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Weather Protection  

TOC

Introduction

IP Rating

Other Manufactures

Canon Weather Resistant Lenses

Introduction

Professional Canon bodies 1Dx series are weather resistant and so are some L-Series lenses but not all. Those lenses that are resistant require a filter to be fitted to complete the sealing.

For example the technical report EOS-1D Mark III (Part 2) states:

Dust- and drip-proof on par with the EOS-1D Mark II N Meticulous sealing using packing and silicone rubber is provided for a total of 76 locations including all joins among operating parts and the exterior covers to ensure reliable operation even under severe environmental conditions. Ribbing has also been added around the accessory shoe section to ensure the same dust- and drip-proof when the 580EX II is attached as when using the EOS-1D Mark III alone.

However, Canon are careful only to claim weather or moisture resistance, not proof. The technical report only claims drip-proof. Canon do not make specific claims that I am aware of regarding weather resistance, nor do the quote any recognized standards for weather resistant electronic equipment such as the IP system.

Chuck Westfall who is the manager of the Camera Division Technical Information Dept of Canon U.S.A. has apparently placed a message in a forum stating:

The EOS-1D and 1Ds are weather-resistant in conditions equivalent to rainfall at a rate of 10 inches per hour, which would be very heavy rain.

It is difficult to equate this to a recognized standard without more information on the test method, but would seem to be equal to IPx1 or perhaps IPx2 ratings which is not very high.

There are anecdotes about the effectiveness of the weather resistance, but there are just as many about using semi-pro kit in bad weather. And similarly you hear of both pro and semi-pro cameras dying a death after exposure to wet conditions. None of this is evidence in either direction.

So clearly an effort has been made but it is difficult to have any certainty how effective it is in the real world.

IP Rating

EN 60529/IEC 60529: "Degrees of protection provided by enclosures (IP Code)" administered by the International Electrotechnical Commission, outlines an international classification system for the sealing effectiveness of enclosures of electrical equipment against the intrusion into the equipment of foreign bodies (i.e. tools, dust, fingers) and moisture. This classification system utilizes the letters "IP" ("Ingress Protection") followed by two or three digits and is known as the IP Rating.

The first digit of the IP code indicates the degree that equipment is protected against solid foreign bodies intruding into an enclosure.

0 No special protection 
1 Protection from a large part of the body such as a hand (but no protection from deliberate access); from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter. 
2 Protection against fingers or other object not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter. 
3 Protection from entry by tools, wires, etc., with a diameter of thickness greater than 1.0mm.
4 Protection from entry by solid objects with a diameter or thickness greater than 1.0mm 5 Protection from the amount of dust that would interfere with the operation of the equipment. 
6 Dust tight.

The second digit indicates the degree of protection of the equipment inside the enclosure against the harmful entry of various forms of moisture (e.g. dripping, spraying, submersion, etc.)

0 No special protection 
1 Protection from vertically dripping water with no tilt. 
2 Protection from vertically dripping water up to 15 degree of tilt. 
3 Protection from sprayed water up to 60 degree from the vertical. 
4 Protection from splashed water from all directions. 
5 Protection from water projected from a nozzle all directions
6 Protection against heavy seas, or powerful jets of water. 
7 Protection against immersion up to 1M. 
8 Protection against complete, continuous submersion in water over 1M.

A third digit is sometimes used. An "x" is used for one of the digits if there is only one class of protection; i.e. IPX4 which addresses moisture resistance only.

 

Other Manufactures

So what do other manufactures claim?

Nikon does not provide much detail and uses similar language to Canon but are perhaps a little more bold. For example for the D300 they say:

Nikon's enhanced sealing system seals body seams with rubber gaskets to effectively help protect against moisture and dust. Shown at the lower right with the optional Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10 attached, which features the same magnesium alloy construction and enhanced weather sealing as the D300.

 

Canon Weather Resistant Lenses

Some of Canonís L series lenses introduced since mid 1999 are equipped with gaskets and rings to keep out dust and moisture. Theyíre not waterproof, by any means, but they are much more resistant to rain weather than Canonís other lenses, see the discussion on bodies and the lack of IP rating above.

You can use the sealed lenses with non-sealed cameras, of course, but the gasket around the lens mount will still let in water unless mated to the gasket around a sealed camera. The rubber ring around the lens mount is an easy way to tell if a lens is weather sealed or not.

Lenses do not have sealed glass ends - you need to put a filter on these lenses to seal the front element end; presumably this excludes the big telephotos that do not take front filters.

Canon's description for Dust and Water Resistant Construction

"The EF300mm f/2.8L USM, EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM, EF 500mm f/4L IS USM, and EF 600mm f/4L IS USM lenses are highly dust- and water- resistant. The switch panel, exterior seams, and drop-in filter compartment have rubber linings. Moving parts such as the focusing ring and switches are also designed to prevent water and dust from entering. These lenses can therefore be used in harsh conditions without dust and water getting inside.

The lenses are equipped with a rubber ring on the mount to improve their dustproofing and waterproofing characteristics. As the lens is repeatedly mounted and detached, the rubber ring will leave fine abrasion marks on the outside of the camera mount. This will not affect operation."

Sealing is not always well documented in Canon marketing materials, but as far as can be assessed (as of December 07) the list of sealed lenses is as follows (UOS see list here):

16-35mm 2.8L USM 
16-35mm 2.8L II USM 
17-40mm 4L USM [1]
24-70mm 2.8L USM 
24-105mm 4L IS USM [1]
70-200mm 2.8L IS USM 
70-200mm 4L IS USM [1]
28-300mm 3.5-5.6L IS USM 
14mm f/2.8L II USM [2]
50mm 1.2L USM [1]
300mm 2.8L IS USM 
400mm 2.8L IS USM 
400mm 4 DO IS USM 
500mm 4L IS USM 
600mm 4L IS USM
Extender EF 1.4x II
Extender EF 2x II

[1] Not listed on the Canon USA Web as Weather Resistant but please refer to the relevant Canon Technical Report.

[2] Listed as "dust-and moisture-proofed" on USA product page.

 

Last Updated 05/04/2008

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