I Bet You've Never Broken a Piece of Camera Gear as Expensive as This Shattered Lens

And if you have somehow broken a piece of gear as expensive as this, you have my sincere sympathy. Here's what happens when a projectile traveling over 100 mph meets a very, very, very, very expensive camera lens. 

Edwin Encarnacion hits baseballs really hard, sometimes up to 114 mph. At today's Indians and Athletics game, he hit a screaming line drive foul ball into the camera bay. At first, I thought it hit Andre Knott, the Indians' beloved on-the-field reporter, but he stuck his head out of the camera bay and flashed a thumbs up, after which I didn't think about the foul ball again, until my phone buzzed with a notification that Encarnacion had actually hit one of the broadcast cameras dead-on. That's a shattered Fujinon Digipower 76 lens, a unit that retailed somewhere north of $100,000 when it came out a few years ago. In other words, you could throw a couple of today's most expensive 100-megapixel medium format cameras off a roof and not come close to jeopardizing the amount of equipment that errant foul did. 

The Digipower 76 is a broadcast lens designed for the 9.6 x 5.4mm image format for 16:9 television. It has a 76x zoom range covering focal lengths from 9.3mm to 710mm (18.6mm to 1,420mm with a 2x extender), a maximum aperture range of f/1.7-f/3.6 (impressively, it holds f/1.7 all the way to 334mm), an impressive matching T-stop range of T1.8-T3.8, and a bevy of neat features, all weighing in at 48 lbs (21.8 kg). 

By the way, last season, Giancarlo Stanton hit a home run that managed to seriously damage a Canon XJ72, a lens that sat around $60,000 in value, so it appears Encarnacion is upping the ante. As far as I can tell, a Digipower 101 would probably be the most expensive lens to smack, with a price tag well above $200,000. There's still half a season of baseball left, so we'll see what happens. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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He should have put a filter on it. :)

Now, ready for amazing creative flare!

Lens barrel in one! Did he buy a round of drinks for the stadium?

I wish!

Hmm... 114 MPH? No. Fastest pitch EVER recorded is around 105.1 MPH. Otherwise, good story.

A batted ball can reach about 120 mph: https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/statcast_leaderboard

Funny thing is Edwin's salary is around 120k per game

and now.. a comment from those people who don't believe in lens hoods or filters 'for protection'. - replacing good glass is...expensive.

Because a really good UV filter would stop a baseball traveling 114 mph. Why don't you test that with the lens in your photo? I am, however, a big fan of hoods for protection.

UV filter would make even more mess.

In all honesty, I use SIGMA's WR filters for one reason, to avoid sand on my front element. This is because I live here in the Middle East and boy oh boy what a treat in every breeze.
Other than that, I don't expect it to be an armor or somewhat.

Do they make Kevlar UV filters? 😁

i'm guessing that it did have some kind of filter because you can still see the game clear in some of the unbroken or empty sections of the camera. i was not watching that game but did they cut to that shot again ?

It seems to still produce good imaging at different focal lengths judging by the "art" footage. Assuming that those parts are built to be serviceable as part of the price tag, I don't think it's a write-off.

The camera man doesn't look THAT concerned does he? Thats because he knows that all that has been broken is the plane (flat) protective glass in front of the distal lens element! This is RELATIVELY (!) cheap to replace.
As someone commented above - you can still clearly see the game going on through the missing gaps in this outer protective glass, which tells you that the expensive refractive elements are OK. Of course if the ball hit hard enough it could have sent shards of broken glass hurtling into the front refractive element scratching it in the process.

Should have used an iPhone.