wake up man! Why do you assume he has only 28-300 in his arsenal? Huh!

        • Martijn

          ease of use and full control, thats why. thats why they need pro glass, they have more control over just about everything.

          not sharpness, but control to create

      • Can Wishingwell

        A serious photographer can always take advantage of the distortion for creative shots, while a un-seasoned photographer would only take un-distorted ‘grap shots’, and pixel peep to the max.

      • Jim Cutler


      • John

        Funny, I just bought the same lens and I love it. The crappiest lens out there is the one you don’t use…

    • I hate shooting with lenses with variable maximum aperture. I inevitably forget my aperture is changing as I’m shooting wide open and zooming in and out.

      • Gear only part of it

        If you knew what you were talking about you’d know it only changes when wide open. Yes it’s variable at all apertures but if you select F8 it stays at F8 through all focal lengths, the electronics control that. Try it, put your camera on manual (which I bet you tell everyone you always do anyway), choose an aperture available at all focal lengths and zoom. It won’t change.

    • fotojack

      Oh please! Give a break, will ya? What’s the point of this stupid remark? Get a life! Pro..non pro….gawd! Will it ever end!

    • Apooo

      Gotta love some people… you probably spend more time reading lens reviews than going out and shooting… and all of the sudden you’re an expert on who’s NOT a pro. Do you even own any equipment?

      The real pro’s are the ones who can work within limitations of their equipment and still get kick ass pictures.

      1 Rule… if the lens doesn’t shoot well “that way”… don’t shoot it “that way”.

      • Tim

        …and to think, the F-150 guy would never have broken his D3s had he just stayed home on the computer to catch up on yet another lens review. Instead, he’s out there getting hired to make photos w/equipment he knows how to use. hmmm….. 😉

        • Apooo


          hahahahahaha! 🙂

    • the


      Funny you say not a “serious photographer”. I guess this brings up the question then who is that lens for? non serious photographers? What is a photographer then?

      What a sad day when people are categorized by serious and not serious.

      So what type of car do you drive? do you have a multi million dollar home? Do you only eat filet mignon and caviar and wear a gold suit? I am sure your wife/husband is hot and you are independently wealthy too…

      I am just trying to figure out if you are a serious human being? Oh yeah and how do you like your digital hasselblad? I would assume that is the bare minimum of what you would own?

      Grow up!

      • It’s possible that you misread my comment. Turn it upside down or backwards, or whatever you want, then re-read it. I think you’ll probably make more sense of it then.

    • Edit Reject

      Jay Maisel’s everyday lens is the 28-300. Do you want to tell him to his face that he is not a serious photographer? Putz.

      • geoff

        “Distortion is very pronounced at almost any focal length, vignetting is somewhat on the high side, too, which is also true for CAs. Sharpness in the image center is good, but not great, especially towards the long end, and border and corners can be very soft at many focal length and aperture settings. So, optically, the lens does not really convince.” (Photozone)

        Everyone’s got their standards.

        • Tim

          But keep in mind that a person’s choice of equipment “Standard” for a particular job can fluctuate, basing his decision on limitations or need.

          There are actually times when using that 28-300 can be a wise choice – when swapping lenses isn’t possible or means missing a critical shot, and if the image quality still far exceeds the max. quality and size of the final output. Go for it.

          • fred

            Yeah, you never know when you’ll have to go from a distant mountain ridge to a wide group shot in seconds. Just imagine how many shots Robert Capa missed because he didn’t have a superzoom! I’d gladly sacrifice every kind of image quality to not end up like poor Cartier-Bresson with his measly primes.

    • chris

      getty images, the #1 photo agency in the world purchases a d3s and 28-300 for all of their staff editorial photographers. 90% of the photos you see from big awards shows and other red carpet events in magazines and newspapers have been taken on this combo. where have you been published?

  • yrsued

    This is not putting Nikon gear to an extreme, this is an accident!!

    Now THIS IS putting Nikon Gear to an EXTREME.

    I’m not even going to get into Matt Kartozian now, he ruins one or two bodies a year not to mention lenses

  • Merv

    “I watched as my D3s fell past me, out my open drivers window and into the mud. I was thinking, “oh shit, the cab is going to crush my camera!””

    Awww, thought about the D3s first before the truck and himself

    • KsOfW

      My first thought, too.

    • Bphoto

      I was shooting a wedding that I was part of back in May. I was finishing up taking some shots of the couple driving off, sprinted across a parking lot in tux shoes (with no grip to the sole) to jump into my buddy’s jeep when as he started to back up. I made a quick course correction only to find out that such a correction is not possible in formal dress shoes. As I hit the pavement on my 28-700 attached to a D300 with sb900, all I could think of was “please, let me have tucked the camera well.” Turns out I didn’t…sb900 parts strew across fresh blacktop, lens barely focuses in manual and I had to tape the pop-up flash down on the body.

      The worst part of the whole experience…having an 8.5 month pregnant women come running across the parking lot (she though my friend hit me with the jeep) to see if I was ok. The best part, shooting the rest of the night with a flash that I had to hold together with my hand in order to make it work and a bruise that took 2 weeks to finally go away.

      • Bphoto

        *28-70 was the lens though I’d buy a 28-700

  • ZinhaEq

    Oh well, IMO the D3S was actually saved by its death. Can you even imagine how sad can it be for such professional camera to be tortured by mediocre lens like 28-300mm? If I had been be that camera I would have done suicide by the end of the first day…

    • Again, WTF? Who cares what is attached? The 28-300 is a GREAT lens that does a lot more than a lot of other lenses. Great range, sharpness, and autofocus speed. A great camera doesn’t need, by default, to be attached to anything but what fits to its mount.

      What is with all the bleeding ostracism here?

      • gluglich

        I guess you don’t get his sarcasm… Or is you the one is being sarcastic? lol

        • I probably didn’t get that. Seems this thread is full of “didn’t gets”.

      • I double that. Even me, the most angry hater of zoom lenses, agrees with that 28-300 is a very good lens.

        • Nathan

          I too agree. The only other zoom lens I ever owned was a Nikon 75-150 that I bought back in the 1980’s. The 28-300 was the only zoom lens I actually purchased even though the 14-24, 80-200 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8 caught my eye more than once. On one hand I’m really happy I purchased it because it’s a killer lens for parties as it’s as sharp as a tack, but I’ve found that I mainly use 28-70 so a 24-70 would have been better for that.

  • Mike

    I had a 50 1.4 G, 24 1.4, & 16-35 fall out if my bag recently. All had hoods on and struck there first. The 50 had to be sent in for repair as there was a black piece of something sitting in the middle of the element. The 16-35 is a little stiff to zoom, but is fine otherwise, and the 24 1.4 is a tank. Nothing happened to it (confirmed my Nikon). Expensive for a reason I suppose!

  • what really left me surprised about this story is that the author was worried for his camera and not for himself…
    comments on lens and related ability of the photographer sucks. Do you tell one is a good photographer by the lens/camera he/she owns?

  • Steve

    Obviously, your Nikon was defective as it should have easily absorbed the impact of your truck! I think we are all impressed by the robustness of Nikon’s, although in this particular instance, it unfortunately failed. Sorry for your loss, hopefully you’ll be able to get a replacement sooner than later.

  • Joe

    Admin, how dare you post such a graphic photo without a NSFW warning! Kidding, of course. Gonna go hug my D700 (not kidding).

    • Trevor


  • The invisible man.

    I have seizures, I hope someone will be there to take a picture the day I will fail with $5000 Nikon camera/lens in my hands !

    (I use the Lowepro slingshoot bag to reduce the time I have the camera out the bag, that saved my once when I had a seizure on top of the St Augustine’s lighthouse)


    • LOLWhat? Several weeks ago you have told that no photographer to capture an Invisible Man even with camera able to produce images at 512 000 ISO! 😀

      • Iris Chrome

        No you misunderstood. Of course you can’t take a photo of the invisible man but what he meant is that you take a picture of his camera when it falls off of his hand and thus becoming visible since it wouldn’t be connected to him :p

    • Damn, a seizure on top of the St. Augustine lighthouse? I live in Jacksonville, St. Augustine is in our metro area. We’re there all the time. Wonderful place.

      Where do you reside?

      • The invisible man.

        Jax also

      • The invisible man.

        Are you the guy who bought one of my Test Chart and said it’s a piece of crap ?

        (I sold thousands TC in more than 50 countries all around the world and the only guy that did not like it is from my own city !)


        • MRPhotoau

          ROFL, help can’t get up, getting hysterical, ahhhhhhh, slap me please!!!!!!!!!!!

          I think I have one of those TC’s very good, do quick test on all my lenses with it so I know these quirks and can then shoot knowing what I’ll get. Edge sharpness, optimum aperture etc. I was very happy with the purchase.

        • I’ve never bought any test charts….lol. So, you’re in Jax eh? I thought you were French? Lol. Either way, nice to see a fellow Jacksonvillian on here.

          • The invisible man.

            I sent (I think) an email at your “website ?”
            We also go often at St Augustine, here is my phone : 721 0285

    • patrick

      see any ghosts while you were there?

      • The invisible man.

        I did, but after awhile when I had all my mind, I found out it was just the 2 firefighters who took me down from the top of the lighthouse.

  • Tony

    There is nothing about camera being in the ditch in the selling post.
    That’s ebay for you. 🙂

  • ford f 150, nikon d3s and 24-70 f.2.8 in the ditch . priceless

    • And that too all being less than 3 months old! Poor guy !

  • By the fate’s irony today’s commercial photosession brought my tripod to death. A lock broke up and the leg fell off.

  • Kab

    The D3s, 28-300mm and your truck can be replaced. Your life, never. Be thankful you came out of that peril unscathed to write about it.

    • Bryan

      I don’t know about that. With the advances in cloning he might have a better chance of getting his life replaced than a D3s at this point 😉

      • Kab

        I suppose. However, I can guarantee you that it’ll probably cost the combined value of the camera, lens and truck to just regrow a hair. 😉

  • Good stuff – loved the hot rod blog linked in the comments as well. The race track is just one cool place to get shots – I prefer to go some place a little warmer. I haven’t totally trashed a camera, yet doing these live burn training photos, but I am starting to believe it certainly has cut the overall life expectancy of them down significantly.

  • Brock Kentwell

    (1) Clean camera with damp cloth, (2) register new ebay account, (3) list item in BGN condition, (4) profit.

    • Kab

      Ken Rockwell is making these kind of suggestions! Unbelievable! Lol

  • broxibear

    After announcing last month that they were opening its first overseas glass furnace, Hoya have now decided to open a second plant in Singapore.
    “Glassmaker Hoya said on Friday it will open a factory in Singapore, the latest move by a Japanese manufacturer to diversify risk away from the country after the March 11 quake and tsunami reduced power generating capacity.
    Economists and politicians have expressed concern that unreliable power supply could the prompt country’s manufacturers to move overseas.”
    Kirin Brewery Co. will resume operations at its Sendai plant on Sept 26th, Kirin and with Nikon were the two biggest employers in Sendai before the earthquake.

  • ray

    NOW YOU CAN GET SOME REAL GRAR Canon gear better glass better body better image better everything

    and thats a fact
    canon = color real color

    • fred

      Sorry you bought a Canon, but complaining won’t make it better.

  • Netpeer

    Killed by a ford (found on the road dead?)..Wow that’s a shame.

  • Just me

    So while your 20k+ truck is rolling over you’re concerned with the $1k camera and not with, oh, maybe breaking your neck or something? Seriously, the o/s moment should not have been about the camera and if it was, you need serious professional help for your photoholism. 🙂

    • Ronan

      If you can find Nikon D3s at 1k please do tell me where.

      Same for the 20k F150.

  • Nikon-Addict-&-Rumor

    I need my medicine (rumors).

  • NA

    Reading this makes me feel a little better – cause I dropped my M6 in the sea today…

  • Jim

    My D200 fell out of a camera bag about 4 days into a 2 week tour of Ecuador. The bag (backpack) was something I had recently bought specifically for the trip. The bottom compartment was for photo equipment and rather shallow, the top compartment could be used for photo stuff or for clothes, etc. There was a zipper separating the two compartments and I left it unzipped. It wasn’t much of a fall, it landed on the back of the camera. I picked it up and it worked fine, it worked the entire trip including in fog an mist so thick you could cut it with a knife. I’ve used and abused it a lot since then but I am looking forward to the next Nikon cameras.

  • Mark

    Glad to hear you were all right. As for the picts of the locus-in-quo, these picts are very disturbing. I believe Admin ought to put warning flags on these stories to warn of the gruesome sights that await readers in the way news stories warn of these things.

    I’m heading under a blanket in a corner until the shaking stops.

  • had a camera on a tripod went to move a branch out of the way and there went the camera the lens had the shade on backwards which probably saved the lens it only cracked the body cost me 335 bucks to fix i was leaving on a trip in about 3 weeks so i got another body live and learn

  • Luis Gonzalez

    My AMEX has accident/theft/damage protection on anything I buy on it for 90 days. That D3s would JUST have been covered by that.

  • fxed

    Genius, let this be a lesson that you should not be on your cell phone bragging to your bro’s how cool you look in the Ford with your trusty D3s next to you. And wear a mask next time you get Agent Orange sprayed on you. And, and what sissy mary color is that truck? Light blue mist?

  • rsdl17

    the 28-300mm and the 24-70mm will do nice on my desk as coffee mugs and the the d3s as my ashtray hahahahaha!

  • Oh well, there is always film;)

  • bobby_butte

    a lot of you guys care way too much about maligning lenses/photographers or defending maligned lenses/photographers.

    btw, must be a slow rumor day.

  • Ouch!

  • Tim

    Funny the relationship between photographer and equipment.
    How many of us, when falling, have instinctively sacrificed our own well-being by tucking the camera in and placing our body between the camera and floor?

  • That was punishment for strapping a 28-300 on a D3s. 😉

  • Apooo

    Please keep your arms in and remain seated until the ride has come to a complete stop.
    Thanks for riding F-150 Rollover!

  • Brian Davis

    Still dont understand why he wrecked the truck. Could he just not drive or what? And that lens on a D3s? What an idiot.

  • This is one of those instances when a “Recommend” button would fit better instead of “Like”… Hope the guy finds a replacement soon enough.

  • Alan

    Not surprised the 28-300 would snap in two with the weight/leverage of a pick-up truck falling on it, but it’s more worrying that a 24-70 would break off from the bayonet flange just from the weight of camera/tripod toppling over onto sand.

  • Anthony Papagallo

    The F-150 is a gay truck. You should’a been in a Ram then your Nikon would have been fine. Lesson learnt.

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