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Archive 2009 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter
  
 
jcolwell
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p.1 #1 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


I just finished doing a test to compare what happens when you hit the bare front element of a lens with a paintball, with what happens when you hit it while it's wearing a UV filter. This landmark experiment was inspired by past discussions on FM, and in particular by Herb Chong's suggestion near the bottom of the first link below:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/733298
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic2/460145
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic2/459673

Lens: Vivitar Series 1 35-85/2.8 VF VMC, made by Kino, M42 mount.

note: this is a parts-only lens that I bought for its clean front element, which I swapped for the scratched front element on an otherwise Mint condition version of the same lens (since sold).

Filter: Tiffen 72mm Haze-1 U.S.A.

Marker: Autococker with pump kit and J&J ceramic barrel.

Paintball: winter formula, orange paint.

Shooter: my son Trevor, member of a competitive paintball team with professional sponsorship (i.e. he's a good shot).

Setup: shooting from 25 feet; barrel velocity approx. 280 to 290 fps; lens mounted with M42 to Pentax K adapter on otherwise useless dead Pentax MX body, in turn mounted on 468MG head/055 GS tripod.

Results:

(1) Bare lens: three direct hits on the bare front element of the lens did no damage at all, except to turn the white lettering on the lens face into orange lettering.

(2) Filter in front of lens: one hit on the filter blew a hole right through it and caused significant damage to the front element of the lens beneath it.

Observations: these paintballs were hitting very hard - two near-miss hits went right through the cloth covering the 468MG tripod head; paintball splatter covered the adjacent white wall of the house to a height of about 10 feet (recently cleaned to a height of about 8 feet - stupid splatter!).

Verdict: next time I shoot a paintball tournament, I will not use filters on my 24-70L, 70-200/2.8L IS and 300/4L IS lenses (which is the same as the last two times I shot paintball tournaments).

Learning: next time I do a paintball test, it won't be so close to the white side of my house (thank goodness she wasn't at home).

For what it's worth.

Jim

Attached photos:

1. before, you can just see the original scratch at about 9:30 o'clock
2. after, all of the white stuff is pitting and chips, many are worse than they look
3. after closeup, original scratch runs on LHS between .8 and Auto.


















Mar 01, 2009 at 09:11 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #2 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


More attached photos:

4. the setup
5. the shooter
6. the second and third hits


















Mar 01, 2009 at 09:12 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #3 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Last attached photos:

7. cleaned up after the three direct hits
8. one hit with the filter on
9. wall of the house (stupid splatter!)


















Mar 01, 2009 at 09:12 PM
Daniel Heineck
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p.1 #4 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Am I allowed to find this post absolutely hilarious?

Thanks for the thought experiment. Hope the wall washed off well.



Mar 01, 2009 at 11:06 PM
Coolkid
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p.1 #5 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Just a thought from a paintball player. Double check the lens for small marks left from the shell of the paintball. I have take direct hits to my mask (gotta learn to keep my head down) and it all looked fine until I looked with just the right light angle and I could see a "ring" that was left behind by the impact. While I doubt this would happen on the glass surface of the lens, it is worth a check.

PS, that why we test shoot against our old shed, no cleanup issues



Mar 01, 2009 at 11:35 PM
bacilonur
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p.1 #6 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Brilliant. Thanks for the detailed post!


Mar 02, 2009 at 05:35 AM
Badtz
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p.1 #7 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


well my suspicion is confirmed, but I know the filter no filter argument will never end. Thanks for the sacrificial lamb!


Mar 02, 2009 at 06:11 AM
Todd Warnke
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p.1 #8 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


!


Mar 02, 2009 at 03:10 PM
David Massengi
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p.1 #9 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


I wonder what the results would be against the latest L lenses? Anyone willing to test that out


Mar 02, 2009 at 03:21 PM
sjms
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p.1 #10 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


jcolwell wrote:
I just finished doing a test to compare what happens when you hit the bare front element of a lens with a paintball, with what happens when you hit it while it's wearing a UV filter. This landmark experiment was inspired by past discussions on FM, and in particular by Herb Chong's suggestion near the bottom of the first link below:

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/733298
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic2/460145
http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic2/459673

Lens: Vivitar Series 1 35-85/2.8 VF VMC, made by Kino, M42 mount.

note: this is a parts-only lens that I bought for its clean front element, which I swapped for the scratched front element on an otherwise Mint condition version of
...Show more

try a good square filter holder with a cr39 clear filter like a Lee or even a cokin next time.

thats a common sense approach



Mar 02, 2009 at 03:34 PM
 

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CKrueger
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p.1 #11 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Well, if you're shooting paintball, the square filters probably aren't portable enough for the job. But it would be interesting to see if there's a difference in impact resistance between filter brands.

Also, if you're using a hood, chances are anything that can shatter a glass filter will also destroy the hood. So you better not use those, either.

Finally, if the paintball can break glass, I wonder what it will do to those little plastic buttons and switches on your lenses, or any number of parts on your camera body?

Seems like the amount of force that your paintball gun imparts could destroy a lot of things, not just that filter. If not the direct impact, the paint being pushed into weather-sealed bits at high speed could, too. (Canon's weather sealing won't stand up to a faucet, so I wouldn't expect it to stand up to a paintball!)



Mar 02, 2009 at 09:17 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #12 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


When shooting paintball tournaments, I have the body covered with an OpTech soft pouch body cover, with the end of the lens cover cut off, so the big lens protrudes, and the back of the cover cut in way of the finder. The body of the lens is covered with a layer of relatively thick, clear sheet plastic, and the hood is on to protect from flare and impacts (the lens caps come off at the start of a shoot). I usually have three bodies 2x1DII & 5D with 24-70L, 70-200/2.8L IS and 300/4L IS in action. The attached photo shows the 70-200/2.8L IS on 1DII.







Mar 02, 2009 at 09:38 PM
John Patrick
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p.1 #13 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Interesting, Jim. How well can you change focal length/zoom through the plastic?

John



Mar 02, 2009 at 10:21 PM
jcolwell
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p.1 #14 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Hi John. It's no problem. The plastic sleeve isn't stuck to the lens, the duct tape simply makes a tube by attaching the sheet plastic to itself, so the sleeve turns freely around the lens. You can even set the switches through the sleeve, but it takes a free thumbnail to change the small ones for focus range and Stabilizer Mode. The length of the sleeve is cut to just fit between the front of the camera body and the back of the hood, and you can slide the sleeve right off the lens if the hood is removed.

I use the same setup to shoot on the open deck of ships at sea in rough weather, for which I add an Op/Tech hood hat on a lanyard to cover the lens hood while I'm not actually shooting. The hood hat keeps salt spray and mist from getting on the front element, and it's easy to handle when you're wearing gloves.



Mar 02, 2009 at 11:09 PM
sjms
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p.1 #15 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


4x4 square resin filters are quite portable and a bit more resistant to high velocity impact


Mar 03, 2009 at 12:23 PM
DubiousDrewski
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p.1 #16 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Thanks for the hilarious test. This only supports my suspicion. I am very much against the use of UV filters for most situations.

Yes, it protects the glass from sticky dust and other debri, but it hurts your image quality (reduced contrast, increased flares) and as we've seen here, in the case of catastrophic impact, it actually exacerbates the damage.

What's terrible about this I sell cameras for a living. I only make commision on a camera if I sell a filter with the camera. So I am coerced to describe UV filters as having a positive effect on the photograph when I know they do not. I hate it!

A deep lens hood protects your lens and increases your image quality better than any UV filter can.



Mar 04, 2009 at 04:28 AM
runamuck
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p.1 #17 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Do paintballs come in different colors? My friend wants his house painted, and this seems a great way to get it painted for free.


Mar 04, 2009 at 04:58 AM
Bifurcator
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p.1 #18 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


Dubious Drewsk,

It supports my theory too! But mine was more like: Don't let crazy paint-ballers anywhere near my camera equipment without a substantial deposit!





Mar 04, 2009 at 05:53 AM
Mike V
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p.1 #19 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


As a couple of people have posted already, get some clear perspex (or lexan) cut to size from a plastics place.

Keep half a dozen in your bag, then when you need one, you peel off the protective paper and mount it to your lens.

Afterwards you can throw it away if you want.

They are really cheap, very tough, but scratch easily.










Mar 04, 2009 at 11:23 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #20 · Paintball vs. lens +/- filter


I shoot from a sea kayak with my camera+lens in a waterproof bag with an acrylic window, otherwise; there's no need for it.


Mar 04, 2009 at 11:46 AM
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