Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shoot in the Rain with the Right Rain Gear (Update)

I live in Tsawwassen British Columbia Canada which is in the Vancouver area. Vancouver is a bit of a rain capitol and although we get much less rain in Tsawwassen than does Vancouver, we still get our fair share. For the photographer rain poses many issues the least of which is potential water damage to camera gear.

Over the many years I have tried many different rain covers and other protective devices to keep rain at bay including the trusty large garbage bag. To this day I still carry a large clear bag in my camera pack in case of foul weather or to protect my camera from ocean or waterfall spray.

Although a large plastic bag works to protect your gear, it does have its drawbacks. Generally bags are not clear and so seeing your camera and settings may be impossible. If you do have a clear bag, it is usually not optically very clear but rather just translucent.

Even if you manage to find a good quality 'clear' bag, it tends to wear out and tear after some time. If it happens to tear during a shoot it may spoil your shoot completely. Duct tape repairs do not work well on wet bags in the rain and you wouldn't want to risk water damaging your gear.

Another issue with bags is the flimsiness of the bag. It tends to lay on top of and can even stick to your gear as condensation builds up inside the bag. On very windy days the home made plastic bag contraptions are next to impossible to use.


OpTechRainCover
Image from OpTech USA

Like I mentioned I have tried other devices including the OpTech Rainsleeve. The 'Rainsleeve' is not much more than a plastic bag with a drawstring at one end. The bag in general does not appear to be designed for a DSLR camera as I could barley fit my 50D with Battery grip into it. Once inside the bag there was no room left for even one of my hands. The drawstring is another issue with this product as it does not work well on a lens hood that is bevelled such as those on wide angle lenses. A disappointing product.

RainCover
My Canon 40D.

I purchased another contraption from eBay called "Digital Camera Rain Dust Cover" that sells for about $15.00 U.S. This product is a contraption. It does come nicely packed into two separate pouches. One for the two piece armature that needs to be snapped together and then attached to your cameras Hot Shoe (Danger Will Robinson). The second pouch stores the plastic cover. The cover is better thicker proper plastic that will not wear like the OpTech plastic bag material.

The cover attaches using Velcro tabs and the armature is telescopic and can adjust its length to work with various size lenses. It should accommodate a lens up to 200mm. All in all it does work but it is rather hokey. I do not like the fact that it attaches to the Hot Shoe but for the price it works. There is even ample room for both my hands as pictured in the above photo. I am not sure I would want to assemple this and attach it to a camera on a stormy day.

As I needed to find a better solution I kept looking and saw that Tenba sold a rain cover, the RC-18 Rain Cover. This product looked promising at first. The material was heavy duty but not 'clear'. Doing my homework I checked out reviews of this product on Amazon and on other sites and based on mostly bad reviews I chose not to buy it.

KataBag
My Canon 40D with Standard 24-105mm Lens.

While checking out the Tenba reviews I stumbled upon the Kata E-702 Rain Cover. Based on the good reviews I went to my local photo shop and checked it out. It appeared to be very well made and well designed so I purchased it and ordered the optional E-704 Lens Sleeves. These optional sleeves are not required for most standard lenses and the main cover should accommodate most 200mm lens.

After bringing it home I tried it out on my Canon 50D with Battery Grip and my standard 24-105mm Lens. Attaching the back to the camera was simple. The Draw Bungy String pulls tight around the neck of the lens as opposed to the hood and a heavy semi rigid material wraps around the hood and Velcro's into place. The bottom has two separate zipper that closes the main opening tight or tight against your tripod.

KataE702Rear
Kata Image.

Using the Kata E-702 Elements Cover is simple by means of the two large arm/hand openings that also protect your hands from bad weather. These hand sleeves also have Draw Bungy Strings so that you can make them snug. The bag also works well when used vertically. Once you have your hands inside there is plenty of room for both your hands to get at all your cameras knobs, dials and buttons. You can also see all the camera because of the well integrated plastic window. Even with the Battery Grip on the camera there is still plenty of room for both hands.

The Kata E-704 Lens Extension Kit is a lens cover extension kit that comes with two separate long lens sleeves and a separate hand sleeve. One is designed for lenses up to 350mm and the other for lenses up to 650mm. You can attach then hand sleeve to any part of the lens sleeves so that you can have direct access to the focusing rings on any lens.

I have looked at other options including the "Hydrophobia 300 - 600", the "FotoSharp Camera Rain Cover", the AquaTech Sports Shield" and the "Lightware Rain Cover" and I think that for the money, for the usability and comfort of use, the Kata System is the best.

Although it is a little larger to store than a garbage bag, I feel much more comfortable knowing my expensive gear is better protected than a 25 cent bag. Using this cover in the rain has been great and overall I give this product a 5 out of 5 rating.

Pricing on the Kata system is not cheap but then again you are wanting to properly protect expensive equipment. Properly taken care of the Kata Rain Cover should last many years.

Street prices have dropped recently and the E-702 sells on Amazon.com (as of January 23rd, 2009) for only $38.67. The two links below will send you to Amazon.com and the third link will send you to Kata.

Rating -  5 Out Of 5  - Highly Recommended.
Buy - Kata E-702 Large Digital SLR Camera Raincover
Buy -
Kata E-704 Lens Extension Kit
Kata Home Page -
www.kata-bags.com

2013.03.13 Update - Thanks for the update. Yes, at this time the E-702 at Amazon is now $59.90 (as of March 2013) and the E-704 is $63.46. Note that I have purchased two knock offs for testing and I have found a problem with the Kata unit which is why I have looked at other units. I have found that over time the clear plastic used by Kata as a window gets milky. Not sure if the plastic is actually milky or if its just minor abbrasion on the plastic. My Kata bag has alway been handled with care and always in a protective bag when not in use. I have sent a letter to Kata and will report back. I will also be updating this post when I have more answers and when I have reviewed the two other units.

See the original post here along with some reader's comments.

© 2013 Francois Cleroux

(Version 1.11 - March 2013)

Please feel free to leave comments, corrections, ideas, thoughts or suggestions.


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I value thoughtful comments and suggestions. If you like or dislike this post, please let me know. If you have any ideas or suggestion, comments or corrections (I do make mistakes) please also let me know. Thanks.

- Francois Cleroux