If you need weather-sealed photography gear for your adventures out in the wild, this guide will help you find what you’re looking for.
Weather sealing and weatherproofing are becoming more important in the camera industry now. In an age where smartphones generally carry IP ratings, items like cameras and lenses often fall short. This is starting to change, though. If you’re a photographer who loves being outside in all sorts of weather but you just aren’t sure what weather-sealed photography gear to buy, this guide is for you. So, sit back with your favorite beverage and find out what you need to look out for.
Cameras and lenses have come a long way over the last few years regarding weather sealing. All but the most affordable cameras generally have some weather sealing in them, and some incredibly affordable lenses are weather sealed. Still, not all weather sealing is created equally. You need to know what to look for before you spend your cash. The last thing you want to do is head out with photography gear that will ruin in the rain. This guide will help you figure out what you need to look for. Let’s break things down further below.
IP Ratings Are the Way Forward
Most cameras and lenses geared towards semi-pro and professional photographers have some degree of weather sealing in them these days. This is a fantastic quality for cameras and lenses. Weather sealing will allow you can to get out and shoot no matter what. If you pair a weather-sealed camera with a weather-sealed lens, you can shoot in the rain, the snow, gale-force winds with dust and debris flying about, and more. Going to the beach or the lake with your gear isn’t as stressful either.
Some manufacturers are now starting to do such a fine job with weather sealing that they are being awarded IP ratings. IP ratings or Ingress Protection Ratings are a standard published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It rates the degree of protection provided by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures against intrusion by dust and water. Both Leica and Olympus have embraced IP ratings, and we have put them to the test. The Leica SL2 (the first image above) was thoroughly soaked and still worked perfectly. The Olympus E-M1X. We covered it with gritty red dirt and then washed it off with a hose, and it was fine. Some Olympus lenses also have IP ratings. We believe that going forward, all manufacturers need to embrace IP ratings. Will cameras cost a little more because of this? Maybe, but you’ll have weather-sealed photography gear that lasts a lot longer.
Which Weather Sealed Camera Should You Buy?
Not all brands have taken on IP ratings yet. However, there are some brands out there that you can totally trust when it comes to build quality. Pentax cameras are about as robust as they come. This is great if you want to stick to DSLRs. Canon, Fujifilm, Olympus (now OM-Digital Solutions), Nikon, and Panasonic also offer cameras that will stand up to abuse. Again, though, some cameras are better sealed than others. The Canon EOS R5 has more weather-sealing than the EOS R6, for example.
What about Sony? Sony is starting to catch up when it comes to weather sealing. Still, it has taken them a long time to get their weather-sealing act in order. In fact, when writing this, there are just two Sony cameras we’d recommend for photographers who need weather sealing. Those cameras would be the Sony a7s III ($3,498) and the Sony a1 ($6,499). We’d still recommend other cameras over these ones, though, based on weather sealing alone. Still, these Sony bodies are much better than their previous weather-sealed cameras.
Only you can know just how much abuse you need your camera to take. Whether you need protection against the odd splash or heavy downpours, look at how many seals the cameras have. You can find this information on manufacturer websites. How thick or secure the port covers are. How thick the visible gaskets are. Look for temperature ratings on the manufacturer’s websites. There’s a lot of information out there that can help you make a decision. So, what ten cameras would we recommend based on weather sealing? Here they are:
The Cameras To Buy
- Olympus EM1X – $1,999
- Leica SL2 – $5,959
- Olympus E-M1 III – $1,599
- Canon EOS R5 – $3,899
- Panasonic S5 – $1,997.95
- Fujifilm X-T4 – $1,699
- Pentax K1 II – $1,796.95
- Olympus E-M5 III – $999
- Nikon D850 $2,996.95
- Nikon Z6 II – $1,996.95
You will, of course, need to do your own research. Much more has to be taken into consideration than just weather sealing when buying a camera. Still, we test how durable cameras are when we review them. It’s our job to make sure manufacturers’ claims are true. We can say with absolute confidence that the cameras above will survive heavy downpours, blowing winds, dust, freezing cold temperatures, and more.
When it comes to buying weather-sealed lenses, you need to look for a few key features. How many seals do the lenses have? Is the whole lens body sealed or just the barrel? Does the lens need an additional filter over the front element to completely seal it? What temperatures can they operate in? You need to know these things at an absolute minimum before purchasing. Also, knowing lens classifications from each manufacturer can help. Sigma Art lenses are fully weather-sealed, while Sigma Contemporary lenses are just sealed at the mount. Canon L series lenses feature full weather sealing. Fujifilm lenses denoted with a WR in the name are weather-sealed too. Some lenses are also now coming with IP ratings too like the Olympus 100-400mm F5-6.3 IS ($1,599). Though, this is very much the exception, not the rule presently.
Not all lenses are denoted with an abbreviation to let you know if they’re weather sealed or not. So you’ll have to do some digging for yourself. In our reviews, we will always tell you if a lens is sealed or not. We’ll also tell you how it fared in our real-world tests. When it comes to recommending which lenses to buy, this is a little trickier. There are so many exceptional weather-sealed lenses out there. It also depends more on what you want to shoot and whether you’re a fan of primes or zooms. So, instead, we’ll link to some of our weather-sealed lens roundups rather than suggest a few lenses.
Weather Sealed Lens Roundups
The roundups listed below cover quite a few different platforms and genres of photography. Have a look through them to see which weather-sealed lenses we recommend:
- 12 Weather-Sealed Lenses That Can Take a Beating From Mother Nature
- 9 Weather-Sealed Lenses For Show-Stopping Landscape Photography
- 4 Robust Weather-Sealed Lenses for Fujifilm’s GFX Cameras
- 4 Must-Own Weather-Sealed Lenses for Micro Four Thirds Cameras
- 5 Weather-Sealed Lenses That Compliment Your Fujifilm X Mount Camera
- 9 Bang for Your Buck Weather-Sealed Prime Lenses for Sony’s E Mount
- Seven Weather-Sealed 24-70mm Zoom Lenses That Shrug Off Mother Nature
We have plenty more weather-sealed lens roundups as well. You can use the integrated Google search for our website to find them easily. When it comes to buying weather-sealed lenses, narrow down what type of lens you’re looking for (prime vs. zoom) and become familiar with each manufacturer’s abbreviations. When you start looking for lenses, you’ll be quite surprised just how affordable some weather-sealed lenses are these days. For example, Tamron’s newer lenses for Sony E mount cameras are weather-sealed, and they won’t break the bank. In fact, Tamron’s 20mm f2.8 is just $249. The Tamron 24mm and 35mm f2.8 lenses are only $199! So, shop around
Weather-Sealed Photography Gear In Conclusion
Once you have decided that you need weather-sealed photography gear, you need to figure out what camera and lenses will suit your shooting style. There are weather-sealed cameras that are perfect for sports, action, landscapes, portraits, and more. The same, of course, can be said about lenses. Only you can know what you need for your work. However, now you know what you need to look for in weather sealing, IP ratings, and lens designations. This should make finding new weather-sealed photography gear easier.