Exposed to the elements
Just how resistant are EOS cameras to rain? As far as we know, no one has carried out definitive tests. There are reports of cameras continuing to work after being used in heavy rain. Equally, there are reports of camera malfunctions after exposure to just a light shower.
So, how resistant is your EOS camera to the elements? Canon – and other camera manufacturers – are very quiet on the subject. Canon is working hard to seal some of its cameras against the elements, but you will find very little information on the subject. For example, the specification for the EOS-1D X Mark II says, ‘Water/Dust resistance: Yes’. Not very helpful.
So what to do? First, ask yourself how important it is for you to be out in the rain taking pictures. Professional photographers have a job to do, come hell or high water. If you are a non-professional shooter, you don’t have to be out there risking your expensive equipment. But if you enjoy braving the elements – and embracing the photographic opportunities it brings – what can your EOS take?
Sealing and seams
From time to time, Canon makes available images which show the water resistant seals on certain cameras. The images to the right are from the EOS 60D. We also have similar images for the EOS-1D Mark IV and the EOS 5D Mark III. The red areas indicate use of sealing materials, while the green lines show where seams have been aligned with high-precision.
You can see that there has been a lot of attention paid to buttons and switches – places where water could otherwise seep into the camera. As a rule-of-thumb, the more expensive the camera, the better the water resistance. The EOS-1D Mark IV will cope with rain much better than, say, the EOS 1300D.
Camera mount seal and lens gasket
Some EOS models are more resistant to water than others. Top of the list are the EOS-1D and 1Ds series cameras. Canon adds protective seals at vulnerable points – including the lens mount – to help resist water. The critical word here is ‘resist’. Canon does not guarantee that the seals stop water from entering the camera, only that they make it less likely.
Above, left to right: EOS 550D has no protective seal around the lens mount; EOS 7D Mark II features a rubber seal on the outside of the lens mount; Rubber gasket on EF 70-200mm f4L IS USM lens.
Also, these pro cameras only become sealed when a weather-resistant lens is used. Selected Canon lenses features a rubber gasket at the rear that mates with the rubber gasket surrounding the camera lens mount. Typically the lenses with this feature are L-series lenses.
The weak point of a weather-resistant lens is the front. Many photographers add a protective filter to add a further barrier to rain and water spray. A good UV filter is usually adequate.
The consumer EOS cameras (that’s those other than the professional EOS-1D and 1Ds series) are less well protected against heavy rain. Cameras with built-in flash have a weak point where the closed flash unit meets the camera body. The EOS 7D Mark II, 5D Mark III, 5D Mark IV, 60D, 70D and 80D are probably the best choices if you want a consumer model with improved weather-resistance.
Whatever the weather
Most cameras will usually cope with a light drizzle, providing you keep an absorbent towel handy to wipe away the water droplets as they form.
Snow is usually relatively harmless, as well. Again, have a towel handy to wipe away the snowflakes before they have time to melt. Just watch your battery life – your camera battery won't last as long when it's cold.
If you are caught in a rain storm, or even a shower, put a cover over the camera. If you are not taking pictures at that moment, protect the camera under your coat. If you want to carry on shooting, be prepared and consider investing in a purpose-made camera rain cover. Failing that a plastic carrier bag is better than nothing. Tear a hole in the bottom of the bag for the lens to peep through.
About this article
This article excerpt has been taken from the January-March 2017 issue of EOS magazine called 'Weather report'. You can get a copy of this issue via EOS shop.
We promise never to share your information
Like this? Learn more
about your EOS system
Join EOS magazine today
from only £24.95 a year
Wide range of affordable camera rain covers available from the EOS magazine shop.