Improvised Rain Cover
If you take a lot of pictures or shoot a lot of video, there will come a time when you will have to use your camera in the rain, though probably not by choice. Perhaps you’ll be on an assignment that can’t be rescheduled, or maybe touring an attraction that you won’t be revisiting. Mother Nature doesn’t plan the weather around your schedule, so it’s going to be raining. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to protect your camera, and it costs only pennies in its simplest form: a Ziploc™ bag.
If it’s raining or snowing, or if you’re taking pictures in close proximity to crashing surf or in a misty environment such as the base of Niagara Falls, your camera is going to get wet. If you have one of those nifty waterproof point-and-shoot cameras, or a waterproof camcorder, you’re in business—that’s what they’re made for. Otherwise, cameras don’t like water; it’s detrimental to their health. So you should make every effort to keep your camera dry. You can buy protective gear for your camera, but it can be a significant investment, especially for the casual photographer.
In a pinch, all you need to keep your camera dry is a Ziploc™ bag of the proper size. In fact, you should always keep a Ziploc™ bag or two in your camera bag, or stuff one in your pocket if the weather looks threatening. Even though a clear plastic bag doesn’t possess the best optical properties, you can nonetheless work the camera controls and take pictures right through it. Just don’t let any water get inside the bag, and try to suck most of the air out of the bag before sealing it. It’s best if you use a heavy-duty freezer bag with a double-row zipper, but any bag is better than none.
If you want to improve upon the optical properties of a Ziploc™ bag, and don’t mind spending $10 or $20, all you have to do is cut a hole in the bag and tape a UV, skylight or clear filter in place. Once you have a filter that fits your lens, lay it down on one of the sides of the bag toward the bottom. Trace the filter with a permanent marker and cut out the hole so it’s a bit smaller than the diameter of the filter. Then put the filter inside the bag and push the hole in the bag down over the filter so that the bag has to stretch a bit to fit around the filter. Use a strip of electrical tape to join them.
Another way to secure the filter to the bag is with an extension ring. If you have a filter you don’t use, you can turn it into an extension ring simply by removing the glass. Then take the intact filter and push the threaded end through the hole in the bag from the outside. Screw the extension ring onto the edge of the filter while catching the edge of the hole in the bag between the threads of the two rings. You can test if the bag is waterproof by filling it with water, but make sure it’s dry inside before putting your camera in it.
To use this modified Ziploc™ bag all you have to do is screw the attached filter onto the end of your camera lens, suck out the air and zip it closed. You can now keep this waterproof bag in your camera bag to use whenever needed. By the way, do not use this bag to completely submerge your camera underwater, as it could easily leak, resulting in the ruination of your camera.