Shooting in the rain: a long, soggy reflection on Pentax versus Canon

Started Apr 25, 2014 | Discussions thread
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bkpix Contributing Member • Posts: 746
Shooting in the rain: a long, soggy reflection on Pentax versus Canon

Hi all,

I spent much of yesterday shooting outdoors in the most miserably rainy, muddy conditions I've experienced with a camera — crawling around a steep clear-cut in the Pacific Northwest, taking photos of stumps.

Stumps? You betcha. I'm nearing the end of a week-long artist residency at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon. It was here, back in the 1970s, that scientists began to realize that old-growth forests had more biological value than do tree plantations — and eventually convinced the Forest Service to change its policy of cutting them all as fast as possible.

An old growth grove at the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest in Oregon

Back to that rainy clear-cut. I've been on the fence for a while about whether to stick with Pentax gear or move to Canon. Pentax has been lovely to shoot with but it has some flaws, chief among them its lame autofocus and some reliability issues. So to make myself entirely miserable I've been shooting for the past few months (ever since an Antarctic trip last winter) with a dual system: Pentax K-5 bodies and DA* lenses, on one hand, and a Canon 6D with some L glass, on the other.

The stump from an old-growth tree cut half a century ago.

Since I've been here at the Andrews I've been shooting with the two systems on alternating days. Here's what I've begun to realize, about shooting in the rain and about shooting two systems:

  • Both systems are fine. This goes without saying. Choosing between them almost comes down to a flip of a coin. Almost.
  • Stumbling autofocus from Pentax may drive me crazy if I keep shooting with a Canon every other day. There's just no excuse… Why is that a rain issue? Because you're a lot less patient when you're cold and wet.
  • You don't get to change lenses when it's pouring rain and you're a mile from the car.
  • Lens hoods are a must. As are soft dry kerchiefs in your pocket.
  • I feel a lot better walking around in the pouring rain all day with Pentax over my shoulder than I do with Canon. That said, there have been no disasters despite everything getting very wet.
  • I don't like having two systems. I have far too much camera gear here. One or the other has to go.
  • The high ISO image quality from the Canon is really good, and very useful when shooting in the murk of the Northwest rain forest. So this week, I'm leaning toward Canon.

As it happened, yesterday was Canon day. And it was the wettest yet.

You can't be prissy. Carrying the camera in one hand and a light stand with a flash mounted on it in the other as I walked around the steep, wet, vine-entangled clear-cut, I slipped and fell — a lot. I got wet and muddy. The camera got wet and muddy. In one sudden fall, I landed on top of the 6D, which landed lens-first on top of a rock. Everybody survived, including the old 20-35/2.8 L lens. (At first it wouldn't autofocus after the fall. Then I realized that was because when it struck the rock, the autofocus switch got moved to manual. I switched it back and all was fine. That's one tough lens, now sporting a slight scar on the autofocus switch.)

A wet photographer.

For the rest of the project, it looks like I'll be using Canon. Not because of its superior weather resistance — I still don't really trust it — but because of the built-in GPS in the 6D. That's perfect for an art project like this that touches on science.

Meanwhile I've got a million photos to edit, which is my excuse for not being out there yet this morning in the rain.

Thanks for letting me ramble…


 bkpix's gear list:bkpix's gear list
Pentax K-5 Pentax K-5 IIs Canon EOS 6D Canon EOS 7D Mark II Pentax KP +13 more
Canon EOS 6D Pentax K-5
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