Aug 3, 20161903 views

Weather Sealing Your Camera?

Anyone have tips for protecting your camera in harsh weather conditions? I'm heading back to the beautiful Black Rock Desert in a few weeks, and though I've managed with a disposable the past few burns, I'd really like to bring my DSLR this time. They've got everything out there: gnarly dust storms, lots of wind, the occasional thunderstorm... I'd rather DIY something budget-friendly (Ziploc bags? electrical tape?) than spend on new waterproof housing. FWIW, I'm bringing an old Canon, so I won't be devastated if things don't go as planned.
Thanks for your help!
(Taken last year with a disposable)
Duncan, Ismail Alex, and 21 others

I went with my 5d2 & then 5d3 in my first 2 years, 2011 and 2012. Used some gaffers tape around the lens mount, UV filter, and kept it in a jumbo ziplock bag (like until I went to use it. Afterwords, sent it off to Canon CPS for a full cleaning. You say you've been, so you know what the dust is like. Something like @SteveMandHK mentioned will work well, although you'll need to be careful where and when you change your battery/memory card. For a DIY, try one of those jumbo bags, carefully cut a circular hole in part of it away from the zip area, one that will just barely fit over your lens filter threads. Put on a UV filter over it and snug it down, maybe put some thin tape on, and then put your lens hood on over that. Keep it sealed until you need to change battery/memory card. Probably pretty good, but no guarantees. And it'll be a bit slick, since it's slippery plastic. You might be able to find some clear rubbery plastic that might be similar you could try with. EDIT: Oh yes, that's the other thing I found in myself, I was much more aware of this expensive thing with me, positioning, not hitting it on stuff and also then also, at least for me, "hiding" a bit behind the lens. 2013 I brought it but left it in the car and it changed my Burn. I'm still trying to find my happy medium of using my (new to me) Olympus weather sealed camera where I take pictures, but I still am out there being myself.
Go with a weather sealed camera. There are plenty of solid go-anywhere point and shoots that will produce high quality images nowadays that are designed for extreme environments. If you want to go ILC, choose a setup that is weather sealed. I am not familiar with all brands, but there are torture tests out there for any camera that claims weather resistance. I have had no fear taking my Olympus OM-D cameras out in dust storms, freezing environments and downpouring rainforests, and never had a problem.
The question is how much is your DSLR body and lenses worth? If it is in the thousands of $$ then I wouldn't risk using a DIY ziplock bag and filter cap. The EWA Marine bags are not cheap but you can just hose the whole thing off when you return from La Playa.
Olympus tg-4 or tg-5 are nearly bulletproof, and take outrageously good pictures for such a little camera, thanks to some very clever firmwear and a nice bright f/2 lens. Next step up is Nikon-1 AW1 , a waterproof, dustproof, idiotproof mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. If you must use a DSLR consider a prime lens, or a lens that doesn't act as a big bellow when zooming in and out. Or grab a cheap and cheerful 2nd hand body and take a cheaper lens so you won't cry if it's damaged.
Why don't invest in something like this? Sure the cost of your camera + lens would outweigh the small investment for a proper rain cover. There are plenty of alternative on amazon.

I spent 27 bucks on the silicon jacket, and had the carbon fiber vinyl left over from some project ages ago. Looked up the weak points on my camera body and made a cover for the underside.
Use Cheap Dig Cameras - Never take your Exp ones. They will be ruined!
That's a good write-up, more or less, of the challenges. For me personally, my first 2 years, "I had to remind myself that photography was just a side line, my main purpose was to experience the Burn with my family and friends" was something I didn't realize I was doing with my photography. My 3rd year when I didn't take my camera out with me, it suddenly changed (for the better!) my experience. I'm still trying to find a happy medium of a weather sealed P&S, of remembering I have it and taking it out and shooting with it, and not taking any photos like I mostly have the last 6 years.
Yes, the Immediacy of doing/being in the here & now is not only a Burning Man principle but an axiom resonating through out our entire society right now. I too have struggled with "life behind the lens" and have gone to several dozen regional burns without taking a single photograph (with my big camera). My happy medium of playa photography is as follows:
  1. I am always "scouting" for shots as I cruise thru the city or socialize with friends. And since I always have a notebook on hand, there are copious notes about ideas.
  2. I assign myself certain blocks of time (where I remain sober !) to explore the city, the people, the camps and the art with my camera. A morning block, an afternoon block, several evening blocks and I always flexible for those dust storms which create amazing photo opportunities. This practice creates a project like attitude for me and I look forward to the challenges.
  3. Finally, I always carry my point-n-shoot for those "I gotta catch that" moments. yes, iPhones are fine for this but I don't want to be part of the "phone culture" when on the playa.
I would use gaff tape all around the seals of where the lens meets the body and around the sections your rotate to zoom in and out. make sure all of the door openings for the sd card and cables are completely sealed and gaffed also. Shouldn't be a problem. Bring a polarizer and UV filter to help out with those dust storms also. might want to invest in a turkey baster air blaster to help blow all the dirt off at the end of the day or you can buy canned air.
Canned Air - YES!!! I will add that to my diatribe above :-) Thanks for the reminder! And yes, I have seen many folks with taped up bodies. Another great idea!!!
Thanks! Sounds totally doable. Canned air is a great idea!
I have been asked this many times and here is a "boiler plate" response I will often use: 1. Buy a point and shoot that is waterproof and keep it on you at all times. This is the one I have and take everywhere: The participative nature of Burning Man doesn't always lend itself to being able to lug around your nice camera so to be able to respond to the spontaneous happenings, better to have something than nothing. Note: Obviously a point and shoot camera won't give you the greatest images but you can "post-produce" the crap out of the files to create some artful/fun images. 2. I have taken a Nikon D300 and D750 and don't do anything special in the way of protection. Both bodies are sealed really well. I don't change lenses unless I am in a friendly environment (IE - RV or tent). I take an extra head scarf with me to wrap the camera in the event of a really bad dust storm and just keep shooting. Otherwise, I usually keep my camera in my Camelpack backpack when on a bike or on foot. Results: I have continued to shoot with both camera bodies for years afterwards without issue.. 3. Your lenses will take the brunt of the abuse. I usually stick to a multi-purpose cheepie zoom lens and don't sweat it. Sigma has some great deals and though some folks are going to argue the point, many of their models are 90% the quality of Nikon or Cannon glass. 4. For faster access you may want to carry your camera on a strap. If so I would suggest this: 5. Finally - Invest in a good professional cleaning of all equipment when you get home. :-) Feel free to reach out to chat if desired: Here is a small selection of my Burning Man photos: Good luck and enjoy your time in the desert! DD
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Oh, also... Friend me on FB if you wish. I will let you know when I put more photos up.
Awesome, will do!
The angry photographer on youtube has a GREAT cheap hack just using a ziplock bag and a filter cap for your lens!