Protect Yourself: Camera Weatherproofing Basics
October 7, 2014
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Not all great photography happens in a studio or when it's 68 and sunny outside. Sometimes you're going to have to work in the rain, snow and every other thing Mother Nature can throw at you. Camera weatherproofing is an important skill all serious photographers needs in their arsenal because you never know when you're going to encounter extreme conditions. With that in mind, here's a look at some basics for protecting your gear from the elements.
Like any other piece of electronics, water is the mortal enemy of the camera. While many cameras can handle a reasonable amount of water — getting caught in a spring shower, for example — if you're going to be out in monsoon rains all day, it's better to keep your investment protected. Many companies make waterproof housings for cameras, and if you're planning on shooting underwater or while going whitewater rafting, these are an excellent choice.
If you're just looking for some insurance while out in the rain, however, turn to the kitchen for affordable camera weatherproofing. A one-gallon zip-top storage bag makes an excellent camera protector. Put the camera in the open end, cut a hole in the bottom for the lens and optionally tape the cut out opening to the lens barrel to seal the front. Then, simply stick your hands through the zipper opening to shoot, or even just push the shutter release through the bag. This is also an excellent way to protect against dust and sand, the perpetual enemies of clean digital camera sensors and lenses.
Filter for Safety
Speaking of lenses, every single lens you use should have at least a UV filter on it for protection. The front element on your lens is exposed to everything that the environment can throw at it, from water and dust to rocks and other solid debris. If your lens gets scratched, you're looking at an expensive repair; if a filter gets scratched or broken, you're out a couple of bucks. Using filters is a no-brainer.
Bag It Up
It's important to protect your gear against the elements when it's not in use, as well. If you do a lot of shooting in harsh environments, consider a camera bag that offers a waterproof cover and a rubberized bottom in case it ends up in a puddle. For the truly extreme, many hard cases will even stay dry inside if completely submerged and can stand up to the worst abuse airline baggage handlers can dish out. At the very least, use a bag with a padded bottom and dividers to keep your gear from banging around while carrying it.
Peace of Mind
No matter how much protection you provide your gear, sometimes it's just not enough. That's why it's wise to insure your camera equipment in some form or another. For the student or amateur who doesn't make the majority of their income from photography, this can be as simple as adding your gear to your renter's or homeowner's policy. For the working professional, this is not an option; however, specialized photo gear insurance is available, and some professional organizations offer insurance for working photographers. The Professional Photographers of America, for example, offer up to $15,000 of coverage free with your paid membership.
Photo credit: Flickr