When out on the paintball field taking pictures or video, it's necessary to protect your equipment from everything going on around you. Obviously a direct hit from a paintball would be crippling to most cameras, so personally I go out of my way to prevent this from hapenning (I've made this mistake before!)
Many people ask about it on the field, and people have asked about protecting their equipment on online forums, so I'm making this page about it. Most of the cases seen here were made using hand tools and some fairly common cutting utencils.
I use this very crude shield-type protecter with my Canon Powershot cameras. I originally designed this case for use in the machine shop (for filming machines using coolant fluid) but it also works on the paintball field too. The front lens is sacrificial, however it has yet to crack despite being hit by flying paint a few times in the past. The purpose of this case is to guard against flying debris more than to take actual hits, though. If the front lens were to crack I would throw it out and replace with a new one.
Picture coming soon...when I remember to do it
This case was designed and built by a friend of mine (DTM on the online forums) who is the one filming some of my Big Game videos. The case is made to enclose the camera and protect it from anything short of a direct hit to the lens itself. Here's some pics from 2005 when he first used it during some games:
The chances of a direct lens hit are quite low, so long as you know how to properly film the action. When I use this camera I will keep one eye on the action ahead of me, then watch the camera's viewfinder using my peripheral view in the other eye. This way, I can see any paint flying directly at me (and can react in time to dodge the camera) while at the same time seeing the camera's view too. You can also try simply pointing the camera forward and ignoring the viewfinder all together.
The screws are made for wood, so they will "self-tap" themselves into the plastic, but the holes were also pre-drilled to help avoid cracking the plexiglass. Another detail about this design is that the case can't be totally enclosed from the outside air. If it were totally enclosed, the temperature within would raise and the lens will start to uncontrollably fog. To guard against this, the top and bottom sides of the case have multiple holes drilled to allow ventilation, and the top holes are covered with a layer of loose foam to stop debris from entering (this is seen in the pictures above). Paint and dirt can't get in, but enough air can pass through to keep the lens from fogging.
Wearable Camcorder Case:
This device is not so much a "case" as it is a sacrificial protector attached to the camera. The wearable camcorder being used is a CountourHD, mounted to my paintball mask via a special mount I made. The protective case is simply a collar attachment that mounts to the front of the camera, and gives me a place to screw on a plexiglass sheet. This serves two purposes, primarilly to protect the lens from dust and paint splatter. The secondary purpose of this is that the whole device can take a direct paintball hit and absorb the impact rather than have the shock travel into the metal camera itself. The lens is meant to be sacrificial; if it gets damaged you just replace it with a new one.
This particular item was a little more intricate to produce compared to the other cases on this page. I designed it in CAD and had it fabricated using a rapid prototype machine called a 3d printer, which is a literal way of producing viable plastic components of any design that doesn't use a "machining" method to fabricate the parts. Instead the printer assembles the parts layer by layer. In total this part would cost about $15 worth of plastic material to fabricate, and took about an hour to completely print. It's designed to be flexible so I don't know the exact amount of force required to physically break it.