Is Your Weather Resistant, Splashproof, Waterproof Camera Impervious to Water & Dust?

What’s the difference between water resistant and splashproof? Do weatherproof, waterproof and moisture resistant all mean the same thing? And what the heck does an IP56 rating mean? When it comes to mixing camera equipment with water, what you don’t know can hurt you—and could cost you dearly.

Manufacturers use clever, descriptive adjectives like “Splashproof” and “Weather Resistant” to mean that a device can withstand a certain amount of exposure to water. But how much water? And for how long? And what if the splash comes from the bottom instead of the top?

To our rescue comes international standard IEC 60529. It clearly defines several levels of Ingress Protection (IP) from solid particles and, separately, from water, and meticulously delineates the testing procedures required to meet those standards.

Each level is given an IP number. The first digit indicates resistance to solid objects including dust. The second digit indicates the amount of protection from water. The rating IP00, for instance, indicates no protection whatsoever. IP67 means you can endure just about anything wet and dirty.

The charts below briefly summarize the IP levels. Many manufacturers include the IP rating in the specifications of devices that are designed for underwater or all-weather use.

Footnote to owners of waterproof cameras: be sure to use lenses that are likewise waterproof.

—Jon Sienkiewicz