Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?

Started 3 months ago | Discussions
Angrymagpie
Angrymagpie Contributing Member • Posts: 770
Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?

I've been thinking about bringing a camera with me when I do road cycling.

Something like a RX100 series camera and similar point-and-shoot that could fit into a larger saddle bag of my road bike (or a stem bag, a top-tube bag...etc).

The issue is, I wonder if the vibration from the road, plus the occasional encounters with potholes and speed bumps, could damage the camera (particularly the retractable lens)

Is this something any of you have an experience on?

Thanks

Sony RX100
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AlbertTheLazy
AlbertTheLazy Veteran Member • Posts: 8,349
Re: Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?

I know a guy who was the 'nominated photographer' on a pushbike ride from Beijing to Paris. He just kept his Olympus in a padded front basket to have it easy to access because he needed to keep up with the rest of the group.

And the average roads were not particularly smooth.

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Confused of Malvern Senior Member • Posts: 1,478
Re: Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?
2

Angrymagpie wrote:

Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?

Vibration is unlikely to cause any damage....but if the camera gets knocked about in the saddle bag then that could cause damage. Just put it in a suitably padded camera case/bag and it will be fine.

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Alphoid Veteran Member • Posts: 5,678
It depends on the camera

My RX100 has gone through exactly what you're describing without issues, so I think it's okay. Or to be specific, it was in my backpack for thousands of miles of cycling, including off-road. Backpack is a bit better padded than stem, but off-road is a bit more bumpy, so I think it's probably the about the same. It should be fine.

But it's not a general rule.

Several people mentioned Olympus, and Olympus cameras tend to be rock-solid. High-end Canikon models tend to be super-robust too -- especially Nikon -- are designed to be used by journalists in war zones, by National Geo in Antarctica, and in all sorts of extreme settings. Pentax cameras are known to be tough as well.

On the other hand, my Panasonic LX100 was quite delicate. Low-end Canikon models have cheap, fragile plastic builds, where a few bumps easily knock things out of alignment and will take worse photos forever. I've used a few (now ancient) Fuji cameras which, while exceptionally well-made, were designed as precision equipment of the type you really want to handle delicately. You treat those like the precision optics instruments they are, they'll treat you well in return, but I wouldn't want to bump one.

So you're probably okay, but I wouldn't take that as a general rule. It depends on the particular model.

FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 13,964
Re: Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?

Just make sure that it is wrapped up in something soft. It is not the vibration itself but knocks that will damage it.

Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 18,374
Re: Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?
1

Angrymagpie wrote:

I've been thinking about bringing a camera with me when I do road cycling.

Something like a RX100 series camera and similar point-and-shoot that could fit into a larger saddle bag of my road bike (or a stem bag, a top-tube bag...etc).

The issue is, I wonder if the vibration from the road, plus the occasional encounters with potholes and speed bumps, could damage the camera (particularly the retractable lens)

Is this something any of you have an experience on?

I have carried an RX100 for thousands of miles of cycling on roads varying from smooth to awful. The camera is just fine. I keep it in a padded case in a bag attached to my rear wheel rack.

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bridge77 Junior Member • Posts: 45
Re: Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?

with old used dslr cameras very cheap on ebay, then having 2 cameras seems to work for me.

my old camera is a canon beater, easily replaced for about 50 bucks used. the good one is for the gentle days.

the strategy works for me, never broke any canon dslr yet.  my early point and shoots didn't survive too well ..........thank you canon.

same goes for lenses, my first canon dslr, the dealer threw in a free extra kit lens.........still works.

this is a good strategy for about every thing, otherwise known as plan B.

this strategy works well with the future of tech, when the mirror cameras take over, bet there will be boat loads of canon/nikon dslr's in the back room every where for those rougher days.

Angrymagpie
OP Angrymagpie Contributing Member • Posts: 770
Re: It depends on the camera

Thanks for sharing your experience. The specific camera I’m planning to take with me is a Canon G5Xii. It’s not exactly a “cheap” camera, so I thought I’d check with other DPR members’ experiences first. 
From reading most of the comments, I get the impression that it should be ok. But one notable difference between my proposed use case and most of other cases mentioned so far is, it seems that most people carry their camera with a backpack of some kind. I’m not an expert at all, but I suspect the difference is more than just padding - your body essentially becomes a shock absorber of sort, absorbing much of the vibration, whereas with a stem bag or a saddle bag on a road bike, I suspect the transfer of the vibration from the road would be much greater (?)

Anyhow, I think I’ll give it a try and be extra careful, slow down for speed bumps and when the road gets choppy

Thanks for sharing again!

Alphoid Veteran Member • Posts: 5,678
Re: It depends on the camera

I think you got the wrong impression. I haven't used that particular model, so I can't comment, but you should have asked about the Canon G5XII, rather than about an RX100. It's not the same camera.

My Panasonic LX100 had a $900 MSRP, so it was the same price point. It's very similar in size, shape, and otherwise. However, my LX100 wouldn't last more than a few weeks of the way I used my RX100.

Cameras are precision optics equipment. Lens elements in some optics equipment are aligned down to 2.5 microns. Maintaining that alignment through bumps and bruises is hard. Some cameras are designed that way, and some aren't. It depends on the intended use. With a few exceptions, it's not even brand-specific.

Tony Bologna Regular Member • Posts: 188
Re: Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?
1

Personally I'd take the battery out everytime I put it in the case. My biggest concern is the camera turning itself on when you hit a bump causing the lens to expand and break.

bridge77 Junior Member • Posts: 45
Re: It depends on the camera

Alphoid wrote:

I think you got the wrong impression. I haven't used that particular model, so I can't comment, but you should have asked about the Canon G5XII, rather than about an RX100. It's not the same camera.

My Panasonic LX100 had a $900 MSRP, so it was the same price point. It's very similar in size, shape, and otherwise. However, my LX100 wouldn't last more than a few weeks of the way I used my RX100.

Cameras are precision optics equipment. Lens elements in some optics equipment are aligned down to 2.5 microns. Maintaining that alignment through bumps and bruises is hard. Some cameras are designed that way, and some aren't. It depends on the intended use. With a few exceptions, it's not even brand-specific.

thanks for the heads up.  think i will be more careful with my equipment, even my beater camera.  usually i keep my camera in a case with lens, but it may be best to keep it out of the trunk of a car and carry on a seat instead?

Alphoid Veteran Member • Posts: 5,678
Re: It depends on the camera

Depends on the camera and the lens. You can't generalize.

The Nikon F series were used by photojournalists in Vietnam. Ever seen a Vietnam War movie? That's what the cameras went through, and they kept on shooting. The trunk of your car doesn't compare to bumping around in a Huey helicopter, crawling through mud, and jumping into a ditch.

On the other hand, I once used a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. Tamron optimizes for size and weight, and uses cheap plastic construction to keep cost down. The lens got visibly worse with pretty casual use. I babied that lens, and it still degraded.

I'm very impressed with the degree to what some cameras and lenses will withstand before failing. My original RX100 has been through a lot, and when I was done, I gave it to a clumsy relative. It looks really beat up, but still takes photos as if it were good-as-new.

I've also had Sony cameras with horrible construction which I definitely wouldn't put in a trunk, though. Even Sony's flagship full frames had issues (albeit not related to lens precision). There's a tiny mechanism which has to precisely move the sensor for IBIS, and if the camera bumped around, the sensor moved around, putting a lot of strain on very tiny parts, which cracked.

You've got cameras optimized for cost, for weight, for toughness, and for precision. You don't get all of them, so different models land different places. Personally, I think we've gone a little overboard on trying to bring the weight of devices down in general (not just cameras -- laptops, cellphones, etc.). I'd much rather have devices I don't need to worry about and spend a bit of extra size and weight to get that. But I seem to be in the minority here.

Bikesmith
Bikesmith Regular Member • Posts: 242
Re: It depends on the camera

National Camera Exchange has cyclists on staff, so the question came up there. After doing some testing, presumably with some sort of accelerometer, they determined that 2 layers of bubblewrap beat any commercially available damping material. This is the 1” (25mm) bubbles, not the smaller stuff.

My instinct is that smaller cameras, with smaller moving parts, will be less likely to have a problem.

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Bikesmith
Bikesmith Regular Member • Posts: 242
Re: It depends on the camera
1

You've got cameras optimized for cost, for weight, for toughness, and for precision. You don't get all of them

Reminds me of the saying in the bike business; “Light, Cheap, Strong, pick any two.”

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Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 18,374
Ain't that the truth

Bikesmith wrote:

You've got cameras optimized for cost, for weight, for toughness, and for precision. You don't get all of them

Reminds me of the saying in the bike business; “Light, Cheap, Strong, pick any two.”

Specialized Aethos: 14.3 lb. Supposed to be stiff. $12,500. I want one.

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FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 13,964
Re: Ain't that the truth

Leonard Migliore wrote:

Bikesmith wrote:

You've got cameras optimized for cost, for weight, for toughness, and for precision. You don't get all of them

Reminds me of the saying in the bike business; “Light, Cheap, Strong, pick any two.”

Specialized Aethos: 14.3 lb. Supposed to be stiff. $12,500. I want one.

maybe not so cheap....

HRC2016 Senior Member • Posts: 6,086
Nope
1

it all depends on the camera, it's case and where it's mounted on the bike.

You need to dampen the oscillating.

Putting it into a fanny pack or something similar that you wear would be good, unless you fall.

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Alphoid Veteran Member • Posts: 5,678
Why?

My bike probably weighs triple of that, and cost 1/10th the price.

A typical adult male is in the ballpark of 200lbs. Your dream Aethos weighs 14lbs. My bike is probably 40lbs. Your bike skimmed off 10% from total weight, so Iaccelerate 90% as quick as I would on your dream bike. If I switched to an Aethos, I'd shave seconds off of my race time... but I don't race. Who cares? I won't even notice that on a normal ride. When I was in shape, I was passing (very embarrassed-looking) people riding bikes like the Aethos (who probably didn't know the total weight doesn't make a wit of difference for top speed). Today, I'm out of shape enough that bet I'd get passed by someone on a Huffy.

On the other hand:

  • My bike won't shatter if there's a hairline crack in the carbon I don't see (e.g. someone bumps your Aethos when you're not around).
  • If I leave my bike out in the rain, mud, and snow, I can re-grease the chain, and it keeps on going.
  • It's comfortable and fits me like a glove.
  • It will carry my groceries, or even everything I need for a few days' camping and a small toddler.
  • And if something does break, I can fix mine with standard, commonly-available parts, and will continue to be able to do so for decades.
RUcrAZ
RUcrAZ Veteran Member • Posts: 6,646
Re: Why?

Fair is fair. You must subtract (from the owner of the expensive bike) about 26 pounds (12 kilos) which is the weight of the 12,000 one-dollar bills they are "lighter" after the purchase of the bike. 

Krusty79 Senior Member • Posts: 2,246
Re: Will vibration from cycling damage my camera?

I carry my GM5 and two lenses with me when I ride my bike in the daytime. I've done this dozens, if not hundreds of times with no damage. My camera never turned itself on either. I don't even use a camera bag - just a ziplock bag. My daypack provides more cushioning.

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