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|Vortex Media Storm Jacket|
Some people leave the camera at home when the weather forecast calls for a 40% chance of rain. That's one way to make sure it never gets wet. Others toss a couple of extra-large trash bags into their backpack when they head out for a shoot under questionable climatic conditions. The one thing that's certain about the weather is that you can never be certain about the weather. But don't lose a day's shooting just because there could be showers. There are a number of very reasonably priced accessories that can keep you snapping, even in a downpour.
Choosing the right protective gear is straightforward and largely a matter of personal preference. Some outfits are more comfortable to use than others, so hands-on inspection is important. Cameras—especially lenses—come in different sizes, so make sure the rain cover you buy accommodates your largest equipment. And if you plan to use a tripod, be sure there's an opening in the appropriate place to make the connection.
Camera Duck SLRB
One word of warning: None of the protective systems can be expected to be 100% effective under all weather conditions. Common sense tells us that the solution that works perfectly during a spring shower won't necessarily deliver the same level of protection in a hurricane. That means you're taking a chance—albeit a small one—even with the most effective protective gear.
Gloves for your camera? Well, sort of. Delkin's Snug-It Pro DSLR Camera Skin fits like a glove and protects your camera from bumps and bruises, as well as the weather. Designed to fit your camera model exactly, right down to the smallest detail, Camera Skins are constructed of a non-tacky, powder-infused silicone. The surface is easy to grip and has ridges that provide extra protection against impact. It's easy to install, and you maintain access to all camera controls and buttons. Snug-It Pro DSLR Camera Skins also prevent scratches and other damage to the LCD display, and feature protective molding around the hot-shoe attachment and lens mount. Estimated Street Price: $36 (Canon EOS 5D Mark II); $20 (Nikon D300S).
Think Tank Photo Hydrophobia 70-200
Think of it as a protective overcoat for your camera and 70-200mm zoom. The Think Tank Photo Hydrophobia 70-200 keeps your camera safe and dry regardless of the weather. It features an external camera strap, so there's no need to remove the strap attached to the camera body, a transparent back window that allows you to view the LCD and camera controls, and a lens hood cover that protects the front of your lens. It's compatible with all monopods and small- to medium-sized tripod heads, and comes with a handy mesh bag for easy transportation and storage. Nice touch: You can change batteries and memory cards without removing the rain cover. The Hydrophobia requires an eyepiece, which is available separately. Estimated Street Price: $139.
OP/Tech USA Rainsleeve
For less rigorous use or to have on hand for emergencies, the OP/TECH USA Rainsleeve is inexpensive insurance that everyone should have tucked in their camera bags. It's made of a pliable, durable plastic that collapses for easy storage and can be used while shooting handheld or on a tripod. It uses a drawstring to provide a snug fit on virtually any lens. The drawstring enclosure fits lenses up to seven inches in diameter and up to 18 inches in length. Rainsleeves are sold in packages of two. There's also a Rainsleeve-Flash version that's large enough to accommodate most popular shoe-mount flash units. Estimated Street Price: $6 (Rainsleeve); $8 (Rainsleeve-Flash).
Constructed from high-tech Aqua-Nylon fabric, Vortex Media Storm Jacket Camera Covers are popular because of their lightweight and rugged construction. They install quickly and easily, providing complete protection against rain, snow or harmful UV. They fold neatly for travel and store in an included pocket-sized carrying case. Storm Jacket Camera Covers are available in five sizes, four colors and two models to suit every SLR. The camouflage version also provides concealment when you're sitting in a blind or stalking wildlife. All models include bungee closures at each end. The PRO Model has a Velcro® opening on the bottom to accommodate a lens-mounted tripod or monopod. Estimated Street Price: $36 to $59.
Think Tank Photo
The Camera Duck SLRB All Weather Cover is designed to protect a digital SLR camera and lens up to about 200mm from light rain, snow, dust and cold weather down to about 10° F. It's made of waterproof ripstop nylon and features mesh pockets that can hold up to four air-activated warmer packs (sold separately), which makes it a great choice for colder climates. The warmer packs, which provide up to 24 hours of gentle heat, can be resealed and reused. Estimated Street Price: $119.
The Kata E-702 Pro Light Rain Cover slips quickly over a pro-sized camera and lens (up to 200mm) through the zippered bottom. Two spacious side sleeves provide easy access to all camera controls, and a transparent protective window allows visual access to the LCD. An adjustable stiff hood fits a variety of lens diameters. Camera operation remains exactly the same when using the E-702 because your hands touch the camera directly. Estimated Street Price: $69.
Taking an entirely different approach, the Probrella DSLR camera protection system protects your camera from the sun, rain or light snow. The unique mounting mechanism rotates 360º to provide complete adjustability. Available in two sizes, the smaller Popabrella 100 fits all compact still and video cameras and attaches to the tripod socket. The Probrella 200, with its 22-inch wingspan, fits all DSLRs and larger video cameras. Estimated Street Price: $19 (Popabrella); $29 (Probrella).
Is an underwater housing the answer? Custom-fit housings are available for many cameras, including a number of popular point-and-shoot models. They're more expensive than any of the solutions mentioned here, and they're typically large and boxy. On the plus side, they're fully submersible and perfect for swimming pools and snorkeling—and ideal for skiing and canoeing.