Photographer’s $12K lens is ruined after being struck by a baseball at 104 mph.


During a baseball game, a photographer had his really expensive Sony 400mm f/2.8 lens, which is worth $12,000, completely destroyed when a foul ball crashed into the glass of the lens.

Jim Rassol was taking photos at the MLB game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Miami Marlins in Florida. While he was there, an accidental ball hit his lens, which was moving really fast at a speed of 104 miles per hour.

The incident at the Marlins Stadium was captured by TV cameras, showing the exact moment when the lens took a direct hit from the ball, causing the glass to shatter. The live feed then switched to a saddened Rassol, who was still holding the broken lens while also holding the ball responsible for the damage.

‘That’s an Expensive Foul Ball There’

Bally Sports tweeted out the video clip, and another photographer named Eric Seals shared a screenshot from Rassol’s Facebook post. In the post, Rassol explained that the lens cannot be fixed, but he reassured everyone that he is unharmed.

In his Facebook post, Rassol describes the incident, saying, “My 400 2.8 lens got completely destroyed by a line drive. Glass shattered everywhere. Thankfully, I’m alright. Later on, I found out that the line drive that hit my lens had a speed of 104 miles per hour.”

Another photographer who was also at the game but in a different location mentioned that the sound of the glass shattering could be heard throughout the entire stadium.

JC Ruiz Photography, who was positioned in the first base photo well, remarked, “I heard the moment when the ball smashed into his 400mm lens, and that’s how loud it was.”

Many people were curious about the final photo Jim Rassol took before his lens was irreparably damaged, wondering what it looked like.

One of the commentators expressed curiosity, wondering if Jim Rassol managed to capture the moment the ball was heading towards his lens in his last shot.

Later, Rassol was captured on camera gesturing towards the broadcast camera, tossing the baseball responsible for the damage up and down, while simultaneously shrugging his shoulders.

The commentator sympathetically remarked, “It’s really unfortunate. You can clearly see the disappointment on his face.” Meanwhile, Rassol pointed at his head, indicating that he’d rather have the lens damaged than his own skull.

During games, baseballs occasionally hit broadcast cameras, but these cameras are typically equipped with protective filters that shield the actual lens elements. As a result, although costly, such collisions typically do not result in a completely destroyed lens. It is much rarer for a baseball to hit a photographer’s lens, particularly considering that most photographers are positioned in photo pits that offer some level of protection against such incidents. In this particular case, Rassol simply experienced a stroke of incredibly bad luck.

Update as of June 27, 2023: It has been discovered that Rassol’s equipment was not insured, meaning that the lens is a complete personal loss for him. However, a group of his fellow photojournalists have initiated a crowdfunding campaign to assist him in replacing the lens. The campaign has garnered a remarkable amount of support thus far, showcasing the solidarity and generosity within the photography community.

In a heartfelt statement on the GoFundMe page, Joseph Cavaretta, a senior photographer at the South Florida Sun Sentinel, describes the incident as a freak accident. He highlights Jim Rassol’s hard work, mentioning that he has been diligently covering mostly sports assignments for wire services since leaving the South Florida Sun Sentinel. As a freelancer, Rassol is responsible for providing his own equipment, including a computer and software. With minimal profits, insurance coverage was not feasible for him.

“A significant portion of Jim Rassol’s investment in his photography work revolves around acquiring long telephoto lenses to effectively cover sports events. The direct impact of a line drive hitting the front of his crucial Sony 400 2.8 lens during the Marlins game has dealt him a substantial setback. In order to support him, several of his fellow photojournalist colleagues, including myself, are rallying together to assist in replacing this essential piece of equipment.”

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