Monday, 30 March 2009

Weather Sealing is your friend

For the kind of photography I do, I need my cameras to be reasonably robust. I‘m often shooting in the snow, in the desert, or even in the water, all of which do not play nicely with precision electronic equipment.

And it’s at times like those that you want to have complete faith in your equipment. If you’re worrying about looking after your gear then you’re not focused on making the best photograph.

Because of this, I was slightly concerned that my switch from 1-series bodies to the new 5D mark II might come back to haunt me. While Canon suggest in the manual that the 5DII is as well sealed as the EOS 1n top-of-the-line film camera from the 1990s, reports on the interweb have suggested that the weather sealing on the 5DII is not very good at all. In particular, during Michael Riechmann’s photo tour of Antarctica, fully one quarter of the 5DIIs on the trip died after being exposed to “light rain”.

So after the first couple of months of putting the 5DIIs through their paces, I’m happy to report that mine seem to stand up reasonably well to abuse.

Firstly while shooting in the falling snow in London in February, the cameras got very wet with melting snow, but coped very well.

And more recently while shooting in Jamaica I spent a couple of hours was standing in the sea shooting models on the beach and riding horses through the surf.

On both occasions the waves were higher than I was expecting and when I got soaked, so did the camera - including the WFT wireless transmitter – on 3 separate occasions.

Although I feared for the worst, I’m delighted to report they both came through with flying colours, not missing a single shot.

So it would seem that once again, I have a set of cameras that, within reason, will withstand adverse conditions without any special treatment, which is a great relief.

Unfortunately my iPhone was not quite as tough, and failed to recover from a brief submergence!


  1. My take on the Riechmann report is that photographers were being careless about condensation. I came to this conclusion after one of the photographer's with a failed 5D mkII admitted on his blog that he would bring the camera in from the cold and change lenses, cards, and batteries without giving the body time to acclimate to the warmer temperature. He even noted that during one such session he could see condensation forming in the mirror box. He wondered at the time if he should have been more careful. He also noted that most of the others were doing the same.

    Once you take the lens off and open the doors no camera is weather sealed, nor can any of them handle condensation of the kind you would find in that environment. I'm surprised there weren't more failures given this kind of mistreatment.

  2. Yes condensation is a killer. I had to have the sensor in a 1Ds II replaced when consensation formed between the sensor and the AA filter. That resulted in a £1200 repair bill which luckily the insurance paid for.

    If I'm coming in from the cold, I leave my equipment in the camera bag so that it warms up slowly. Since then I've had no problems.

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