Often the best photography happens in the worst weather, but if you do not protect your camera from the elements, it could be the death of your camera. Fortunately, I have found some inexpensive ways to protect my camera from rain without breaking the bank. I should mention as a preliminary note, however, that some cameras are more prone to problems from the rain than others. Some cameras and lenses come with weather sealing built-in, which is an added protection from a minor amount of water splashing or raining on the camera.
I have personally shot with a weather sealed camera in a downpour of rain, right beside a waterfall, and many other very wet conditions without ruining weather-sealed cameras. However, it is best to use the weather sealing on a camera as a safety net against water problems and have something else to protect the camera as your primary defense.
Further, it is essential that you protect your camera from the rain if you shoot in a humid climate. If you live in Florida, the Phillipines, California, Hawaii, Brazil, or other tropical climates, even a small amount of water that sits in your camera or lens will almost assuredly mold. When mold grows in a lens, it is the end of the lens. Be careful! Tip: One way to prevent mold from growing on lenses is to extend zoom lenses while they dry.
Keep an one-time use rain sleeve in your camera bag: Amazon.com sells a simple one-time use camera rain sleeve for only a few dollars. Buy one today and simply stick it in your camera bag. Then, when the light is perfect but the weather is not, you can simply slip it over your camera and shoot without worry.
Use a large plastic bag or shower cap: If you want to find a cheaper alternative than even the rain sleeve, you can also use a large gallon-size plastic bag as an impromptu rain sleeve in a pinch. If you are traveling and need some protection from the rain, you can even use the shower cap that hotels include free in the bathroom.
Use an umbrella: I know… shocking, right? Sometimes the easiest solution is the right one. If you are shooting portraiture or some other type of photography where you are holding the camera, an umbrella would be impractical; however, if you are shooting a landscape or are using a tripod, an umbrella is likely the simplest solution. Honestly, an umbrella is often better than even a rain sleeve because it keeps the front element on your lens from getting wet. Not only is an umbrella a great way to keep the camera dry and protected, but it also is a perfect prop for shooting in the rain. Consider including it in the photo!
Buy an actual rain sleeve from a lesser-known company: Most rain sleeves from name-brand companies such as Think Tank, but there are some excellent rain sleeves on the market made by other companies that merit your attention. I personally use a DSLR rain sleeve that only costs a few more dollars than the one-time use sleeve mentioned, and this has held up perfectly for the last two years I have been using it.
If all else fails: If you don't have anything to protect your camera and you are worried that the rain may cause damage to it, shoot in short bursts and keep it in the bag between shots. Look for awnings or trees as protection as well. Then, after your shoot, put the camera and lens in a large plastic bag with a cilica gel (those little packets that come in things and say "DO NOT EAT" on them) or else put some uncooked rice in the bag. This will help to dry up the humidity and prevent mold from growing inside the camera. Also be sure to remove the battery immediately after the shoot.
The writer is a photographer, blogger and the write-up has appeared at www.improvephotography.com
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