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I know most of the Canon L series lenses are weather sealed but is the Canon 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM lens a good lens for shooting in the rain?

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According to the information provided by Canon, the 25-105mm F/4L is weather-sealed, that is why we use the umbrella icon in its specification page. Some Canon lenses require a screw-on filter to complete the seal but this is not one of them.

The exact wording from Canon is:

Tight seal structure ensures excellent dust-proof and drip-proof performance.

This should be enough for downpoors when used with an equally weatherproof camera.

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  • Drip proof is one thing, but a downpour that allows water to pool in certain spots, such as the well for the AF/M switch, faster than it can drain is another thing entirely. By 'downpour' I'm referring to hurricane/typhoon type conditions that can dump several inches of rain in just a few minutes. If you've never been in such a tropical storm then what you consider a 'downpour' is likely not the same thing. – Michael C Nov 23 '13 at 15:15
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    Hey Michael, I wouldn't question Itai's travel experience or conditions he's shot in. He's done it before. Period. – dpollitt Nov 23 '13 at 15:45
  • @dpollitt I'm not questioning his experience, just whether we share the same definition of 'downpour', especially since he is from a part of the world where English is not the primary language for most residents. Sometimes the meaning of words can be lost in translation. – Michael C Nov 23 '13 at 17:26
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    @dpollitt And Roger Cicala's comments re:weather sealing such as the one you cite in this answer photo.stackexchange.com/a/41445/15871 are one reason I wouldn't trust any of my lenses in an environment where they are getting wet faster than the water can run off them. A plastic bag and some gaffer's tape are very cheap, very easy to stash in your camera bag, and very easy to use when needed. – Michael C Nov 23 '13 at 17:38
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I've used the EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS for short periods in light to medium rain with no ill effects before. Mine has also survived collisions with football players, bumps from working in a dense crowd, and the occasional 'soft' drop from a foot or two. The thing is built like a tank.

But, as AJ Henderson points out in his answer, it is also a lens with variable internal volume as the lens is zoomed in or out. Some folks refer to such a lens as a "dust pump" because the lens must allow air, as well as the dust and moisture in the air, to vent in and out as the internal volume of the lens changes. Also, although there is a rubber O-ring where the inner barrel slides in and out of the main barrel, it is not an impenetrable barrier.

Having said that, I wouldn't use any of my "L" glass in a downpour or rain of any intensity for long periods of time without using a rain cover of some type. Weather sealed is not the same thing as waterproof!

Roger Cicala's comments re:weather sealing such as the one dpollitt cites in this answer are one reason I wouldn't trust any of my lenses in an environment where they are getting wet faster than the water can run off them. A plastic bag and some gaffer's tape are very cheap, very easy to stash in your camera bag, and very easy to use when needed.


Update since I wrote this answer almost 3 years ago:

I've now had the "opportunity" to use this lens unprotected in heavy rain for short periods as well as for extended periods in light to moderate rain. This lens doesn't let water inside as long as the water can run off of it as fast as it is falling onto it. Ideally when I am shooting in adverse weather I wrap my gear in plastic covers, but in those instances when bad weather broke out unexpectedly and my bag might have been stored halfway across a stadium or in the equipment truck I've had no damage from water to my EF 24-105mm f/4 IS.

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As a non-fixed volume lens, the amount of weather sealing that is possible is limited. As Itai mentioned, it uses the verbiage that it is dust and drip proof which is not quite as good as their fixed volume lenses which are generally weather proof.

Is it going to have much problem in all but the harshest conditions, probably not. My 24-70f/2.8 II falls under similar level of weather sealing and I've never had any issues, however I'd avoid extended downpour usage with lenses that are not fixed volume as they will suck in outside air (and some of the moisture involved) when actuating the zoom or focus (thus changing the internal volume).

It's also worth noting that you need to have a weather sealed camera body as the back side of lenses are not generally sealed, but rather rely on the sealing of the camera body. The level of weather sealing for a rig is based on the level of weather sealing of ALL components. If you have a battery grip that isn't weather sealed, the entire rig can be compromised by that one component because it will allow moisture in to the camera body and from there into the lens.

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  • The last paragraph seems misleading. Weather sealed lenses typically do have a rubber gasket at the mount. I suppose it's possible that a body that's not sealed might have a mount that doesn't mate properly against that gasket, but the main reason you need a weather-sealed body is that water could enter the body directly around the buttons, dials, etc. – Caleb Aug 14 '16 at 16:11
  • @Caleb - it's not misleading. The gasket is designed to form a seal against the body and will do that regardless of the body. My point was that the back end of the lens (inside where the gasket is) is not designed to prevent moisture entering the lens. If the body isn't weather sealed as well, moisture can enter the lens from the body itself. – AJ Henderson Aug 14 '16 at 17:24

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