How to Protect Your Camera Against Nearly Anything

0Share

The phrase “dust and water resistant” has become so pervasive in the camera industry that it nearly comes as a given with any new camera or lens. Nobody wants to invest a considerable chunk of money on a camera only to have it melt in the rain like the Wicked Witch of the West. The same goes for dust, dirt, and sand—all of which share an unwavering attraction to camera equipment. But what does “dust and water resistant” mean? Each manufacturer has varying approaches to protecting its camera equipment depending on how it is expected to be used. That a top-of-the-line telephoto lens designed for sports and wildlife photographers is going to be more thoroughly sealed than a kit lens should come as no surprise. Most cameras can survive light rain, but what if you end up caught in a downpour or plan on shooting in the desert? Here are some tips to prepare your camera for nearly anything.

Planning for undesirable environmental conditions involves creating layers of protection. Start with your camera bag. This is your camera’s last retreat, so you want to make sure that it’s a fortress. How resistant to water is its exterior material? How does it close? Are you able to completely seal it shut if needed? Does it come with a rain cover? When choosing a bag for working in wet environments, pay attention to its bottom panel. Look for additional reinforcement or weatherproofing so that you can set it down on something wet without worrying about water soaking through into the bag.

Look to see if your bag or its materials have an IP (Ingress Protection) Code rating. The IP Code criteria correspond to industrial tests to which items are subjected to determine their resistance to water. For the sake of practical consideration, items in Class 1 can tolerate light rain, Class 2 heavy rain, and Class 3 brief submersion.

Lowepro DryZone 200 Backpack
Lowepro DryZone 200 Backpack

If you are planning to work on or in water, you will need more than just resistance. A dry bag is crucial in the event that your kayak capsizes, or you drop the bag while crossing a stream. Many are designed to float when placed in water so that you can quickly recover your gear. It is also helpful to check the depth to which a bag is waterproof for extreme uses.

OverBoard Waterproof Kayak Deck Bag
OverBoard Waterproof Kayak Deck Bag

Water and dirt are not the only concerns for active photographers. Your camera can be completely sealed but still fall victim to a damaging drop or scratch. Silicone skins for camera bodies provide superficial protection against such damage. Lens bumpers and ring bands provide a first line of defense for lenses with a minimal footprint. Lens skins offer a more thorough layer of security, serving as a thermal shield and extra layer of water protection.

easyCover Lens Rim
easyCover Lens Rim

Rain shields provide a more temporary method of protection. They are equally suited for protecting against dust and dirt. Most are secured via bungee closures, so they are far from a complete seal. However, the more layers you can put between your gear and the elements, the better. Many extend from lens to camera body, while providing access to controls on the top and rear of your camera.

Movo Photo Waterproof Nylon Rain Cover with Enclosed Hand Sleeves
Movo Photo Waterproof Nylon Rain Cover with Enclosed Hand Sleeves

For the most thorough camera-specific protection available, consider an underwater housing. These can be camera/lens-specific or more general. Since they are necessarily sealed, you won’t have to worry about liquids or solids getting into your camera gear. Be aware, however, that in many cases, this option is the least user-friendly, since there is a layer of protection between you and the controls of your camera.

DiCAPac Waterproof Case for Mirrorless Camera
DiCAPac Waterproof Case for Mirrorless Cameras

If you are concerned not only about your camera but also keeping yourself dry, check out ORCA’s Outdoor Production Umbrellas. Models are available specifically designed for use with light stands, tripods, or other support compatible with a ⅜" or ¼" thread. This will allow you and your gear to remain dry without you or an assistant needing to hold the umbrella.

ORCA Outdoor Production Umbrella with Cine Clamp
ORCA Outdoor Production Umbrella with Cine Clamp

Don’t forget to protect your memory cards! Many cases for memory cards are water and dirt resistant. Depending on your needs, you may also want to look into “tough” memory cards that feature water, shock, crush, or temperature resistance.

Sony 128GB CFexpress Type B TOUGH Memory Card
Sony 128GB CFexpress Type B TOUGH Memory Card

Last, but not least, consider investing in a camera designed specifically for harsh environments. The Ricoh G900 is just one example of a camera built to withstand nearly anything. Waterproof to 65.6', shockproof to 6.6', freezeproof, crushproof, dustproof, and even resistant to chemical disinfection, you can toss it in your bag without having to worry about picking up any of the other accessories listed in this guide.

Ricoh G900 Digital Camera
Ricoh G900 Digital Camera

Do you have any tricks for keeping your camera safe while working under difficult conditions? We’d love to hear them in the Comments section, below.

Close

Close

Close