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Fireproofing a Camera: Exposing 5DmkII body to fireworks.

MgarberMgarber Member
edited January 2012 in general photography
I thought this would be a fun topic for discussion and hopefully somebody can offer some advice gained from experience. I will be shooting photos and video at a local cultural festival in about 2 weeks where walls of bottle rockets will be shot directly at me and the crowd generally (google "yanshui fengpao").

I have my body armor taken care of, but for the camera I am thinking of wrapping the 5D mkII body in thick canvas, with holes cut for the lens, dials, and maybe the LCD. I will use the cheap Canon 50mm f1.8 because I expect whatever lens I use will be destroyed and that one is easy to replace.

I'd like suggestions on the following:
1. Can the internal microphone be permanently blown out by nearby explosions?
2. Can the smoke cause damage to any internal components?
3. Any tips for getting good exposure in street lights, smoke, and fireworks environment.
4. What picture style will give me the most flexibility to extract details later, if I can't shoot RAW?

Thanks guys!


  • ZenonZenon Member
    edited January 2012
    Well I have to give you top points because this is the most unusual thread I have ever read. I did not believe it until I saw this video.

    My advice would be the same if someone asked me how to protect a camera when running with the bulls in Spain. Get a cheap P&S. Throwaway is even better. Then again I would not run with the bulls nor would I subject my $4000 dollars worth camera gear to a barrage of fireworks. Hopefully someone else can help you out with protecting it.

    Good luck and thanks for the chuckle. And I mean that in a good way. Nothing wrong with trying out exciting things.

  • mvheystmvheyst Member
    edited January 2012
    It sounds like fun! Why do you need to use an expensive camera? Are you paid by National Geographic, or do you have all risk insurance on the camera ?

    Fireproof the 5DmkII body by leaving it at home...

    Once your done, please post your pictures of the shoot.

    You need to be careful and protect your eyes. I will consider standing up-wind (due to the smoke), using a telephoto lens (with filter) from a distance.
  • I'm shooting the photos and footage for a mini documentary that my friends and I are making about the event, as well as getting "color" for a report that may go on the website of a major newspaper. So I want to use the 5D2 for image and ISO performance, which comparatively "disposable" cameras don't have. Given that the body is metal, I think it should survive as long as I defend the sensitive areas (same goes for my own body).

    As you can see from the video, full face helmets are mandatory, as well as a towel around the neck to keep bottle rockets from needling their way in. Anyway, the more rockets that hit you, the more auspicious your year will be. And you won't get cholera (according to local lore).

  • Anybody have advice on covering multi-day/night outdoor events from a journalism perspective?
    The day is approaching and I will be heading to the south of Taiwan for what looks to be a 2 day shoot from Sunday to Monday. After safety considerations, my second biggest concern is handling file transfer and battery charging. I'm hoping to score a hotel room or home-stay in the immediate vicinity to use as a base.

    I'll be taking:
    1x 5Dmk2
    1x 60D + battery grip
    various lenses (the plastic fantastic 50mm is getting sacrificed to the fire gods)

    3x 16GB SanDisk Ultra CF cards.
    1x 32GB SanDisk Extreme CF card
    4x Canon camera batteries
    2x off-brand batteries that are near death
    2x Battery Chargers

    1x small laptop
    1x 500GB external HD

    1x 430exII flash
    1x tripod
  • Oh, and it's mostly going to be video
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2012
    Paid shoot? If so, camera backup! If not, then no risk if camera fails, as I see only 1 camera body listed.

    I would also check the power outlet prongs, if coming from US, try to check their [Taiwan] power outlet's prong configuration, voltage, and get an adapter to fit the end of your power leads for re-charging, make sure your charger adapter can rate from 110v to 240v if that's their voltage rate.

    When I buy gear from US [I am in Australia] I make sure to ask for Australian power configuration, if not available, I purchase a plug adapter as well.

    Just found this link re Taiwan power, apparently it's similar to North America, but the ground 'may' be different, also if your gear is 240V you also may need a Voltage Transformer to convert from 110 to 240v.

    Here: http://www.adaptelec.com/index.php?main_page=document_general_info&products_id=276

  • trev his backup camera is a 60d
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    edited February 2012

    Yep! Man, you look and don't see hey. You are right, I looked and missed the very first bit, just read + Battery Grip. Totally, for some reason did not even register the 60D at all.

    3 days ago, my reading/computer glasses broke, I have moved my monitor back as far as I can, and sitting back with arms outstretched, and all still not sharp, actually only had the test/order for new pair yesterday. Cannot wait, luckily I have fantastic long vision according to the optometrist, better than normal, go figure.

    Apologies to Mgarber... :)

  • Thanks guys! Taiwan power is the same as USA standard, and I live here and bought most of my stuff here anyway, so there's no conflict.

    It's not a paid shoot so it's not catastrophic if there's a camera failure (well, its catastrophic for me personally, but not for society at large).

    The event is in 2 days and I think we've failed to secure a hotel room in the vicinity, which means there will be no dedicated battery/card offload station nearby. So, we'll just have to go fully guerrilla style.

    The good news is I was able to learn a bit about using DSLR video to film fireworks from this blog: http://blog.jonahkessel.com/2012/01/29/a-dragons-tale/

    Unfortunately he says that DSLR video hates explosions (rolling shutter issue), but there's no going back now!
  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Good luck, and please do post how it went, link to final product if you get it.

  • Will do, and I'll describe what worked and what didn't so there will finally be some educational aspect to this thread.
  • Well, I survived, and in the end I decided to use no protective measures on my camera at all (apart from a UV filter). The 5D mkII, my Induro tripod, the 24-70 f2.8, and even the plastic fantastic 50mm f1.8 all came out completely unscathed.

    Sorry I only took video, so no photos to show.
    What didn't work: The rolling shutter. Flashes of light really threw off the shutter. I found that slowing the shutter to 1/30th of a second decreased the flickering, somewhat, but I never resolved the problem. I was also reluctant to slow the shutter that much because it means more worm-like motion blur.

    Also, sorry for the shaky cam. It was much more crowded than I anticipated, so I couldn't do much but hold my 5D mkII up on the tripod like a crane.

    This video was shot with the 50mm f1.8:

    And this was shot with the 24-70 f2.8:

  • TrevTrev Moderator
    Hey, I liked them.... regardless of movement which I thought added to the scene, chaotic, wild, fun, and I was the first to 'like'...

    Good job.

  • Thanks a lot! I'll post the finished video of the event after I figure out what to do with 50GB of footage.
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