Weather sealing usefulness?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by jamespetts, Oct 3, 2016.

  1. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    I am somewhat intrigued by this subject. When I first bought my E-m1, I had not thought that I should find weather sealing useful: I am not a fan of being outside in inclement weather, and in all the time that I had has an E-P3, I had no occasion to use such a feature (a plastic rain proof cover that I bought for it in 2012 being unused to thus day); yet I have found occasional use for weather sealing now that I have it: on a glacier in Iceland with constant rain, near the base of a large waterfall creating spray or in a (very short) downpour at a nature reserve. Even so, the usefulness seems a little marginal: in heavy rain or spray, the front element gets covered on droplets ruining photographs taken until it is cleaned, and in all but heavy rain, a non weather sealed camera can be stored under a jacket to emerge to take a photograph as necessary without injury.

    Despite this, weather sealed lenses seem very much to be in demand. When do people use this feature?
     
  2. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    With a big hood on most tele lenses the front element is protected from the weather, so one is unlikely to get droplets on the lens.

    For me the benefit of weather sealing is not really so much shooting in the rain, although I have done this, it is the ability to shoot and not worry about the equipment. From a moving boat, in very cold weather etc.

    One lens I really wish they would re-issue weather sealed is the 75f1.8.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
  3. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Interesting. The size of the hood depends, of course, on the lens: the 12-40mm's hood does little to discourage droplets, and that is among the most useful of all lenses.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  4. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    I pretty much only buy weather sealed gear because I love shooting in the rain. When planning my photography outings if it is going to rain on one day of the weekend and not the other I always pick the day it is raining. You can get some of the most amazing light when it is raining/storming and it cannot be duplicated any other way. For me, that light is magical and gives photographs a different look that I personally really like.

    As @nstelemark@nstelemark stated, telephoto lenses with large hoods work great for keeping the rain off the front of the lens. When it is raining I am very careful about only pointing the lens strait or down, never up. Not because I am worried about my gear but because I just don't want to have to find a dry place to clean the front of the lens.

    I also rely on the weather sealing for other accidents, like when I drop my camera in the swamp. I hate straps and never use them and on a few occasions my EM1 w/ ZD 150mm ƒ2.0 have gone into the swamp. They have gone anywhere from a few inches to a 2 feet into the water and survived every time, usually only for 15-30 seconds as I try to get them out asap. The Olympus weather sealing is one of the reason I came to the system, them and Pentax have some of the best selling in the industry.

    I am always doing things like this with me gear. It is sitting on a skimmer pod with a ball head, all under water. Yes, this location required me to lay in the water to get the photograph I was after.
    28858892420_dcea23a841_h.
    EM1 w/ ZD 50-200 SWD
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Or this, but in this case the Bower fisheye lens is not weather sealed but I did not really worry about anything (was trying to get baby gator photos with the fisheye lens).
    29353791902_4bd7cb0d6e_h.
    EM1 w/ Bower 7.5mm Fisheye
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Here are a few videos I shot just to demonstrate the kind of rain I will shoot in.

    28716066290_709ca4ac53_b.
    Rainy Day of Shooting
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    28385180633_b725603d95_b.
    GBH
    by RRcoleJR Photography, on Flickr

    Those stupid bags aka camera condoms are just a pain in the ass. You can't mover around the woods with one on the camera without it getting caught on something then ripping, which pretty much ends your shooting. I would never buy a lens I was going to use for wildlife or sports that was not weather sealed.

    For you maybe, I have very little desire for that lens or focal length. I like my extremes: telephoto and fisheye are pretty much all I shoot, with the occasional 17mm (which will be come significantly less when I get the new 25mm Pro).
     
    • Informative Informative x 4
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Ahh - you are an excellent example of someone for whom weather sealing is just perfect! I do like your allegator, bird and swamp pictures, and I can see that weather sealing would be quite the priority for the sort of thing that you do.

    An interesting perspective - thank you!
     
  6. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    Incidentally, how do you get on with the 50-200mm and EC-20? I tried that combination once (I own the 50-200, albeit not the SWD version, and hired the EC-20 to go with a 300mm f/2.8 which I also hired) and found the photographs lacking in sharpness quite severely with it.
     
  7. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    Thank you and you are welcome. I am not sure I would enjoy photography as much if I did not have weather sealed gear that I trusted. Not just for the rain but also all the other stuff I put my gear thru.

    When I first got my EM1 I got the 50-200 SWD and EC-14 within the same week. Then a bit later I picked up the 150/2 and EC-20 and have hardly used the SWD since. I have only used the 50-200 w/ EC-20 on three occasions. The first was just after getting the 150/2 and I took everything to the zoo to take some test shots. The 2nd and 3rd times were specifically to test out that combo in the field. Honestly, I am pretty amazed with how well the combo actually performs. My biggest complaint is not being able to shoot at ISO 200 and keep a high shutter speed (both times it was partly to mostly cloudy, which makes it even darker in the swamps). With my lens I found the sharpness to more then adequate and on a few occasions impressed.

    Here I documented my 1st time using it in the field - A day with the ZD 50-200 SWD and EC-20

    Here I documented my 2nd time in the field - A day with my 300/4 and 100-400

    Here is my flickr album with all the photos from the two threads as well as the ones from the zoo (full resolution photos) - https://www.flickr.com/photos/rrcolejr_photography/albums/72157664484810922

    Here are links to all my threads documenting my experiences with 4/3 lenses - Using the EM1 with 4/3 Lenses for Sports/Action/Wildlife Photography
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
  8. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere

    280
    Aug 19, 2016
    Burnaby, BC
    I use my camera rain or shine and find weather sealing comforting if not useful. I use an e-m1 these days but never shied away from using any camera in the rain... to no ill effect. So maybe placebo effect?

    As to rain on the front element ruining a photo that is nonsense, see:
    Dirty lens article
     
  9. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    I am afraid that it is not nonsense that rain drops can ruin a photograph: I have had pictures that I have taken at waterfalls look like they were taken through a car window without windscreen wipers on a rainy day, and pictures on the glacier beset by obvious smudges and watery unsharp areas corresponding to the position of droplets.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    • Agree Agree x 3
  11. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    The water does not have to be on the lens to make an image soft either. I was looking at a few recent shots thinking wow not as sharp as I would like and then when I looked at 100% I realized why:

    Screen Shot 2016-10-03 at 8.04.05 PM.
     
  12. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    There's a movie in which one of the characters remarks that a gun is like a condom, she'd rather have one with her and not need it that not have one with her and need it. I think weather sealing is like that. It's very useful to have when you need it and it's not a problem having it when you don't need it.

    On the other hand you're really in trouble if you don't have weather sealing and you do need it.

    I'm 69 and for most of my photographic life I did not use weather sealed photographic equipment and I never had a problem. I simply avoided shooting in situations where I needed weather sealing. Unfortunately I did lend a camera to a friend at one time around 1970 for a trip he was making to Cape York, the northernmost tip of Australia. He got there, waded out into the sea to take a photo looking back at the tip of the cape, cut his foot on an oyster shell on the sea floor, and dropped my camera into the sea. Goodbye Pentax Spotmatic, it did not survive immersion. At least I had it insured so I got a replacement.

    I have 2 bodies, one with weather sealing and one without. Most of my lenses are not weather sealed. If I'm going out with a camera and the forecast is for rain I'll make sure everything is weather sealed because it makes sense to do so, otherwise I use what I feel like using at the time. Now that I have weather sealed options I deliberately choose them for that reason when it makes sense to do so because it's an extra level of protection if the weather goes bad. If I didn't have any weather sealed equipment I'd take some other precaution if the weather looked bad but other precautions means doing things like carrying some kind of waterproof bags and so on and using weather sealed equipment is easier. I didn't buy my E-M1 and my PRO series lenses for their weather sealing but I'm happy to make use of that feature when it's handy to do so.
     
    • Like Like x 3
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  13. TheMenWhoDrawSheeps

    TheMenWhoDrawSheeps Mu-43 Regular

    156
    Jun 15, 2016
    Never needed weather sealing in my life. My pentax k-x died from corroded contacts though. But i was sure glad to have weather sealing on em5ii and 12-40mm as i got caught up by a storm on a tour in the mountains. I even got a bit scared, because even my camera bag got drenched - but camera kept working even under those conditions. Now, i even regret that Olympus has not so many wr primes.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Informative Informative x 1
  14. retiredfromlife

    retiredfromlife Mu-43 Veteran

    370
    May 15, 2016
    Syndey, Australia
    Even though some people get very good results using these weather resistant cameras I would keep it in mind if you do damage it through water that you may be out of warranty. The weather proofing will degrade over time as you do not replace seals like water proof gear.

    I really like Phocal's shots, he pushes the limits of gear the most I have seem on this forum. Olympus should use him as an ambassador for their gear.

    But still better to have it than not.

    Regards
     
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Giiba

    Giiba Something to someone somewhere

    280
    Aug 19, 2016
    Burnaby, BC
    Fair enough there is a point of too much, but a quick wipe with a lens cloth would take care of that no harm done. I can say I've never found myself shooting with that much spray coming at me... rain is typicaly a vertical thing and I make a point of using a hood.

    I think the spray adds to that photo, sharpness isn't everything. I like that pic and the action is shows.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  16. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    There are a couple filter companies that sell filters with water-repellent coatings which are supposed to shed water quickly. One is called MRC.
    I'm not sure if they actually work.
     
  17. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry
    Btw, saltwater spray can be horrible even with weather sealing.
     
    • Agree Agree x 3
  18. NoSeconds

    NoSeconds Mu-43 All-Pro

    My EM1 copped a saltwater squirt from an octopus the other day, while I was walking/wading the sandflats and reef at low tide about 500m from shore. I was camping pretty rough at the beach and didn't have any facility to clean it properly until I got home the next day.

    I'm pretty sure that my GM1 would have died a horrible lingering death from the same treatment...
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  19. alex g

    alex g Mu-43 Top Veteran

    553
    Mar 30, 2016
    New York / Bath
    It's probably worth mentioning that weather-sealing is as much about keeping out dust as it is about keeping out water. There are parts of the World where it's pretty much impossible to avoid exposing gear to significant amounts of the kind of very fine dust which just loves to work its way into precision mechanisms, particularly camera dials and zoom/focus rings. Good weather-sealing is invaluable under such conditions.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 2
  20. jamespetts

    jamespetts Mu-43 Top Veteran

    803
    May 21, 2011
    London, England
    I did clean the lens with a cloth, but it became coated again in seconds.

    Even the previous day when it was raining on a glacier, the lens got so wet as to show large smudges of blur, and there was grit in the water meaning that cleaning had to be so careful as to make it hard to do on the top of a glacier in the rain.