The Sleeping Giant's Sea Lion

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I've been trying to photograph lightning lately, as we have had some great storms in Colorado. I've had some difficulty getting a good vantage point, however, as almost all of these storms include rain as well. To keep my camera from getting drenched (I have weather-sealed lenses, but my camera body, a Canon 450D, is not weather sealed as far as I can tell), I've had to shoot under the eve of a building or under a thick canopy of trees, however that has greatly limited my ability to adapt to the changing weather and get get a vantage point on the best lightning.

Is there any equipment, something I can purchase or something home-made that has easy-to-find parts, that can help me protect my lens from the rain while still being able to shoot? Additionally, I've been getting rain on a UV filter I have on the front of my lenses, simply to prevent rain from getting on the front lens element itself. However, once a storm really gets going, so does the rain. Is there a simple solution to keep rain off the front of the lens?

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6 Answers 6

up vote 18 down vote accepted

There is actually quite a few products designed specifically for this purpose, ranging in prices.

Most of the products are glorified rain ponchos, and as such, if you have the DIY spirit, you can save yourself major bucks.

This is a really good instructional on making one out of rain pants.

If you'd rather buy an OTS solution, then consider the ThinkTank Hydrophobia, or similar products.

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2  
Thanks for the DIY link! Great stuff! :D –  jrista Aug 12 '10 at 0:31

I think I'm a little more cavalier with this stuff than most; I'm happy to shoot in most rain with precautions amounting to keeping the camera mostly under my coat, and using a couple of dry cloths to wipe off the drips. If it gets to the point of needing a cover, it'd have to something pretty special to even get me outside, let alone the camera.

Regardless of how you keep the camera dry, though, a lens hood is a must-have in snow and rain, even with a completely sealed camera, just to help keep the front of the lens clear.

For snow I'm much less concerned than rain (unless it's the wet, sticky, already-melting kind of snow). It's usually fairly easily brushed off before it melts.

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I usually collect hotel plastic caps for that purpose. In a pinch, I can punch a hole in the middle to put my lens through, and use the rest of the cap to cover my camera, with the elastic opening giving me access to the buttons. It's not perfect, but it's free, and small enough to always keep one in my camera bag.

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There are various companies that make covers for cameras, such as:

Fotosharp

You can also do it yourself with plastic bags, especially since you have WR lenses. Final thought, you could look for something like this for an umbrella.

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I like to make my own, but I don't go out places where I need one often. I only bother with a plastic cover if I am going hiking in the rain. The poncho hood is good if you are shooting from a tripod, but if you want to walk around in heavy rain and not pay attention to which direction you hold your camera* this guide might be for you.

Ingredients

  • 1 large zippered freezer bag, big enough for the camera and lens
  • 1 colapsable lens hood. The type that screws on as a filter
  • 1 roll of good tape: duct tape, gorilla tape, gaffers tape...
  • 1 clear protection filter of the same size as the lens hood (and presumably your lens)

Sources

Directions

  1. Check fit of camera and lens in bag.
  2. Cut X in bag size of lens hood, remove tips of each flap so that the flaps can be taped onto the extended lens hood.
  3. Put camera in bag, screw lens onto lens hood.
  4. zip up the bag, add a tiny hole and screw on tripod plate (optional) or tripod screw wrist strap.
  5. Add a clear protection filter to the inside of the lens hood (thats why we got the screw one).

Notes

The viewfinder will be a little hard to see well, composition is ok, but you will have to trust autofocus. I've taken out my camera in such a setup in pouring rain for a 5 mile hike- it stayed much dryer than I did.

*any direction will work, except lens up. You will get water drops on the filter.

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There are a number of things you can do and most solutions depend on the size of lens you are using, for longer telephotos and my 70-200 2.8 I use OpTech Rain sleeves, These are cheap and disposable.

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