When we travel, rain or shine, our visits to parks, historic locations, museums, and other locations continue. Travelers get out umbrellas, rain coats, and other foul weather gear and trudge on.
Unfortunately, when it rains, many travelers leave their cameras at the hotel, or at best, put them in their pockets, except for indoor photos. I'm well aware that even inexpensive DSLR cameras and lenses aren't “cheap,” and if they're caught in a storm, they could be ruined. Not only would that be expensive, you wouldn't have their use for the remainder of your trip.
But it would be a shame to be in a spectacular travel location, and have your camera put away, unable to capture amazing indelible memories. You need a great “rain coat” for your camera/lens so you won't miss photographing those memories.
TIP: I've discovered a great rain protector for many Point and Shoot cameras. The Ewa-Marine D-SW Underwater Housing is a waterproof bag with an optically neutral flat glass port through which you take your photos. It's great to use when you're in the rain, or when kayaking, canoeing, or rafting.I've been examining the leading rain covers for DSLR cameras in the last few months. In preparing this review I've done some extensive testing of the better products. The DSLR rain covers in this review are:
- Tenba RC Rain Cover Series
- Fotosharp Pro Rain Cover
- Laird Rain Hood Series
- Optec Rainsleeve and Optec Weatherguard
- Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket
- Kata E-702 GDC Elements Cover with E-704 GDC Extension Kit
- Aqua Tech Sport Shield Professional Rain Cover Series
- Think Tank Photo Hydrophobia Series
I examined the Fotosharp Pro Rain Cover ($26) for DSLRs with 18-200mm lenses, or shorter. It stores very small, so it's easy to take on trips. Unfortunately, it's not very strong and it's difficult to use. I'd describe it as a “shower cap.”
The Laird Rain Hood Series ($50–$90) is made from waterproof 420D nylon. It comes with wind guard straps and velcro closures. It's somewhat form fitting and cut loosely enough to have access to the camera's controls. While the Laird series is superior to the Tenba and Fotosharp rain protection, the Laird series is still somewhat difficult to use, for access to camera controls, and zoom lens settings access is even harder.
The Optec Rainsleeve ($7) is “see-through” and formfitting. It's very easy to use and access to camera controls is great. It's hard to use with zoom lenses, as it's so tight. The cover itself is far too flimsy to be dependably waterproof.
The Optec Weatherguard ($80) is a far more heavy duty product than the Rainsleeve. It gives easy access to the camera's controls, but is not at all suitable for use with zoom lenses. Unfortunately the Weatherguard doesn't adequately protect the camera if there is even the slightest breeze.
I've used the Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket ($50–$59) for a long time. It's well made from “aqua-nylon” waterproof fabric. It has bungee cords and velco to close its openings around the camera and a tripod. Even though it's a sleeve you can still use it with zoom lenses. but you'll have to keep the cover a bit loose on the lens. The product doesn't have built-in viewer. I recommend this cover for emergencies since it takes little room in your bag. You never know when an unexpected storm might hit.
The Kata E-702 GDC Elements Cover with E-704 GDC Extension Kit ($116) was my main rain cover for about a year. It's form fitting and gives excellent access to camera controls, zoom lenses, and your tripod controls. Unfortunately I found that the viewer cover scratches easily which eventually made it difficult to use. It also doesn't fold up small, so taking it on a trip was far from ideal.
Until recently, the Aqua Tech Sport Shield Professional Rain Cover Series ($190–$260) was considered the best rain covers available by most reviewers. It is well manufactured, and is definitely waterproof. With its own eyepiece which screws or slides directly on the camera, it solves the main problem of the Kata. It's a bit on the tight side and isn't as easy as it should be to use camera controls and have access to tripod controls.
I've saved the best for last. The Think Tank Photo Hydrophobia Series ($174–$185) is without peer for DSLR/lens rain protection. Like the Aqua Tech covers it's form-fitting, highly waterproof, and has its own eyepiece. The smaller cover gives excellent access to the camera and lens controls, plus tripod when used. The larger cover will even fit a lens mounted on a gimbal mount head on a tripod, and give excellent access to use it. Each cover folds remarkably tight for easy travel. I recommend the Hydrophobia series without any reservations.