Reading various photography forums, you might believe that 90% of digital SLR toting photographers love to spend time shooting pictures in the rain. It seems to be one of those features people always claim to need. Additionally, whenever a manufacturer makes the claim of “water resistant”, the same people are quick to dismiss it as “weak” or “not good enough”.
I’ve seen rumored “specifications” thrown about. For example, some people perpetuate the rumor that a Canon EOS 5D Mark II can withstand 3, 5, 10, etc “inches of rain per hour”. Personally, I find that a very subjective measure (after all, what is rain? what size of rain drops are we talking?) and find it hard to believe that a company like Canon (or any company for that matter) would use such a gauge. It sounds like something a sales or marketing guy tossed out at a photo show once and has since perpetuated itself to become “fact”.
So in reading 5D Mark II and 7D marketing materials, they mention something to the effect of “weather and environmentally sealed like the Canon EOS 1n”. I have no idea what a Canon EOS 1n is. Film never did anything for me, so naturally, I never gave a crap about film bodies. I did find one “rumored specification” regarding the Canon 1n and the famed “rain per hour” though. It was on Photo.net in a Canon 1n review. The writer said that he heard the 1n could withstand “1/3 inch of rain per hour”. Now, that sounds more likely, although I’m still not believing in the whole “rain per hour” thing.
Digging a bit more, I found that the Canon EOS 3 was made with the same level of weather resistance as the Canon 1n. Since I couldn’t really find much about the 1n’s weather resistance, I wondered if I’d find anything about the Canon EOS 3. Although this is anecdotal, I did find this review of the Canon EOS 3. In it, here is what the author said in regard to weather sealing:
Weather Resistant Design â€¢ The body sports water and dust seals and is build to the same durability and sealing specs as the EOS 1N. For example, all buttons and dials use rubber gaskets to block out water droplets. The back door has a seal as well. Important electrical contacts are bipolar and gold plated. I’ve been caught in tropical downpours many times with my EOS 3 and A2. Not once did the EOS 3 jam or lockup. It just kept on tickin.’ The A2, in a similar downpour, ate it. Luckily it rose from the dead after drying out for a week! If you frequently shoot in wet or dusty conditions this camera should be able to take it. [emphasis mine]
Additionally, I found (at the Canon Camera Museum) that the Canon EOS 1v (the successor to the 1n and grandfather of the 1D digital bodies), was “required to be completely resistant to water, sand, and dust.” Completely resistant.Â Pretty strong words. Now, again, that was for the Canon EOS 1v, not the 1n, which is supposed to be the level of sealing for the 5D Mark II and 7D.
But I think its pretty safe to say that the 5D Mark II and 7D are undoubtedly “weather resistant”. Now, maybe you get caught in a flash tropical downpour (like the EOS 3 reviewer) or maybe its a light shower. Either way, I’m confident that the 7D (and the similarly sealed 5D Mark II) would be able to continue functioning.
Now, if you’re talking about standing out in a typhoon or hurricane, trying to get images of the eye of the storm, then that may not be the case and you should perhaps invest in a Canon EOS 1D or 1Ds body.
What I wonder is, all these people thinking they need “true” weather sealing and water resistance.. do you guys carry a raincoat with you where ever you go? Is the cell phone you carry equally water resistant?