This past weekend, we did a quick family trip to Williamsburg; always a fun time with our big family. (I drove down, so I packed the big and small Tenba!) The hotel we stayed in had an indoor water park, and we planned a couple of days in Busch Gardens. With the grandkids along on this trip, I knew we were going to get wet. You can’t miss those kinds of pictures, but how do you get them without getting your sensitive camera gear splashed? A waterproof housing wasn’t really an option since I don’t need this kind of protection often, and a waterproof housings can cost as much as the DSLR you’re trying to protect. (And, as I explained yesterday, I don’t really need another piece of gear.) I went to my favorite camera store and asked for help. Jay pointed me to the Op Tech USA Rainsleeve™. You can find their website at http://www.optechusa.com/. They have lots of other accessories there, but let me tell you about the Rainsleeve.
You can see from the picture that the concept is simple. You put your camera into a long, plastic bag; tie off the front of the to your lens shade; and go to work.
The good news on the Rainsleeve is the price. Jay charged me about $6 for a set of two – certainly inexpensive as camera gear goes. It is a sturdy plastic and can be rolled very small to fit into the camera bag. I expect it will last for several uses. The Rainsleeve is not going to protect your gear from a full blast of water from the Escape from Pompeii ride at Busch Gardens, but worked fine in the Sesame Street splash zone (gotta keep the little kids cool) and in the constant drips and minor kid splashes from the water park.
What didn’t I like? The Rainsleeve is a little unwieldy to work with. It looks form-fitting on the cover of the package, but it doesn’t fit that well when you add a battery grip and the required GPS. Getting my camera into it was tight. It has a little hole in the plastic to accommodate the camera’s viewfinder, but getting everything lined up was troublesome. I usually shoot with both eyes open, but the excess plastic kept getting in my way.
This meant I kept getting extra kids and lifeguards into the frame since I couldn’t see them coming. I also didn’t like the front tie on the lens shade because it would slip down in front of the camera while I was making adjustments to the focus. You don't want it too tight in case you have to pull it over the front of the lens to avoid a direct hit from a splash. I had to use autofocus for most of the shots to prevent the slippage caused by me trying to manually focus the camera. That caused me to delete many more files than usual (except for the ones I kept to use here).
Final verdict? The Rainsleeve wasn’t the perfect solution, but it worked as advertised and at a cost that can’t be beat. My camera is fine after several visits to Busch Gardens and the hotel's the pool room, filled with dripping buckets and splashing kids. I think that my results would be better with practice, and I'll keep looking for something a little better. But, if you’re looking for a way to protect your gear from minor splashes and rain, the Rainsleeve does the job. Did I mention the price? Go have fun in the rain.