Weather-sealing in film cameras?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by film_guy, Feb 13, 2007.

  1. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    Is weather-sealing really important in a film camera? I can understand why it's important to digital SLRs with their electronic circuits and sensor, but is it as useful on an analog camera?

    Anyone brought their non weather-sealed film SLRs out in light rain before and survived? And how much "abuse" from bad weather can a weather-sealed film SLR like the EOS 3 take before it stops working?
     
  2. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    One of my Nikon Fs took an hour bath in dirty water. After three days of drying out it worked O.K. It's better to keep water off of the camera than relying on weather sealing. One way of doing this is to cover the camera in a plastic bag with only a lens hood sticking out. If the bag is big enough, you can shoot with your head in the bag. This still doesn't protect from high humidity..
     
  3. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    Nikon F3: soaking wet, then the rain froze on the camera. Wiped it down when it thawed, none the worse for wear.
    OTOH, I've subjected DSLRs to light rain with no ill effect, the better models often are sealed. Keep the lens pointed down till it's time to shoot.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've been out with my Canon New F-1 in the rain occasionally with no ill effects. If the camera has a meter, dedicated flash, or auto exposure there will be some electronics in there. Even an all mechanical camera benefits from weather sealing.
     
  5. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I figure it cuts both ways.

    I wouldn't want to expose my camera to rain etc.

    And, anyway, the light would be so crummy that the photograph wouldn't be very good.

    Now, if I were a PJ and hired to shoot a monsoon I might think otherwise - so long as the boss is buying the replacement gear!
     
  6. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    To me it really depends on whose camera it is: the company equipment or my personal equipment. I don't think it is really a difference between film and digital equipment... either one of them can be drown in a good downpour, and might even live once again after being dried out.

    But to really answer your question with some of my experience - a regular camera will ultimately suffer and become unreliable with adverse weather/dust exposure. I once photographed a lot in underground metal mines using Nikkormat cameras. The mines are very wet, humid, and dusty. The cameras needed complete overhauls after every (approx) 160 hours of underground service. In coal mines I used Nikonos cameras - they never needed servicing but that was mostly because we couldn't open them (even to change film) underground. After dragging them through a shift in the coal mine we'd just hose them off, blow the water off with canned air and then change the film.
     
  7. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    Why do you think Pentax sealed the LX?

    Good luck in the rain :wink:,
    Philippe
     
  8. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    If I had to photograph in rain, I trust my Nikon F3 more than any other camera. Conversely, I would be 100% certain that any view camera lens would not be water- (or even damp-)proof. I was once caught in a heavy shower with a Pentax Z20 in a case - I mistakenly thought it would be OK, on examination there was quite a lot of water in the film chamber and indeed inside the film cassette (which was dumped). The camera motor and exposure meter did dry out (as soon as I got back to the car, I wrapped the camera in a towel, shook it to remove as much water as possible and turned the car heater up full for the 50-mile drive home), but the autofocus never recovered. On the other hand, I did leave the same camera (which then was the one I carried at all times) in a light bag lying on the ground while I opened the garage door. I forgot it and drove over it with a light car (Opel Corsa). It sustained a crack in the LCD window, otherwise worked fine. Motto - you can sometimes get away with being stupid, but don't count on it.
     
  9. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    So is Canon or Nikon's official spec sheet on their pro cameras being weather-sealed is nothing but false advertising? By weather-sealed I don't mean that their pro cameras can be used underwater, but they should be able to at least survive a light shower in Spring time.
     
  10. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    No, this is what I meant about trusting my Nikon F3. If Nikon and Canon pro cameras weren't moisture-proof, the makers would have gone out of business years ago. The Pentax Z20 I mentioned was a mid-range camera, not intended for pro use. View cameras are in themselves not very affected by weather, but all the open slots around the edge of view camera shutters offer no resistance to moisture at all. And of course opening a darkslide in damp conditions and exposing film to dampness is a definite no-no.
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    A lot depends on the intensity of the rain. During the monsoon in the Himalayas I have seen a metre-bore drainage pipe (near enough 40 inch diameter) spurting water 2-3 metres (call it 7-10 feet): probably at least a tonne (bigger than a 2000-lb short ton, smaller than a 2240-lb long ton) per second.

    During the monsoon, I used to tape my Nikon Fs with masking tape: enough to keep the water out, and easy to remove. My Leicas, I just keep under the cyclists' rain-cape except when I am usng them.

    Brian's point about 'whose camera' is also important. I once used a Pentax autofocus/autoexposure SLR on an English Channel sea-front (3 metres/10 feet from the sea) during a storm where spray was blowing maybe 70 metres/200 feet inland. It functioned perfectly. It was a loaner from Pentax UK...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  12. Steve Bellayr

    Steve Bellayr Member

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    I found that film cameras handle inclement weather well. Change film in dry area and wipe filter (good reason to use filters) and camera down frequently. Try to use cover. Extreme cold weather (artic conditions) does have some affect on the camera and film. In retrospect these cameras appear to have been designed to work under adverse conditions.
     
  13. ehparis

    ehparis Member

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    I have Nikon F, F2A, and F3HP cameras. Over the years all have been exposed to wet weather of varying kinds. None have flinched.

    This is one of the main reasons for purchasing a Nikon or Canon professional body.
     
  14. mawz

    mawz Member

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    Note the weather sealed cameras contain electronics. The crop of sealed AF cameras are nearly as electronic as a DSLR.

    There's fairly few sealed non-AF bodies. The LX, the F3 (to a lesser extent) and that's about it as far as I'm aware. The less the camera relies on electronics, the less critical the sealing.
     
  15. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Well if it rains a hood and a filter are desirable as water on an lens can capillary and water inside a lens is a pain even if you have a lens spanner.

    J8M on kievs will capilliary trust me, filter on if it is more then drizzle.

    noel
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 14, 2007
  16. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    A lot depends on whether you've been earning good Karma.
    A droplet of water in the wrong place will corrode an insignificant lever or contact internally and, though repairable doesn't always show up immediately.
    The Canon AE1 has a six part switch in it that is a royal PITA to clean of corrosion or tarnish.
     
  17. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    As long as we're telling war stories...

    I trusted Nikon F and F2 bodies more than any others. I remember shooting an afternoon college football game in a rainstorm that was blowing so hard I couldn't keep anything dry, including my skin under my clothes. I returned to the photo lab, removed the backs, prisms and lenses from the cameras, put them in a large film dryer until they were dry, reassembled them and shot an evening college football game in another rainstorm. The cameras never missed a shot.

    Unfortunately, experiences with my new Nikon F3 under mildly damp conditions were total disasters. I was soured on camera electronics for many years because of that camera. Nowadays, an F5/F6 or EOS 1n/1v (or the previously mentioned Pentax model) wouldn't be a problem due to better sealing and more reliable electronics.
     
  18. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    Anyone brought their film cameras (Nikon F-series and Canon 1 and 3 series) out in anywhere from -5 to -28 celsius winter with a relatively light snow storm before and survived? I'm thinking of doing some late Winter shooting, and the weather here has been really unpredictable. We had 3 and half days of sudden non-stop snow, and then light ice-rain for the next 2 days.
     
  19. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    It never gets that cold around here so I have no experience with cold weather shooting. I do remember reading an article in "Popular Photography" from 1998 or 1999 in which the nature photo columnist at the time took an Antarctica photo tour. He took along a manual Leica rangefinder as a backup to Canon EOS 1n bodies in case the cold weather presented problems with the electronics. The EOS bodies worked throughout the trip with no problems. Conversely, I've also read of National Geographic photographers using top-of-the-line Nikon and Canon electronic cameras in areas with high heat and humidity with no difficulties.

    I would suspect low temperatures would drain batteries faster than normal.
     
  20. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    Yeah, I know about the low temperature low battery problem. I'm just worried about moisture entering the film chamber, and affecting the whole roll of exposed film. Or worst, moisture entering the shutter or auto focus mechanism.
     
  21. NikoSperi

    NikoSperi Member

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    In your back yard

    Just got back from BC - used my trusty F100 in -20C with no problem. I was afraid the film would crack and the rewind was slow, but no problems there. I am using the same set of lithiun ion AA's I had in there two years ago the first time I took the camera into snow and cold.

    I've also taken a Hassie SWC into deep snow/cold. Not as fun I assure you!
     
  22. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Well I've had a camera inside my walking jacket and in a slip case so wet I needed to remove the film and post it to kodak. The camera needed a gentle shake, after pouring out, a Rolli 35t has a galvanometer, and leaving on top of a radiator without the battery overnight. In the morning it was still raining cats and dogs, this was Skye and it can rain on Skye...

    It was a magic holiday
    Noel

    P.S. I was well wet as well as the camera, Skye is not for the sugar or salt
     
  23. film_guy

    film_guy Member

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    Well, I took my EOS 3 out in the winter weather (-28 degrees celsius with a really strong windchill so I figured the temperature was around -30 to -32 degrees celsius). There was a strong wind and snow was being blown up around me. I managed to use the camera outdoors for approx. 40 minutes before the low battery signal started showing. I shot 3 to 4 rolls of film before it got too cold for me, and I had to go indoors for shelter.

    The camera's stop was wet with moisture and melted snow, and the LCD light came up slow the whole time. I changed film under the protection of my jacket whenever possible, and kept all my film inside my jacket for fear that the emulsion might crack due to the low temperature. Once I got indoors, I left my camera next to a heater for an hour with the film chamber open, and after that the camera was fully functioning and everything looks good. The low battery signal was gone, and the camera's still working, which I guess is good.

    Any idea how cold it gets before 35mm film emulsions get too brittle and crack?