11 camera epic fails while traveling and their lessons

by Ale Werner

We ask some travel bloggers about their funniest and saddest stories that relate to camera epic fails while traveling and this is what we got:

Camera epic fail 1: Drone crashing, again and again…

By Universo Viajero

Ok… so the reason we decide to do this Collaboration with other travelers was that, of course, we crash our own drone. The funny part is that we did it no just one time, but two at almost the same time.

We have always talked about how much we like skiing, both of us had done it since we remember. One of the down parts of this sport is that there is so difficult to see yourself doing it and of course, having a drone was the perfect solution to that!

We were on top of a big mountain and take the drone out. First was me, Ale, I start the descending and Jona was filming me. Once I was down there I made the “intelligent” decision of putting the drone on a position that could film his own line and just put the remote control inside the bag. He started the drop down and, bad luck, something inside the bag push the “down” button and the drone start going down…

When I realize the situation, it was too late and the drone crashed into the snow still turned on. It stayed like that for a couple of minutes until we could stop it, dry it and had the, again “so intelligent” idea of flying it again so it could “dry” with the air… Jona started flying it at maximum speed and, of course, crashed it one more time against the snow, this time really fast. Lately, in the technical service, they told us that the worst idea was turning it on again immediately because the water and the energy shorted all the interior of the drone. A camera epic fails to remember…

Camera epic fail 2: No SD card and a Japanese warning.

By Marthas Vineyard Tourist

I am religious about uploading my photos from my digital camera every night onto my laptop so that I can check out the photos on a bigger screen than that of the camera. When I am working if I don’t like the shot on the bigger screen, I may still have an opportunity to retake the photo or something similar if I am working to a shot list. 

I will never forget though the time that I was too tired to set up the camera for the next day. For example, I always have batteries on charge and an extra SD card in my bag.  And, most importantly, I always return the SD card back into the camera from the laptop. That is until the night I forgot to put the SD card back. 

The only thing about a good habit? Deviating from it will throw your plans into chaos!

So the next day I’m happily snapping away not realizing the issue. And, I had no idea if there was a warning message because I had accidentally set the language on the menu in the camera to Japanese while fiddling with it the night before. I hadn’t had the energy to look online at the camera’s manual to change it back. Possibly I may have had a glass or two the night before which may explain this mishap. You can imagine my dismay when I went to download that day’s photos!

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Camera epic fail 3: A waterproof bag full of water.

By Becky the Traveller

My epic camera fail was two months into my six months trip, not a great time to break your camera!

It had survived freezing temperatures on my Mt Kilimanjaro climb but would it survive a trip down the river!

In Laos, you can go tubing, stopping off at the odd riverside bar or two! My camera was floating along a waterproof camera bag, taking the odd photo here and there! Three hours later, I arrived at the ‘get out’ point of the river. Picking up my camera I noticed the waterproof bag was now full of water, disaster!

After two days, the memory card dried out and miraculously all the photos survived. But the camera was not turning on at all. 

My only option was to buy a new camera and carry the old one for the remainder of the trip so I could claim on the insurance when I got home. I tried the camera a few times after but nothing. Until the day I picked up the phone to the Insurance company. My exact words were, ‘it won’t even turn on’, as I pressed the on/off button and it switched on! Six months after its swim it had finally dried out and worked perfectly!

Camera epic fail 4: The worst moment for the camera to die

By Josie Wanders

Everyone dreams of that magical moment under the Northern Lights. And like every magical moment, we wanted to capture it. We were in Tromsø, Norway, and had booked a tour in the evening to chase the lights. 

During the day we explored the town. We got to the Polar Museum, and I was taking photos over the harbour. I went to hold the bottom down to auto-focus my fabulous, teeny, Sony RX100 mIV. Nothing happened. I tried the shutter, still nothing. I turned it off, planning to turn it back on again, but it wouldn’t turn on again! Oh no! 

In just a few hours I was seeing the Northern Lights, and I needed this camera. I knew my phone was not good enough to capture the lights. I made a beeline back to my hotel and spent the next two hours googling and trying every solution I came up with, but no go!

It was hard not to be disappointed, but luckily the tour I was booked on also included a professional photographer. I was at least able to get him to take a photo with me and the lights to have one photo to remember the night. 

Camera epic fail 5: Lost and found on Siem Reap.

By Singapore n Beyond

I was traveling in Cambodia with my wife from Siem Reap to Ratanakiri. The drive is about 7 hours with various transfers, from luxury minicars to dilapidating taxis. After about an hour into the journey and after the second transfer, I got some inspiration to take an image and said to my traveling companion, “Pass the camera”. She responded, “But you have the camera”. Cue carnage… epic fail.

We had to stop the full car in the middle of nowhere and try to explain to the driver, who could not speak a word of English, what was happening. Then, we finally got hold of the driver of the previous car, who thank goodness found our Canon 5D Mach II! We then waited on the side of the road for a tuk-tuk to pick us up and take us back to Siem Reap. Luckily the camera was safe. 

We waited another 3 hours before the next non-AC taxi arrived. It didn’t help that when we reached Stung Treng (after 4 hours) they tried to fit 12 people into a sedan, replacing the seats with bags. But that’s another story. Lesson learned: Never assume your partner has your items, always check together before leaving.

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Camera epic fail 6: Broken lens on a Fam Trip.

By Tara lets Anywhere

Recently I was invited to my first-ever press trip, a one-week tour during a festival in Zamboanga City in the Philippines. On the first day of this trip, my kit lens broke down!

I am using an Olympus E-OM10 Mark II which comes with a 14-42mm lens. I found out that this is a common issue with this lens, so there’s nothing to do but buy a new one or have it repaired. Luckily, I have an extra 40-150mm lens and a GoPro Hero 5, and these two saved my life!

My advice is this: Always have a backup lens or camera. The second is to make do with what you have! My extra lens is ideal for portraits, but with adjustments, I was able to take decent food and landscape photos with it. When neither camera nor GoPro did the job, I simply used the camera on my phone.

Camera epic fail 7: Forgot to record on a snorkeling excursion.

By Faramagan

There’s something magical about a GoPro camera – it inspires you to do crazy stuff just so you can use it. Whether it’s jumping out a plane, hiking over the Himalayas or in our case – snorkeling in Fiji. We booked the trip, watched all the film tutorials online, bought the underwater gadgets and off we went to Fiji – our new camera companion snug in our suitcase. Finally, the day arrived, we traveled via kayak out to the snorkel site, chucked on our masks and flippers then immersed ourselves in the underwater safari. I adapted to a new swim style as I flapped my GoPro around, capturing each fish, each giant clam and the stunning array of coral.

A few hours later, I practically skipped back to my hotel room excited to see my fishy footage. Except there was one problem. I’d forgot to hit record!! Epic fail! Needless to say a few more Youtube tutorials later, we did the entire snorkel excursion again – this time I knew how to work the camera!

Camera epic fail 8: Monkey business sometimes is stealing tourists cameras.

By The Sabbatical Guide

Monkeys are cute right? Wrong! We were at a rest camp in Kruger National Park, South Africa, minding our own business, looking forward to a lunch of boerewors and Mrs. Ball’s chutney we’d prepared earlier when disaster struck. A few feet behind me, I heard a yelp. My wife had been attacked. In a large game park in the wilds of Africa, this can often have less-than-favorable consequences, so I turned around to help (whilst secretly preparing to run!). Thankfully her attacker was small, but he’d caused some significant damage.

Our Panasonic TZ70 was in pieces on the floor, clearly mistaken by the furry assassin as something tasty to eat. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it is to never turn your back on a monkey, and – in Africa – it’s not always the big animals you should be wary of! Thankfully travel insurance, bailed us out, though we missed out on some great photos for the rest of the trip.

Camera epic fail 9: Forgot to check the camera before leaving home.

By Constant Traveller

Imagine this: You’ve flown from Mumbai to Lisbon over 16 hours on the first day of your two-month vacation in Portugal and Spain. You reach the seaside town of Lagos just in time to click a gorgeous sunset- the first of many pictures from your trusted DSLR that has traveled with you to over 15 countries at this point. You click and nothing. Try again and still nothing. Rising panic sets in and it’s only later that you realize that you hadn’t checked whether the camera was working in the first place when you left home. 

I showed the camera at the official service center (it was a Canon 500D) and even small-time hardware stores in an effort to fix it. Nada, nothing. Nobody could do anything – not within my time period anyway. 

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So I moped for a bit, turned my iPhone into my primary camera and learned that it’s a pretty amazing camera if you use it right. As backup, I was also carrying my GoPro Hero 5 for underwater shots but ended up using it frequently too. All the while, my DSLR and its 1.5 kg bag came with me everywhere – a mute spectator to the travels of Priyanko. 

Lesson learned – Check all your equipment before you leave for a trip.

Camera epic fail 10: Drone crashing into the sea.

By Our 3 kids vs the world

We purchased a new Parrot Bebop drone and were really excited for our upcoming trip to Langkawi and Koh Lanta and thought we would get some amazing footage over the islands. My husband gave it a few runs before we left so he knew how it operated. We took it away and popped it up first over our hotel the Meritus Pelangi Resort a beachfront resort in Langkawi. The footage was amazing and we were really excited at what else it could do.

We were heading out to Paradise 101, a man-made island for water sports and other fun activities. We were on the island for the whole day. Just before lunch, we decided to put the drone up and get some great footage. First, we went straight up over the island, then in front of the island over the water. Suddenly, the drone dropped out of the sky straight into the ocean. After a delayed reaction, we all run out diving under looking for the drone. It was later found by a scuba diver 80m offshore and returned to us that night… epic fail!

Camera epic fail 11: Drone crashing into the sea.

By Explore with Lora

Before leaving on my one year trip around the world I decided to invest in a DJI Mavic Pro Drone to help capture my journey. While in Panama, I brought my drone on a hike to a waterfall in the jungle. I was stood in front of the waterfall, envisioning a shot where the drone would come back from the falls, show me, and then the landscape of the jungle. However, this did not go as planned and my drone ended up crashing behind me in the jungle (I didn’t move it up quickly enough). Lucky for me, I could retrieve my drone and there was no damage done. This incident definitely taught me to be more careful where I use my drone, and practice more so I’m comfortable with the flying speed!  Here are some tips for new drone-users to avoid similar situations:

  • Practice using your drone as much as possible before taking it on a trip
  • Use your drone in areas with open space and few obstacles (aka not a jungle)
  • Be extra careful when filming shots from behind to ensure that there are no obstacles in the flight path.

Camera epic fail 12: Lost camera on a train through Europe.

By Chris Backe.

So we were on a train traveling to Austria. The train’s rather narrow, so we stacked our luggage in the hallway where there was a bit more room. We had our backpacks with us by our seats, but I made the epic fail of leaving the camera bag only loosely connected with the rest of the luggage…
When we arrived in Hallstatt, my Nikon D700 along with the 28-70mm lens was missing from my bag. The train staff were sympathetic but had no video cameras in the area and made an off-hand remark about this route not being as secure. Yeah, great to know now.
To be honest, I wasn’t even sure which country to file a report in and didn’t have a clue. I gave it up as lost, spent a week or two taking pictures (like the one here) with my iPhone, and bought another DSLR later on.
The lesson: don’t leave your camera bag in an area where you can’t see it.

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