Tips for Using Your Camera in the Rain

Get that shot without harming your equipment

Woman shooting photos from atop a car

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As with any piece of electronics, water is not the friend of your digital camera, unless it's designed specifically for underwater use. Without protection, your camera is vulnerable to damage from rain and mist. But don't cancel that photo session just because it's raining: With the strategies below, you can get those shots regardless of the weather.

Protecting Your Equipment

  • Always carry a few dry camera cloths with you. Microfiber cloths that can clean all parts of the camera, including the lens and LCD, are a great choice. Keep them in a sealed plastic bag when they aren't in use to keep them dry.
Clean & Clear Microfiber Lens Cleaning Cloths
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  • Never use a t-shirt or your jeans to dry or clean the lens of the camera. Using anything but your camera cleaning cloths can scratch a camera's delicate lenses, LCD, and viewfinder. Plus, fibers from clothing can stick to lenses.
  • Keep a few towels handy, though. Drape these over the camera between shots to provide at least a little protection.
  • Use an all-weather camera bag. This will help keep the camera dry and protected when you aren't using it.
Lowepro SlingShot 100 All-Weather Digital Camera Backpack
 Amazon
  • Don't rely on an umbrella to keep your equipment dry. Holding an umbrella while trying to shoot photos is impossible. In addition, an umbrella won't prevent rain from blowing under it and hitting the camera.
  • Shoot from under an overhanging roof or other shelter. You might not catch every photo you want, but you and your equipment will stay dry. Here again, though, wind can negate your efforts, so try this approach only on a calm day.
  • Use a lens hood, camera jacket, or even plastic bags. Remember, the goal is to keep the equipment dry without impeding visibility from the lens.
Camera jacket
Amazon 
  • Throw a few moisture-absorbing silica gel packs in your camera bag. They help prevent condensation and speed drying.
Silica Pack
 Amazon

Stay Comfortable

If you're cold, wet, and miserable, you won't want to stick around for the moody, creative shots that rainy conditions make possible.

  • Don all-weather outerwear. Your camera is dry inside its bag, and you should be dry inside your jacket. At the very least, pack a rain jacket whenever you shoot outdoors. That way, you don't miss photo opps just because the weather changes. Bonus: You can tuck your equipment inside your jacket in a pinch.
  • Don't forget gloves. Wet often means cold, and if your hands are shaky or stiff, the quality of your shots will suffer.

Adjust for Conditions

Dreary, rainy weather necessitates a few adjustments:

  • Use a slow shutter speed. Much less light is available on cloudy, showery days.
  • Use a tripod. That slow shutter speed makes holding still crucial, and nothing does the job like a tripod.
  • Look for the light. Reflected light, light from buildings and storefronts, a break in the clouds — all can present opportunities for truly interesting shots.
Formerly known as Victoria Terminus, this is Mumbai's main railway station, reflected in puddles of water after the monsoon rain.
Andrew TB Tan / Getty Images