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When you're out shooting in wintery weather, the first rule to remember is that snow is dust—until it melts. There's always debate about keeping the camera and batteries warm to keep them functioning. This is certainly important in extreme temperatures, but if you're shooting in more moderate, but still below-freezing conditions, your camera probably doesn't need any special attention. To make sure you're adequately powered, you can keep extra batteries in a warm pocket and change them out as necessary. By keeping the camera itself at ambient temperature, you ensure that any snow that comes into contact with it can be quickly dusted off without any drama.
That's all well and good for clear days or even falling snow, but what do you do when there's nastier precipitation? While you're probably not going to be shooting photos in driving sleet or freezing rain, it's easy to get caught in fast-changing conditions, so if you're out shooting in winter mist or just before a storm, some extra protection for your camera is in order.
Kata E-702 PL Pro Light Rain Cover
The Kata E-702 PL Pro Light Rain Cover is a perennial favorite because of its lightweight construction and excellent camera protections. Made from waterproof fabric and clear thermoplastic polyurethane, the cover is secured by drawstrings. It can fit a variety of lenses, and you can use it while handholding your camera or when shooting from a tripod.
ewa-marine is usually associated with ocean spray and beach sand, but their Photo Rain Capes are excellent choices for December's rain, sleet and snow. The ewa-marine C-AF100 Hurricane Hood Photo Rain Cape is a flexible, clear cover that's made from PVC material and has a flat glass "port" built in. It can hold a DSLR and a lens up to 8 inches long. The lens attaches to the clear glass port via a 77mm adapter ring.
The OP/TECH Rainsleeve is an 18-inch polyethylene sleeve that will safely cover your DSLR and a lens. This budget-minded sleeve is sold in pairs, and because each pair only costs about $6, some pros keep a supply in their camera bags at all times to act as disposable covers for grimy conditions. You can shoot from a tripod or handholding the camera with the OP/TECH Rainsleeve.
Beyond having a camera cover of some kind, we suggest that you always carry a clean microfiber towel. These incredibly convenient items are super-absorbent and nearly lint-free. You can wipe down any drops of water that land on your camera body or lens barrel in an instant.
For keeping the lens itself clean and free of water drops, you have a few options. If you know the conditions are going to be wet, a high-quality skylight filter is a good idea. You'll keep any moisture off your lens elements, and the filter will cut haze slightly. If water drops get on the filter, use a microfiber lens-cleaning cloth to gently wipe the glass. Be sure that your microfiber lens-cleaning cloth is dedicated for use on optics. The towel that you use for the camera body and lens barrel isn't the same one to use on glass surfaces.
Another reason to use a filter on your lens in winter weather is to protect the multicoating. There are stories about photographers who breathed on a lens to clean it, and in very cold temperatures, the multicoating actually cracked as the moisture from their breath instantly froze on the lens surface. Using a filter is extra protection for your lens optics in winter.