View Full Version : How rainproof are LF field cameras?

Ben R
25-Jul-2007, 03:01
What are you doing about rain in the field? I know that there are few elements in a field camera that won't work in the rain, it's not a DSLR computer with a lens bolted to it. On the other hand if water seeps through to the back of the GG it could be a problem (especially with mine as it has the fresnel on the back of it) and I've no idea how good LF lenses/shutters are at keeping the rain out. What are you using or how are you working during the rain?

25-Jul-2007, 03:15
Not as rainproof as I'd like... Heavy rain showers have ruined the blue-sky morning here.Someone mentioned on a previous thread about using a bin-bag over the camera.

If I were to even attempt to go out in this weather I'd probably place a tent or canopy thing over the camera. For reality's sake I'd buy one of those folding (compendium shade?) hoods to keep the rain off the lens, and cover the body of the camera with a plastic sheet. Likewise the back over the focusing cloth.

I'm not a fan of rain.

Walter Calahan
25-Jul-2007, 04:37
A very large, wind proof golf umbrella camped to a second tripod next to you LF camera is helpful. Unless the rain is blowing sideways.

Otherwise, don't get you camera wet.


Tim Brazelton
25-Jul-2007, 06:16
2 items live in my photo backpack:
1. Small clip on umbrella (http://www.rei.com/product/637802). You can clip it right onto the rail if it's not too windy. If there's any wind, I'll unclip it just for the exposure.
2. A rolled up large black garbage bag. Very small, very light. If it really gets nasty, I cover the whole camera on a tripod with with the bag. I set up the lens and a large compendium lens shade inside the bag, and then lift the bag up just enough to uncover the opening of the lens shade and the ground glass. Once the camera is set-up the bag can be pulled down and tied and can sit for hours in the rain while you wait for the best light.

Jim Jirka
25-Jul-2007, 07:39

Sometimes in the PNW waiting for the best light in the rain could be a 3 day proposition. :D

I use a clip-on umbrella, removing it if too windy and during exposure. Use a plastic bag when moving to different locations.

25-Jul-2007, 08:56
I'm a lot more worried about the lenses and shutters and film. The camera may not like the rain, but I can always bring it inside afterwards and dry it out and replenish some lube on the machined parts.

I've never worked out a good way to shoot in the rain. It hasn't come up enough to start messing with big umbrellas. But I keep a garbage bag inside my camera bag in case things get really grim ... I can put the gear away and then wrap the whole camera bag in plastic.

Joanna Carter
25-Jul-2007, 09:06
I've never worked out a good way to shoot in the rain...
Easy :) Find a partially derelict boathouse to shelter in and take this kind of picture.

6 seconds @ f/32 explains why you can't see the raindrops, only the satin sheen on the water.

25-Jul-2007, 09:30
Can't I just get my own derelict boathouse on ebay?

Jan Pietrzak
25-Jul-2007, 09:30
While working in the south west one year I used the poncho I was wareing to cover the camera. I put the camera in the hood part and the rest over the camera and tripod. It also work as a semi-darkcloth, I got soaked (the next day I bought a new one for me).

Jan Pietrzak

I do remember on that same trip. A photographer not tending to his camer and by the time they retrived it, some of the glue joint where coming apart.

Eric James
25-Jul-2007, 09:50
My camera - one of the Ebony's - has a cold shoe on the front standard. Ebony sells a devise that secures to the cold shoe and allows you to attach the GG protector to a positionable clamp. To the GG protector I have used Velcro to attach the smaller Ebony dark cloth; the cloth then covers the entire camera. This cloth is light, un-weighted and watertight - it can be used as a dark cloth but I only deploy it as described when it's threatening rain.

Jack Dykinga shows a plastic bed sheet package in his LF book - this isn't a bad why to go while you're getting things sorted.

For certain situations I think setting up inside a tent makes good sense. This would be time consuming and - of course - heavy, but this approach would be feasable if you expected wet conditions and had a special shot in mind. Moss once made shelters called Parawings (I think). They were light but required a pole and staking - it would be difficult to configure one of these to provide wind protection but you can erect them high enough to stand under. A self-supporting tent would also provide wind protection but the door or opening used would have to be situated high enough to compose your shot. Finally, Black Diamond once sold a light floorless pyramid-shaped tent with a high opening - I think it was called the Megamid.

Ben R
25-Jul-2007, 10:18
There are some umbrellas made to clip onto tripod legs, smaller than the one suggested above, the only ones I can find though screw into the tripod socket and then into the camera, couldn't think of something as inherently unstable as that. Actually come to think of it, any umbrella attached to the tripod is going to screw up the stability. I suppose some sort of garbage bag arrangement should work. What is it like being under a horribly damp and heavy soaked dark cloth trying to focus a camera under a plastic bag? I have a Kata rain cover for my DSLR which works like a dream but it would be impracticle for LF work even in a bigger size.

25-Jul-2007, 11:40
I live and photograph in a wet climate, but generally do not photograph in a medium or heavy rain. Usually a light rain is fine under the Redwoods...tho there will be some big drops coming down from 200+ feet occasionally.

What I have to watch out for is taking my 8x10 to a sunny area of the world. A few minutes with the bellow in the sun and I have a steam bath inside my camera. I usually start to notice that the image on the GG is starting to fuzz out, making focusing very difficult.

So I take the back off and the lens off (the rear element is all fogged up with moisture) and let the moisutue out.


Joanna Carter
25-Jul-2007, 13:07
Can't I just get my own derelict boathouse on ebay?
:D :D :rolleyes:

Chris Strobel
25-Jul-2007, 19:44
What about just getting an underwater housing for it :D

25-Jul-2007, 20:23
I'd look into the waterproof / water-resistant darkcloth option....saves you from bringing another item.....

Another thread somewhere had a photo of someone using some specialized cover for their LF camera to shoot in the rain....were they in Sweden? Norway? Seattle? Oregon? Somewhere where it looked cold and miserable. Photograph was amazing too. But whatever kind of cover they had was most impressive...


C. D. Keth
25-Jul-2007, 20:27
Easy :) Find a partially derelict boathouse to shelter in and take this kind of picture.

6 seconds @ f/32 explains why you can't see the raindrops, only the satin sheen on the water.

Rain makes about the prettiest diffusion filter. Where can I get a set in panavision size? :)

Anyway, I bought a cheapo poncho and cut a raincover for my camera. I just sort of tent it out in front of the lens and thread my cable release under it to the back of the camera. It's not easy to work like that, but it's cheap and replaceable.

26-Jul-2007, 03:43
This cloth is light, un-weighted and watertight

I can attest to this last attribute, having dropped my Ebony in a river. Fortunately, it wrapped itself in the Ebony darkcloth as it went in and was perfectly fine after a bit of drying out.

Pete Watkins
26-Jul-2007, 04:41
I don't go out photographing if it is chucking it down but if I get caught out all I really worry about is getting my lenses and shutters wet. The big camera is well protected with wax poiish and leather cream on the bellows, this treatment can be repeated when you get home and dry the camera out and the little Wista is treated with wax polish and the bellows have Pledge or whatevers handy on them. The rain just wipes off. However I do try to protect my gear as best as I can with my darkcloth.
Best wishes,

MIke Sherck
26-Jul-2007, 06:51
If it's pouring I'll look for somewhere sheltered to unpack the camera but otherwise, I'll either use my (somewhat) water-resistant focusing cloth to cover the camera, or one of the (disposable?) plastic ponchos I bought for $1 each at a flea market.

My focusing cloth is home-made and every few years I spray another coat of 3M waterproofing spray onto the white side. It's getting a little grungy now, though, and I'm trying to get my wife to sew me a new one, now that I've gotten her sewing machine all tuned up for her. Is it doing any good? Nah. I'll end up sewing this new one by hand, just like I did the old one... ;)


26-Jul-2007, 08:26
I keep a small beach umbrella in the truck. I set the tripod then the umbrella then the camera. It keeps everything out of the rain.

26-Jul-2007, 08:53
Mike, sewing machines are plain easy to use. I had to learn for my avce art course at college; the textiles unit required all sorts of un-manly tasks, but now I'm the sole user of a sewing machine at home - neither my mother nor my sister nor my father can use it.

Trust me, get some old fabric to try out on first, play about and get your wife to teach you how to control the damned machine (and thread the needle and refill a bobbin? thing), after that it'll be easier than setting up your camera on the tripod :)

Pete Watkins
26-Jul-2007, 10:10
There are times when I worry about you. You'll be giving lectures to W.I. branches soon.
Pete. (: