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cdrinkh20 02-05-2013 10:53 PM

Paintball Photos?
Hey guys,

I know many of you use GoPros and things like that....but I was fortunate enough to get a Canon Rebel t4i for Christmas, and it takes AWESOME photos (to a photo noob).

I've never been able to get any action shots of me or my buddies, but I was wondering what other people do as precautions to protect their special and expensive (photography...!) equipment.

I picked up a clear lens filter for basic protection taking normal photos...but surely I would have to go to a ridiculous and expensive effort to protect a DSLR from paintball impact?


Mike Deep 02-05-2013 11:51 PM

Couple things to keep in mind here.

First thing is that filters won't stop paintballs, and will in fact make a lens hit worse. A filter is simply a ~1mm pane of glass and offers no impact protection of any value. When one breaks, the shards of glass get forced against the lens and will almost certainly scratch it. Clean-up becomes an extremely delicate operation, as you've now got paint laden with glass all over your lens.

Why do so many still use filters then? Shooting paintball is dirty business. Dust, dirt, paint, rain and god knows what else will find their way onto the lens. Rather than grind these things into the lens when you go to clean it, you have a $50 filter that can take the hit on those repeated cleanings.

Second is that your camera body is tougher than you think. The shell will not crack if it gets hit. The only things to be wary of are liquid intrusion and direct hits on displays. In your case, the Rebel only has a rear LCD, and the odds of that being exposed to a hit are low. Liquid paint intrusion is a concern around controls and the lens mount. The force of a hit can drive paint into the body.

Solutions here vary considerably. Some folks fashion neoprene covers, others use plastic bags or rain covers. A few use nothing, but are usually using weather sealed bodies. Camera Armor sometimes comes up here, but doesn't really offer complete protection against liquid paint.

I like to use a Kata rain cover with a small modification. I have a page detailing how it works here. The cover essentially forms a little bubble protecting the camera and my hands. This is a field tested solution that I've been using for years.

The most important thing you can do, though, is avoid situations that send paint your way. If you pay attention to the game, you can stay ahead of the action and avoid the lanes of fire.

cdrinkh20 02-06-2013 12:10 AM

Wow, a very quick and insightful post! Thanks!

I didn't think a filter would stop an impact, but had it mostly for reasons you stated, even outside of paintball. It sounds like if you plan on shooting photos you should be prepared in advance, and probably shouldn't just be like "Hey, I'm gonna bring my camera out into the middle of the next game." I think I'd be nervous about it no matter what I did, having never owned a DSLR and not wanting to wreck it :P

Another thought: telephoto lenses are probably the preference so you aren't "giving players away", right?

Mike Deep 02-06-2013 01:21 AM

Telephoto lenses are usually a preference because you can't frame close enough without them.

On a typical airball field, the instances where you'd actually be giving players away are pretty few and far between. Everyone hits a primary bunker off the break and stays there. Once they start leaving those positions, I stay off them unless a) they start shooting at someone, b) someone starts shooting at them, or c) a coach calls their position. One of those usually happens. It's pretty much just common sense, don't point at anyone being sneaky.

cdrinkh20 02-06-2013 09:41 AM

Ah, that's where I'm more concerned about the camera being hit....I rarely hop on to airball fields. In the bush, people get a little jumpy and trigger happy sometimes :|

JLuke 02-06-2013 12:04 PM

I have the rubber armor, don't waste your time with it, it may seal up a few spots from a direct hit, but theres still way too many open areas to work well, After seeing this, i think i'm going to buy one of those karta covers, looks like that will pretty much eliminate my worries of my camera getting hit, i dont care if i get hit or not.

That's another thing, you need to make it known to the other players to play as if you arent there, i've had people bitch that i was in the way because i was behind the guy he is shooting at but still in his lane. You need to be the person worrying about where the paint is flying, not the player.

Arson24 02-06-2013 01:06 PM

a small tip for protecting the body of your telephoto lens
is to get the wrist sweat bands and placing it on the zoom and focus rings
it will stop paint from getting in between the rings on the lens, which is a PINTA to clean

you can pick up a pack of Op-tech rain covers for about $10-15
they are really simple and provide pretty good coverage

Mike Deep 02-06-2013 03:10 PM


Originally Posted by cdrinkh20 (Post 2616222)
Ah, that's where I'm more concerned about the camera being hit....

You are much more likely to get shot at if you're shooting woodsball. Airball keeps you confined to the sidelines, where most players understand you're not a player yourself. Woodsball places you right in the middle of things, and people will shoot at you even when you think you've made yourself obvious.

For woods and scenarios, I'll wear a yellow Proto Axis. I'll usually combine that with a brightly colored shirt, and I have a reflective orange vest with "PHOTO" written across the back so that I'm not mistaken for a referee. Even with all of that, I've taken a lot of fire at the scenarios I've attended. Sometimes there isn't enough of you showing for people to tell, and they'll keep shooting at you until you signal them. It's also much easier to get caught in crossfire.

Not giving players away is obviously a bigger concern in the woods. The same rule still applies with regards to fire. If they're taking it or dealing it, they're fair game. But if they haven't been seen, I'll keep my distance and act like I don't see them. If they're on the move, I'll stay off to the side, keeping pace, but not aiming the camera or even looking their way.

Falcon16 02-06-2013 04:39 PM

Personally when I go and shoot games I'm usually shooting airball as shooting woodsball is a nightmare. The way our local field is setup I can sit right on the top of the bleachers and if I stand on the top one or second from the top (being careful of course) I can actually be standing over top of the netting shooting down into the field. If I do this with my 70-210 I find it's perfect. I can get tight framed shots of the action without placing myself or my camera in the direct line of fire from anywhere.

DocsMachine 02-06-2013 06:42 PM

You're supposed to protect these things? :D

(For those playing at home, that's a $2,200 lens on a $4,000 digital body. :D )


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