Keeping It Dry

Pouring down rain outside the windows of Camera West in Walnut Creek right now. Need to shoot in these conditions? Read on…

Two worst things for a digital camera : impact and water. Drop your camera on a hard surface and your camera (and your day) is most likely ruined – same with water. One drop inside where the circuitry resides and it’s off to the repair facility for a very expensive fix.

You all know how to avoid dropping your camera so we won’t go there but I thought I’d pass on some tips for keeping your equipment dry while shooting in the rain.

Believe me I learned this first hand one day many years ago when I had to explain to my boss how my (actually the SF Chronicle’s) $15,000. Canon EOS D2000 got wet and died during a rain-soaked 49er game. It really wasn’t my fault, because I did my best to keep it dry, but the camera according to the Canon repair techs was unrepairable – a complete loss due to water in the circuitry. An expensive lesson learned!

During my career as a shooter for the San Francisco Chronicle, I had countless shoots outside in the pouring rain. Keeping myself dry was never a problem, however the camera equipment was another matter and sometimes using an umbrella was not an option. Umbrellas on the sidelines of a 49er game was definitely frowned upon by the NFL.

So, before ThinkTank came up with their Hydrophobia series of excellent rain covers, I used a very simple, low tech solution…a grocery store plastic bag. Camera and lens was placed inside the bag, with the opening of the bag wrapped around the front of the lens and secured tightly with rubber bands. With this, I was able to work all the controls of the camera and still see through the viewfinder and check my images on the LCD. Worked well, even in the heaviest downpours. Only drawbacks were: a camera strap could not be used and you still had to be careful to not get water on the exposed front element. I always carried a small, soft chamois cloth in the pocket of my my gore-tex rain jacket just for this purpose. It worked perfectly for absorbing all the water drops that collected on the front element, and when the chamois cloth got soaked, it was a simple matter of just wringing it out. A standard microfiber cloth once soaked is worthless, but a chamois keeps on working. Covered many rainy 49er games this way, wiping the raindrops off the huge front element of my 400mm f2.8.

Since I found myself shooting often in the rain, I eventually made a custom waterproof camera cover out of a gore-tex stuff sack I picked up at REI. With a bungy-cord replacement of the draw string, a square hole cut in the bottom of the sack for the eyepiece, and a slit along the side for the monopod and my hand, I had the perfect cover for my camera with a 400mm f2.8. This served me well until ThinkTank came up with the perfect solution : the Hydrophobia 300-600mm cover.

Of course you could forget all the above and just buy the Canon 1DX. A Canon rep once told me you could place this camera with an “L” lens under the shower and let the water run for hours without damaging the camera or lens, but would you do this to your own camera, even if it was a 1DX? I think not.

Have peace of mind and get the ThinkTank Hydrophobia for your next shoot in the rain. Order yours today at Camera West.

Key Features (aside from peace of mind) :
• Built in camera strap and lens mounting system (70-200 and 70-200 Flash models only)
• Full view rear and top windows
• Built-in front element cover
• Storage for eye piece • Mesh storage bag included • Easy access to controls, lens and tripod mounts

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