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Protecting Video Gear in Foul Weather

Weather can change on a dime. Whether it is extreme heat or cold, rain, snow, thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes or wild fires, video crews must be prepared for any kind of foul weather.

At one time, a simple rain cover was deemed enough to protect a video camera. Today, with many types of sensitive gear being used, a range of weather accessories is necessary. Even batteries and storage media need their own protection. The task of saving gear in bad weather is now more complex than ever.

Let’s start with the big one — the camera. Water or moisture in your lens or camera can be disastrous. So prevent it or have big trouble. Adorama, a New York City equipment house, surveyed inclement weather gear with its Adorama Learning Center, a resource for buyers. It came up with some recommendations.

AquaTech Sport Shield, a camera rain cover.

AquaTech Sport Shield, a camera rain cover.

High on their list is AquaTech Sport Shield for smaller DSLR-type cameras. The shield not only covers the camera and includes sleeves for the operator’s hands to make adjustments on the camera, but it also has a hood over the rear so the viewfinder and LCD screen can be seen.

Think Tank Hydrophobia Rain Cover (left) and Manfrotto Pro Light E-705 Elements Cover (right)

Think Tank Hydrophobia Rain Cover (left) and Manfrotto Pro Light E-705 Elements Cover (right)

Also recommended is the Think Tank Hydrophobia Rain Cover, which offers access to attach the camera to a tripod or monopod. The Manfrotto Pro Light E-705 Elements Cover can accommodate up to a 70-200mm lens plus a speed light attached to the camera. The Op/Tech Rainsleeve is a portable, disposable option that can be used when other rain protection is not available.

For larger video cameras, Porta Brace makes a range of waterproof cases with rain covers. For a rain cover that fits a camera up to 16 inches long, Porta Brace makes the Porta Brace QS-M3 Quick Slick Mini Rain Cover. Even larger covers are available, depending on the camera model.

Pelican iM2500 Storm Case

Pelican iM2500 Storm Case

As for watertight cases, few names are better known than Pelican. There are Pelican cases for every piece of gear. The Pelican iM2500 Storm Case offers removable dividers for many padded layout combinations. It can store cameras, lenses and other accessories.

The Pelican is an injection-molded case made of HPX high performance resin. It is virtually unbreakable, dent-resistant and shatter-resistant, as well as tough, rugged, lightweight, airtight and watertight. There is a permanently attached Vortex valve that automatically adjusts air pressure without letting in water.

Left to right: Mindshift BackLight 26L Backpack, Manfrotto Pro Light Bumblebee-130 Camera Backpack and the Pelican S115 Sport Elite Laptop and Camera Backpack.

Left to right: Mindshift BackLight 26L Backpack, Manfrotto Pro Light Bumblebee-130 Camera Backpack and the Pelican S115 Sport Elite Laptop and Camera Backpack.

As for weather resistant backpacks, Adorama recommends the Mindshift Backlight 26L Backpack for its load capacity and the Manfrotto Pro Light Bumblebee-130 Camera Backpack for its comfortable, lightweight design and moisture-resistant fabric construction. Both of these bags also come with a rain cover. The Pelican S115 Sport Elite Laptop and Camera Backpack is recommended due to its durable crushproof and watertight construction.

Extreme cold temperatures can shorten camera battery life. In very cold weather, when practical, keep camera batteries near your body to keep them warm. Put a layer of insulating material between the battery and the outdoor elements to help make your batteries last a little bit longer. This includes your mobile phone, as well.

No matter the type batteries used on your shoot or memory cards, they all need cold weather protection. Think Tank Battery Holders for camera batteries and AA batteries are useful for storing batteries. Memory cards need protection from extreme temperature changes and moisture as the contact points on the cards can be a bit delicate.

Pelican SD Case

Pelican SD Case

For memory cards, Adorama recommends the Pelican 0915 Memory Card Case for SD, Mini-SD and Micro Memory Cards and for CompactFlash memory cards and the 0945 Memory Card Case for CF Memory Cards.

Moisture can damage any camera or lens. Pelican Desiccant Silica Gel is designed to put in a gear bag when in wet conditions or when switching to extreme temperatures. It will absorb moisture. Porta Brace Polar Heat Packs, Disposable Chemical Hand and Equipment Warmers are made to not only keep your hands warm, but to keep your gear warm as well.

Taking lenses from cold to warm temperatures can cause them to fog up. Having a good cleaning kit at hand is key. Both the Vortex Optics LC-1 Fog Free Lens Cleaning Field Kit and the Fraser Optics Anti-Fog Kit are options for getting and keeping lenses clean and fog-free.

Sachtler SN606 Sound Man Rain Poncho

Sachtler SN606 Sound Man Rain Poncho

In additional to keeping the gear dry, consider yourself as well. The Sachtler SN606 Sound Man Rain Poncho is excellent for keep the operator and his sound gear dry in rainy conditions.

Another tool that is handy to have when shooting outdoors in wet and/or snowy weather is a tarp. The MindShift Contact Sheet Multi-Purpose Tarp is a convenient, portable option to set up for cover that is tear-resistant and folds up small enough to keep in a gear bag.

Rode’s NTG3 RF-Bias Shotgun Microphone

Rode’s NTG3 RF-Bias Shotgun Microphone

Speaking of audio gear, keep your microphones dry. Rode’s NTG3 RF-Bias Shotgun microphone is not only made to operate in adverse climate conditions, but includes a durable storage tube for moving the mic around on location. Have cases for all microphones. Choose small waterproof storage cases for lav mics and watertight storage for small audio mixers.

Shooting video in inclement weather is a fact of life. Fortunately, a variety of tools are available to keep gear dry, warm and moisture-free. Choose them well for each component of your system and be ready for anything.

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