Think Twice Before Taking Your DSLR To A "Color Run" Race

Think Twice Before Taking Your DSLR To A "Color Run" Race

I was just talking with a designer friend of mine who was planning to take some photos at an upcoming Color Run event. Early morning sunlight, vibrant colors, and smiling faces seems like a winning combination for some interesting images like these. However, in a recent article by Roger Cicala over at, he warns that you might want to consider the dangers of getting your gear covered in colored powder.

The Color Run is a 5K race in where the runners are blasted with colored dust at every kilometer.

Roger points out that the colored dust used in these races is made to stick to its participants... along with everything else. This means the dust doesn't simply come off with a blower. Have a look at some of these images below to see how bad it got for some of the rental lenses Roger had returned recently. Some of the lenses that were previously considered new, were now considered not worth repairing. Roger points out that this won't be covered by the damage waiver in the future. Read Roger's full take on the situation over at the LensRentals blog.




So all this being said, be careful if you're out there shooting any of these Color Run events! Use protection and keep your hardware in working order.

[via LensRentals]
Images used with permission.

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Todd Douglas's picture

Mike - I almost did this very thing a couple of weeks ago when we had a color run here in Mobile, AL. Thanks for the post and glad I didn't take the chance.

Also a good read on the LensRental blog and his quote "What the inside of the runner’s lungs look like." definitely makes you think twice!

I took my 5D into a color run with a 24-70 and it don't do bad at all. Sure I had to do a ton of cleaning and used a whole can of Canned Air but it's still working great and the lens didn't get any dust inside it. Here's a blog post about it. I insure all my gear otherwise I would never dream of doing this.

Todd Douglas's picture

Fantastic shots on your blog of the event but seeing your camera caked with powder like that is just plain scary/awesome.

Thanks Todd! Yeah, that shot of my cam is the stuff of nightmares. I had to really psych myself up to go in there.

Ha, a really good collection! I don't particularly baby my Mk III, in fact I knock it about quite a lot, but I think even I'd not dare take my gear into that battle!

Kudos for having the balls to do it!

Lol thanks man

Thomas Shue's picture

You insure your gear! Insurance should Never pay to replace a camera that was intentionally taken to a place that could ruin a camera.

"that could ruin the camera" - that's a pretty broad exclusion. But insurance companies like that kind of thing.

Know a good place?

Photos were awesome...Would love information on the insurance of the gear...thanks.

Thanks Kathy, glad you liked them! I'm with State Farm. It's a package they have for small businesses. $15K of equipment plus $300K of liability for $30/mo (for me, I got some discounts due to other accounts with them.)

What kind of insurance do you have, and how much did you pay for it? I'm not sure every insurance policy covers this kind of damage, as some companies might argue that this was 'intentional and avoidable, negligent' damage. My insurance agent told me to be careful in these situations - one thing is your gear being hit by a car in a crash, another is running over your camera in a tripod just to capture the scene.

You have a good point and I realize that this is a very extreme case. I'm going to double check with my agent to make sure this would be covered if I ever do chance it again which I don't think I will since it was such a pain to clean and was nerve-racking. When I signed but they made it pretty clear that just about any type of damage would be covered short of me intentionally doing the damage myself in order to make a claim, like running it over with a car. I know that rain was fine but that's easier to prove as an "act of God" than paint dust in the air. I'm with State Farm. It's a package they have for small businesses. $15K of equipment plus $300K of liability for $30/mo (for me, I got some discounts due to other accounts with them.)

I've shot a Holi festival & Color Run now, and haven't really had much cleaning work needed with my gear. D700/D800+primes (24mm/1.4, primarily). I always have my gear covered in gaffer tape, which I just replace as needed. Links: and

(one thing that sticks out to me is that photographers who seem to return with their gear *caked* in powder, i.e. the ones dead center in the action, don't typically come away with strong images. FWIW..)

If I were to do something like that I would definitely have my Outex cover on! So much easier to clean!! It was also super cool taking my camera underwater in mexico! =)

The Color Run is no different then Holi Week in India, except that Holi Week is about 1,000x bigger. The problem isn't so much as the dust for this guy, it's because it's a rental. If I rented gear I'm not going to cry over it like I would my personal gear (flat out honest), so yeah would I care about protecting it as much as long as it worked when I returned it? He's just crying about his business, which I get, but that's business. If he doesn't make customers acknowledge that if they cover sensors with dust (colored or not) that they are liable, he's just going to have to suck it up.

The guys who cover Holi Week in India, don't go running through the crowds with their cameras naked, shooting freely. They protect their gear first before even setting foot out the door during that week.

Case-n-Point, check out this photographers set-up and you can see he was prepared (owns his equipment and has a protected sleeve on it. Why because he gives a sh*t about his gear vs say a rented piece of gear! lol)

Pretty sure your ig... uh comments in the first paragraph got you all those thumbs down. BTW, if HE has to suck it up it means renting lenses gets a lot more expensive.

Surely this is just common sense? A clear plastic bag or two and a filter will go a long way to protecting your gear.

Why was he switching lenses, and why didn't he have filters?

Spy Black's picture

You at least need to vacuum that stuff. Canned air will just blow it further into your gear.

Nobody seems too concerned about breathing this stuff in. What's it made of? Who dreams up idiotic events like this anyway?


JOE DDD (Daniel Dalin Drechsler)'s picture

Not that i'd want to do this kind of gig.
But if I did I would buy a few large rubber bands, and the heavy duty zip lock freezer bags.
Then put camera and lens inside bag, use rubber bands around the tip of lens and bag to hold bag flat against lens then add a few sylica packs for moisture just in case and seal bag.

I would only take a dive camera to an event like this, put it in a bucket of water after and wash it off.

Get something like the Dicapack, should do the trick

"should" doesn't convince me

Wow, took you a while to reply to that :) I used a dicapack for some pool videography, worked great. If you test it properly before every use you'll be OK. (I'm not affiliated with dicapack in any way)

Thank you for your polite sarcasm ;-). The only problem is that most underwater photography is shot with wide angles or very short lenses so they don't make one that fits a telephoto zoom. I guess I could cut the end of the lens tube out and modify it from there.

I wasn't trying to be sarcastic, sorry you got that impression. You're right, personally I only used the case to shoot wide. That was my intention so I got the WP-s5, which has a shorter barrel. There's a larger model that can hold some moderate zooms I think, look it up. They have all the specs online. Operating the lens with precision takes a bit of practice though.

Also dust is easier to block out than water, and if a few particles do make it in the case nothing's gonna happen. So I think you can modify the case if you have to and not be too afraid about it.

Actually water is a lot easier to stop than dust. I work in the electrical trade and a dust proof box is a lot more expensive than a rainproof box. Open up a rainproof breaker box on the outside of any house and you'll see what I mean.

Something being more expensive does not mean it is more difficult to achieve. Also there is a difference between "weather-proof" and "waterproof". Submerging something in water is a whole other story than throwing some water on it. There's a lot more pressure and it needs to be completely enclosed. Dust and sand are by fact larger particles than water molecules and therefore are easier to filter or repel.