What does "weather sealed" mean?

Started Jan 15, 2014 | Discussions thread
Gerry Winterbourne Forum Pro • Posts: 14,569
Re: What does "weather sealed" mean?

Jaysun wrote:

I don't expect that it means the camera is waterproof, but under what conditions would it be okay to shoot? A light drizzle? A heavy downpour?

You can get moisture from hot, humid conditions that aren't "weather". Many lenses extend/retract when focusing and/or zooming. This can pump warm, moist air inside the camera where it condenses. The pumping action creates pressure differential between inside and out and that pressure applies across all seals, not just those on the lens. So the first thing to realise about weather sealing is that it isn't intended to protect against those conditions.

So now we've got rid of what it can't, what it is intended to do is keep out water (and, usually, dust) that falls or is blown on to the camera-lens. I don't think the strength of the rain matters a lot; but you should avoid heavy wind driving the rain.

And what does it matter if the camera is weather sealed if the lens isn't? My lenses don't mention anything about being weather sealed, so if the camera can handle rain, that doesn't change the fact that my lens can't.

I use my sealed cameras with non-sealed lenses quite happily in conditions where I wouldn't use a non-sealed camera. I walk around with the lens pointing downwards except for the brief moment while I'm taking the shot. The back and sides of the camera get wet but safely resist it; the lenses aren't exposed long enough to be a problem. One important qualification: I don't have any lenses that extend more than a couple of mm; I wouldn't use a zoom lens or macro lens with long extension.

I don't know if the rain shows in the small image here but it does if you look at original size. I was out for a couple of hours that day. The only problem was the number of handkerchiefs I used to keep wiping off the lenses.

As you see, the rain was pretty vertical. Apart from wind pressure beating the seals, there's a problem if the rain blows onto the front element.

You can't actually see the rain in this one but the umbrellas tell the story.  About an hour in rain that day.

Do people buy lenses that are water resistant? I've never seen that as an option.

Yes.  Other replies have explained about Nikkor lenses.  My philosophy is that if I want a lens I buy it; if it comes with WR that's a bonus.  About 1/3 of my lenses are WR.

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First camera 1953, first Pentax 1985, first DSLR 2006

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