Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Review - Shooting in the rain with the Think Tank Hydrophobia Flash 70-200

Since I do a lot of shooting outdoors, I recently ordered the Think Tank Hydrophobia Flash 70-200 raincover for my camera. In fact, I actually bought two of them.  One for my 5D mkII and one for my 7D.

I had the chance to actually use it under "combat conditions" this past weekend when it started pouring rain at a sunset wedding I was shooting on the beach.

We had just finished the ceremony and family photos when the sky just opened up and dumped on us. Everyone quickly ran under the nearest tree while we waited for it to [hopefully] pass.

There was another wedding couple that was shooting at the same time we were and their group decided to pack it up since the rain did not seem to want to let up.

In the meantime I got to my car, wiped down the cameras as best as I could and put the Hydrophobia raincovers on both my 5DmkII and 7D.  Within a few minutes I was ready to start shooting again in the rain.

The Hydrophobia has an internal strap that fits snugly around your lens and a strap on the outside that cinches around the lens hood.  Once you strap your camera in, you can carry the whole thing with the camera strap built in to the exterior of the raincover.  Since the existing camera strap on the camera itself does not have to be strung through the cover, it eliminates having to have 2 openings where rain can get into.  The camera is COMPLETELY covered except for the openings for the lens and for your hands to reach the controls.  You also don't need to take off your camera strap when using this raincover - there is an elastic loop on the inside of the Hydrophobia that you use to fold up and store your camera strap in.

When you order the Hydrophobia from Think Tank Photo, you also need to order an eyepiece specific to your camera.  [Check out the bottom of this post for a special limited offer that ThinkTank is offering] This replaces the regular eyepiece of your camera (and to keep you from losing that eyepiece, Think Tank thoughtfully designed an eyepiece storage pocket into the raincover).  The rubber gasket around the viewfinder portion of the Hydrophobia fits over this custom eyepiece and seals it from rain.  This way you are looking directly through an unobstructed viewfinder when you are shooting.

It's really well-constructed, with seam sealed zippers and heavy duty material. Once I got this on the camera, I was like "Rain? What rain? Let's go shoot!"

Couple of minor issues that I have:

1. The velcro strips around the eyepiece area could be smaller.  I also think they could get by with just two velcro strips instead of the 4 strips that it currently has. If they could redesign it so that you didn't need the strips on either side of the viewfinder, it would make it a little easier to read the LCD display on top of the camera.

2. The Hydrophobias are really designed for longer lenses like the 70-200.  I wish they would make a shorter version for like the 24-70 or 24-105.  While you can use the Hydrophobia raincovers with these shorter lenses, the extra material bunches up around the lens, making it somewhat difficult to adjust the zoom.

3. The plastic fogs up easily if you leave it in the car too long.  I kept mine in the car because I like to keep it handy as I never know when I'll need it, but found out that if I did so, the clear plastic portion of the raincover would fog up.  A lot.  Luckily, there is a very easy fix to that:

I emailed Think Tank Photo customer service about the fogging issue and they were very quick in getting back to me with a solution:

Hi Todd,

"It sounds like you have encountered an issue with the Polyurethane that is a bit unsightly but can be easily remedied.  We have decided to use PU as the clear material in our Hydrophobia rain covers because it has some superior characteristics over PVC (polyvinyl chloride).  PVC is the single most environmentally damaging of all plastics so we use PU partly because it is one of the most environmentally friendly plastics available at the moment.  In very cold weather PU will not crack or get stiff whereas PVC alternatives can crack or have other issues.  That all being said, sometimes the material can fog when stored wet or exposed to extended UV light.  To remedy the issue simply apply some gentle plastic polish such as "Flitz" or our preferred polish "Meguiar's PlastX."  Using a microfiber cloth so as not to scratch the material, apply a small amount of the polish and wipe away the fogging to restore the plastic to its original condition.

When not in use, keep the rain cover dry and not exposed to the sun.  To minimize fogging of the plastic windows, loosely store the rain cover, possibly hanging in a closet as the fogging generally occurs when it is folded snugly and packed away- especially after use in the rain."

That's one of the reasons I really like Think Tank Photo.  Not only do they make great gear, but their customer service is first rate.

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