Do I Need a Weather Resistant Camera?

I have been thinking about how to increase the number of things, the times, and the places that I photograph.  One of the most obvious things to try is to expand into taking pictures in bad weather and in low light.  This would significantly increase my opportunities for photography this coming winter.  I took the above images with two different cameras a little after six am one rainy morning.

If I were to buy another camera better suited to such photography, I would prefer a small, weather resistant (WR), sturdy, discreet camera with a good sensor and lens for low light photography.  I would prefer a design that is an extension of my hand; i.e. a camera to be carried in my hand at my side and then brought up, turned on, focused, and fired quickly while out walking in bad weather.  While I would like it to be light-weight and small, I still would want it to have a good grip and a good viewfinder.  I want a viewfinder since I don’t want the LCD all lit up when on the street in a dark environment and I want to be able to easily and constantly change the exposure since this is a necessity in low light.  Since some cameras don’t focus as well in really low light, it would also need to have the capability for manual focusing.

The camera described above does not exist.  The closest, least expensive DSLR is probably the Pentax K-50 which I had and sold.  I sold it in hopes of finding something lighter and smaller, but I am still waiting for someone to make one.  The next smallest WR camera is the Nikon 1 AW1 but it is more expensive, has lower image quality (especially in low light), has no viewfinder, and doesn’t have a good grip.  It also costs more since it is water-proof and can be taken underwater and I don’t need that feature.

My options are to wait until someone makes what I want or to reduce my desires and obtain the best compromise.  Among existing options in WR cameras, I could get the Nikon 1 AW1, the Olympus E-M5 or E-M1, another Pentax DSLR, or a Fujifilm X-T1 with WR lenses.  None of the other WR options are as close to being affordable or meeting my desires; but, does it have to be WR?  Just how much will I use it in the rain or snow?

Another possibility is to get a camera that is not WR and then only use it from sheltered locations or cover it with a plastic bag when walking in the rain.   I am currently considering this approach if it helps me get better low-light, wide-angle images; i.e. the solution overlaps some of my other desires.  I managed carrying my Olympus camera under my rain jacket when in Ireland and then only using in sheltered situations or between showers.

For test purposes, I took the above leaf picture with an Olympus Tough water-proof small sensor camera (jpeg only) and the other two from the shelter of my porch with the Olympus E-PL5 and 17 mm lens manually focused at infinity.  For the time being I will continue to use these and photograph from sheltered locations while I keep looking for a better solution.

One comment

  1. John from Boston

    I had a K-30 for a while, and never took advantage of the weather resistance. I’ve had other non-WR cameras and used them in falling snow and very light rain with no trouble at all. I concluded that I’d leave WR off my requirements list and use freezer bags or similar if I really wanted to shoot during precipitation. I suspect there are some good 3rd party solutions for purchase too. On the other hand, several years ago I was at a local botanical garden during moderate rain (heritagemuseumsandgardens.org) and I noticed two photographers strolling around. They had their cameras on tripods that were propped on their shoulders and their equipment was fully exposed to the rain with no worries. I thought that was very cool and was a bit jealous. Part of the issue is buying the WR lenses, both expense and selection. I have a small set of non-WR m43 and Pentax lenses that I like and I can’t justify buying more for my typical usage. If I’m out with my camera and I suspect any chance of rain, I crumple up a plastic supermarket bag and stick it in my back pocket. If I get caught off guard, I might personally get soaked, but at least I’ve got a quick emergency method of protecting my camera.

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