10.28.2019

Belinda helps to execute a durability test on the Panasonic Lumix S1 and a lens.


I've seen a lot of camera reviewers put a new camera and (weather resistant) lens under a shower of water, and one reviewer routinely pours water over camera+lens from his water bottle, but I don't see very many videos of people taking their own brand new cameras and dropping them from two or three feet in the air onto solid concrete or rugged rock terraces. Just generally not done. But we all hear about how "rugged" some cameras purport to be....

Now, Belinda and I did not do a dinner time "crash" test on purpose but I figured that since it happened I'd related the findings here. 

We were having delicious smoked ribs, and lots of healthy salads and such, at a photographer friend's home. It was a beautiful evening and this house has a wonderful terrace with a hand made picnic table and benches set on a rock-floored terrace. Of course I had my camera with me and I had used it a few minutes earlier to take a photo of my son, Ben, sitting at a second table nearby. I put the camera between Belinda and me on our bench and promptly forgot about it. 

A few minutes later Belinda got up to go in the house to get the beautiful chocolate cake which she baked from scratch for my birthday. As she stood up she dislodged the camera from its very tenuous and ill considered parking place and the camera spun off the bench and crashed down to the terrace smacking the uneven flag stones. And it bounced more than once. 

Which camera? Of course it was the newest one, the Panasonic Lumix S1, outfitted with the wonderful, little 45mm f2.8 Sigma L mount lens. Everyone looked at me. I don't know if they thought I was about to cry or if I was angry but ..... hey....it's just a camera. I picked it up, dusted it off and went back to the ongoing conversation. We can always replace a camera we have a harder time replacing wonderful events....

The point of impact seemed to have happened first to the metal lens hood which bent inwards a bit, and also had some paint and bit of the underlying aluminum scraped off. There's a tiny nick on the frame of the rear LCD but no other visible damage anywhere. I turned on the camera, clicked off a few frames and everything seemed to work just as before. Only now the camera gets radio signals, and the volume of the radio can't be mitigated by any control I can find. I wouldn't normally mind but the camera only seems to play country and western music (which I mostly hate with a white hot passion === excluding Bob Wills...) so I am a bit chagrined. 

Just kidding about the radio play (not kidding about my distaste for country music, especially current country music...) but seriously, the camera seems to have survived a kinetic aerial ballet from about 2.5 feet in the air to a hard, scratchy surface. Now I just need to take that bend out of the lens hood. 

Oh! And I should mention that the camera makes nice photographs. I try to help.

The imputed point of initial impact, writ large.

21 comments:

Alan Fairley said...

Hey, Kirk, there is a possibility that the impact has put the lens mount off plane. I had a drop like that with my Nikon D800 + 24-70 zoom (quite a bit heavier combo) and that what Nikon said when they fixed it. Though if your post-drop pix look good I guess all is good.

Ray said...

I'm always glad to hear I'm not the only guy in the world that spills things. Sometimes large, expensive things. Make sure the lens is pointed in the right direction, all the controls do what they're supposed to do and carry on. Experiences and relationships are much more valuable than cameras.

Tom Judd said...

Maybe a bit unfair to name Belinda in the title, especially since she was
going to get your birthday cake!
Perhaps "We" would have been more accurate.
And Happy Birthday.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Tom, I hold her blameless. It would have been more embarrassing had this occurred when I was getting up to get a beer...

Rene said...

Thank goodness for metal lens hoods. I learned my lesson when I tripped on a set of steps I was running up to catch a shot and banged the front of the lens hood of my new Olympus 75mm against the steps as I fell. The lens hood was heavily dented and scratched, but the lens and camera were fine. And to think a couple a days before I was grumbling about the extra cost of the lens hood because Olympus didn't included one at the time.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Object lesson for all those dense people who walk around with their lens hood attached backwards on their lenses. Looks bad, doesn't protect lens. Don't do it.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Spent some quality time shooting test charts this morning to make sure the lens mount, camera, affected lens are all working as they should and haven't suffered any anti-parallelism as a result of our durability testing. All good here. Hearty camera. Rugged lens. Yay!

Ken Bennett said...

I still have a large dent in the metal lens hood on my Fuji 50-140. It doesn't have any effect so I just leave it. That said, I suspect plastic lens hoods are probably better for this sort of thing, as they absorb more impact, and even break, and avoid sending those forces to the camera.

MikeR said...

Agree on Bob Wills, and also the current state of country music. (disclosure: in the USAF, ca 1960s, I got nicknamed "Hillbilly from Philly" for the music I played on our (isolated) site AFRS station)

Unknown said...

Kt,
Takes a lick'in and keeps on tick'in. Still not as bad as denting/scratching a brand new, right off the showroom floor car. Ask me how i know.
Jb

Len said...

Hi Kirk, I have been commenting on here on and off for a while, usually using my name and URL choice. Yesterday I felt lazy and used my google account. And suddenly wholla my comment pops up. Wondering if any of my other comments were ever seen or read by you? I think I have been writing praise for your blog to thin air???

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Hi Len, I seem to recall reading few. You're not that guy from Des Moines who keeps writing to claim that I'm the photographic tool of Satan, are you?

Just kidding, but I'm pretty sure you can post in a number of ways and get through. But, just in case, can you find the 10 or so most complimentary about me and post them en mass? I'd love the dopamine hit....

Thanks, Kirk

Eric Rose said...

A heavy camera doesn't always equate to a tough camera, but I see in this case it just might. I dropped a Nikon F out of a moving car once while I was photographing an armed hostage taking. We were suddenly told to move the heck back as the situation had changed radically. I was barely in the car at the time so it was easy for me to jump out and retrieve the camera and then run like hell to catch up to the car. The camera and lens were just fine after their tumble. Not that I cared, they belonged to the newspaper. It's things like this that killed the Leica RF for PJ use once the Nikon F came out.

David B said...

I had a similar incident with a lens and a similar happy ending. I was sitting at a high-top table in the bar area at an upscale burger place (bare concrete floors and thick wooden plank table tops with heavy metal frames and absolutely nothing to muffle the noise). I had my Nikon D7100 with a 24-84mm full frame lens that weights 1 ¼ lbs.

The camera strap was over the shoulder and neck so that in hung at my side. While talking with friends I felt my camera move and lighten up just a split second before I heard the lens hit the concrete floor a good 36 inches or more below me.

My stomach immediately did a back flip as my mind just as quickly said don’t cry in front of your friends despite the fact that my every day lens (that I can’t afford to replace even with a less expensive DX model) crashed onto a concrete floor.

My wife and friends, knowing what my camera means to me, looked at me with as much shock and horror as I felt. I quickly slid off the high bar chair picked, up the lens, looked at it briefly, and put it back on the camera. I took a bunch of quick photos in auto mode and full manual and all seemed to be ok. I did a close inspection of the lens and didn’t see any cracks in the glass and no scratches or scuffs anywhere on the lens.

I remember that earlier that afternoon when putting the lends on the camera I had some trouble getting the mount to snap into the starting spot for rotating it in place, but that I had eventually managed to do it. Obviously I didn’t get it into place and the lens eventually lost the small grip it did have on the mount.

The plastic tulip lens hood was in the carry position backwards on the camera. Since it covers most of the length of the lens had has space between it and the lens I’m thinking it must have absorbed most of the impact resulting in saving the life of my lens for which I will be eternally grateful.

That was three summers ago and all is still well with the lens.

Wishing you and your lens the best and that your lens continues to perform well … at least until you switch camera systems again.

George said...

I've photographed a lot of street protests which sometimes involves brushing/banging cameras against walls and light poles. I used Pentax film SLRs and then Pentax DSLRs. Always two cameras with a wide prime on one and a medium telephoto prime on the other. I've dropped most of my cameras at least one time. With the two Pentax DSLRs - K7s - I dropped them both onto a concrete sidewalk while running along side protesters down the street in Washington DC. Picked them up and kept shooting. As with the film cameras I have never had to put one in the shop. Now I've switched to fujifilm gear - we'll see if they're as tough as the Pentax.

Robert Roaldi said...

A plastic hood might break in a fall like that, but that might be a good thing. A lot of the energy of the impact would go towards breaking plastic and not the rest of the camera. Not unlike crumple zones in modern cars. But I won't be doing any testing to prove this.

Now if the camera put a crack in the flagstone...

Anonymous said...

i"m not a fan of lens hoods, but ... !

John Krumm said...

When I taught middle school students using six Oly 520's, two things kept the cameras working, the always mounted lens hoods, and the large microfiber clothes I had them carry in case of rain (which it did often). Over several years of use I don't think a single camera failed.

With my K1, as sturdy as it is, I'm a little more worried about dropping it because of the increased mass. I've dropped it once from about car seat height to the driveway, lens hood on the Uber 50 DFA 1.4 (gasp). Had to look hard to find a scratch. Works just fine.

I think taking still open camera bags out of cars is a weak spot for me. Sometimes the straps are twisted and they flip the bag upside down, dumping the camera. Our first SLR was a loaner from a camera shop that my then girlfriend 9now wife) worked at in the late 80's. Pulled the bag from the car, it flipped, camera hit the ground, and we slowly paid it off, a large, overly electronic, eventually defunct Chinon with a zoom. It did take a couple great baby photos before its controls stopped working, so that's something.

Rufus said...

Last camera I totalled was a Sony A99.

It fell off the Sydney- Manley ferry into the ocean. I really liked that camera. My insurance refused to pay out.

Harsh I thought.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Trying to remember all the way back... but I don't think I've actually totaled a camera...yet. There's always time...

Richard N. said...

Hey Kirk,

Regarding Country Music: I might suggest you view the Ken Burns documentary on County Music that recently debuted on PBS. I'm not a CM fan myself, but found it fascinating and now have a healthy admiration of the genre. If nothing else, the series provides a deep dive into the history of American music which reflects the true nature of the culture that all Americans share.