Magnesium bodies

Started Mar 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
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The downside of magnesium
In reply to Leonard Migliore, Mar 29, 2012

While magnesium is touted for its stiffness, a downside of this stiffness is that magnesium body plates are unyielding and brittle, and therefore more prone to cracking if dropped. This is in contrast to polycarbonate plastic bodies, which can withstand impacts much better because plastic is much more resilient and dissipates shock much better. Here are just a few examples of cracked and damaged magnesium alloy camera bodies resulting from being dropped. As you can see, magnesium alloy isn't always what it's cracked up to be. (Sorry for the bad pun.)

If you're wondering how plastic would have fared in the same situations, here is a good example (below). This is a Canon 7D that has been dropped at the point where the back magnesium body plate and the bottom plastic body plate meet. As you can see, the plastic body plate survived but the magnesium body plate cracked and broke off. The impact force was severe enough to put a deep "compression wound" in the plastic. But the plastic still held up. Unfortunately, the same can not be said for the magnesium. Something tells me that the weather sealing on this 7D isn't going to be quite as good as it used to be!

It's for this reason that I would be much less worried about dropping my plastic Canon 60D than I would my magnesium Canon 40D. Plastic is just so much more resilient and can handle impact shock much better. That's why sports helmets are made of high tech plastics, not magnesium! The shock-dissipating properties of plastics are also probably better for the internal components of cameras too, just like a plastic helmet protects your sensitive brain tissue from impact shock.

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