Camera Rain Gear Review

Wet happens. Having photography without protection in unstable climates is more than risky—it’s an invitation to calamity. Practicing unprotected video may seem like a safer alternative, but that’s a myth. Why take chances with something as precious as your camera? Here’s a look at five products you should have on hand when life deals up an unexpected cloudburst

Your camera gear might be weather resistant, splashproof or even waterproof. Those are vague, general terms; you can read better definitions here. Walking on the cautious side of the road, please take the labels to mean that the gear has additional protection against the elements—but not necessarily absolute protection. How are you supposed to know if you’re one raindrop over the water resistance limit?

I’ve seen many, many cameras that were ruined by liquid. Water can be a devil. A camera that got wet on Monday might work on Friday and Saturday, but come Sunday the corrosion short circuits a wire trace and the DSLR becomes a brick. Sometimes the damage takes so long to show up that the owner honestly forgets the encounter with liquid. Long story told short, the best way to avoid liquid damage is to keep your equipment dry. Period.

It’s Probably Wetter Than You Think
According to Weather Atlas, New Jersey receives some form of precipitation 122.2 days per year. That’s a hair more than 1/3 of the time, 33.4% of the year to be precise, for a state that has been called many things but never a rain forest.

Even if you live in a drier area you may still need protection from dust, blowing sand or aerial bombardment from sharpshooting pigeons.

Peak Design Shell
You know these guys. The Peak Design Travel Tripod (read my review here) received financial backing on Kickstarter to the tune of $12,143,435 as of this writing. That’s a lot of beans in a category that’s relatively unglamorous (compared to lenses, for example). They have performed similar feats of Kickstarter magic with their camera bags, too. And I must say that the success and subsequent accolades are all well deserved.

The Peak Design Shell is made of a stretchy fabric that has a waterproof membrane embedded to keep moisture out and is available in small, medium and large sizes (see sizing chart). It’s the most nimble and least cumbersome rain cover I have ever used, hands down.

Order from Amazon. Prices start around $39

Think Tank Photo Emergency Rain Covers
One of my favorite manufacturers of camera conveyance products, Think Tank Photo is known for their clever and sturdy designs, extensive product range and virtually indestructible construction. I currently use and thoroughly appreciate the Think Tank Pro Speed Belt System which I credit for sparing me from much back pain.  

The Think Tank Photo rain covers come in various sizes to accommodate big and small lenses. They are seam-sealed and very strong but still easy to pack because they can be compressed to fairly small mass—small enough that you can keep one near you whenever you travel. Among the easiest covers to use, too, because of the oversized window that allows you to view camera LCD and controls.

Available from Amazon. Price is about $34

ORCA Small Umbrella
Taking an entirely different approach, ORCA protects cameras from precip that’s falling more-or-less vertically, but if you get caught in a crosswind you might be in trouble. And of course, if you get caught in a very strong wind, you may just blow away. Still, this system is the only type that truly delivers 100% unfettered access to your equipment and all controls thereon. And it protects stuff from the blazing sun too.

The ORCA Small Umbrella measures a fairly petite 19.7 inches in diameter and is fitted with flexible and durable fiberglass rods. It features a stem with a ¼-inch female thread for attaching it to a cold shoe, tripod, stand or other gear. Not sure whether or not it’s safe to use if there’s lightning, but you shouldn’t be outside if there’s lightning anyway, so don’t take any chances if the storm turns electrical.

B&H Photo and other photo specialty stores sell the ORCA Umbrella for around $40.

LensCoat RainCoat
Weather protection specialists in every sense of the word, and the brand that so many professionals rely on, LensCoat is the Lamborghini of rain cover products without the Lambo price tag.

RainCoats are made in the USA and produced in a staggering array of sizes, shapes, functions and camouflage patterns. Oh yes, they got camo. Camo for your cameras, lenses, tripods, nieces and nephews. Great stuff and it lasts a lifetime.

Large selection available at at a wide range of price points starting around $59.

CamRebel Water-Resistant Rain Cover Protector
Protecting both the gear and the gearhead, this rain-resistant poncho from CamRebel is rather self-explanatory. We have not tested this hands-on but it sure looks like an interesting and uber-useful product to have around when the sky opens up.

As their online listing reads, “The cameramen body part fits thin or fat, tall or short man and woman, please note the height of our model is 5'5" and of a middle size body. The long cover act as a rain cover in rainy days, and as a cold-proof warmer in winter days. With it attached, your camera and your body will be avoided to exposed to the rain snow or some special condition such as color run.”

I don’t know about you, but I just hate color run.

This product comes with a two-year warranty and is available from Amazon. Price is $32

—Jon Sienkiewicz

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