Updated: Jul 8, 2021
How weather sealed is your gear?
So, it finally snowed in Guildford last Sunday, I think it was the first reasonable snow fall we have had in the last 10 years, normally we get a covering of white that disappears before you can even walk on it. Well, snow was forecast and it said we would get about 2-3 hours of good snow so I was ready, the Olympus M1X had the 300mm f4 Pro on it and I was taking my M1 mkiii with my 40-150mm f2.8 on it, I didn't really want to be changing lenses while I was out in snowy weather.
I was up at 6.30 Sunday and waiting, no snow...
Finally around 8-8.30 it was here, very fine and not particularly heavy though, so I waited...
It got heavier quite quickly, and the flakes got bigger, and bigger. So do I wait until it stops and go looking for that beautiful carpet of untouched snow? Not a chance, boots on, cameras, hat, coat and gloves and off I go into the blizzard.
As you can see it was really heavy, this is just a phone picture as I was walking along the river. There were flakes the size of golf balls and it was covering really well straight away. I headed along the River Wey to the local nature reserve as I hoped it wouldn't be too busy as it was still fairly early on a Sunday morning.
I got to the reserve and got the 40-150 out to begin with as I was thinking some nice landscape shots. By this time I was already quite wet, the snow was a lot heavier than I thought it would be and it was building up on my arms and camera every time I was taking a shot. At this point it didn't really cross my mind about the cameras being out in this weather, I know they're weather sealed so it should be fine, shouldn't it? I decided not to use the screens and stick with the eye piece, I was getting a bit of misting problems on the eye piece but nothing terrible.
It was looking great, I've been desperate to get some snow scenes as we hardly ever get snow, and you get a little jealous of other peoples shots when they get snow every year, I have to say I took a lot of shots that I didn't keep, I didn't want to miss anything and it was a new experience for me.
Focusing was an issue at times, the flakes were so big that they were distracting the AF, so not quite as many keepers as usual.
Even the ducks didn't look to be very happy out in these conditions.
There was more people than I expected out so I had to avoid people to get shots that were empty, even in lockdown on our daily exercise there doesn't seem to be a quiet time of day anymore.
After around an hour I decided to swap cameras so I could try and get a few wildlife shots, I use the Black Rapid straps on my cameras so they hang at your side when you're not taking a shot, I took the M1 off and the strap and camera were soaked, there was literally water dripping off the camera, I put it away in my bag and got my M1X out and set off again. I found it a little harder getting focus in the blizzard conditions with the longer lens, I think the AF gets distracted a bit easier on the longer lenses when there's more distance between you and the subject. I was using the M1X on pro capture, I didn't think the bird tracking would be as much use in this weather, especially as nothing was flying.
The wildlife was almost impossible to find, they obviously had much more sense than the idiot with the camera, they were probably tucked up sheltering somewhere nice and dry. I had been out for over two hours by this point, the snow was definitely slowing, I was absolutely soaked through, my hat and coat were really wet and even my jeans were soaked through.
I decided it was time to swap back to the M1, so I opened my bag to get the M1 out and found the inside of the bag soaked by this point, that's what happens when you put a soaking wet camera in it I guess... Cameras swapped and off I went again, the puddle in the bottom of the bag would have to wait. Having spent close to 3 hours out in pretty terrible conditions it crossed my mind that weather sealing may not really mean being soaked in snow, have I taken something for granted here? When I got the M1 back out of the bag and it was soaked I switched it on without really thinking, and it came on straight away, everything was working perfectly, I headed towards home by a different route so I could take some more shots of different views.
It was really a good mornings photography, I put both cameras back in the bag before I got home, as I don't like taking them straight into a warm house from being in the cold, I leave them in the bag to warm up gently, this hopefully prevents too much condensation forming in the camera and lenses. I took the memory cards out though so I could start editing as soon as I got warmed up and dried off. I had taken over 1000 shots, mainly because of having pro capture on, it's amazing how many you end up with when you use pro capture. After getting rid of all the duplicates and the out of focus shots I ended up with a nice selection of snow photos. When I went to get the cameras out of my bag later, thinking they would of warmed up, I soon realised that they had been sitting enclosed in all that water since I got in. So much for avoiding condensation completely... Anyway I dried them off and opened up the battery and memory card compartments to check for water, it was totally bone dry inside, not even any dampness.
In conclusion, Olympus weather sealing really does work, the batteries don't last as long in the cold but the camera keeps all the water out and doesn't miss a shot. I know with the added confidence this has given me in my equipment there won't be many weather situations that will stop me going out from now on, I probably should of been more careful to keep them dry, but it really didn't cross my mind until I had been out for some time, I just took weather sealed to mean just that. Would you of taken your camera out in that weather? would you use a waterproof cover?
Thanks for reading, more adventures to come soon. 😊