Tips for Using Cameras in the Rain

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 usage, that is.

With a standard camera in rainy weather, you have the added problem that water could stick to your lens and ruin your photos.

However, just because it's raining, that doesn't necessarily mean that you should cancel your photography session.

Wet Camera Tips

  • Always carry a few dry cloths with you, preferably a type of cloth that can clean all parts of the camera, including the lens and LCD. Keep the cloths in a sealed plastic bag when they aren't in use to keep them dry.
  • Don't use a t-shirt or your jeans to try to dry the lens of the camera. To be sure that you're going to keep the lens from getting scratched, you really need to use a microfiber cloth that's specifically designed to clean lenses safely.
  • Keep a few towels handy, too, that you can drape over the camera between shots. Although these towels will get wet, too, they can provide at least a little protection while you're using the camera.
  • Make sure you have an all-weather camera bag, or you're wearing all-weather clothing. You then can at least keep the camera dry and protected (in the bag or under your clothing) when you aren't using it.
  • Avoid relying on an umbrella to keep your equipment dry. Unless you are confident you can shoot photos one-handed all day — which is not recommended with any camera but a tiny point and shoot model — holding the umbrella while trying to shoot with both hands is impossible. In addition, if the weather is also windy, the umbrella won't prevent rain from blowing under it and hitting the camera.
  • If you can shoot from under an overhanging roof or other type of permanent shelter, do it. You might not obtain every photo you want, but you will stay dry. Again, wind-blown rain can ruin this strategy.
  • You can try using a plastic bag or towel draped over the top of the camera to keep it somewhat dry. If possible, depending on the model of camera, attach a lens hood to keep the lens protected from rain.
  • Finally, if you're focused keeping your equipment dry, you might forget one key component of shooting in the rain: On a cloudy, rainy day, the external light is much less than normal. With less light available, your camera may need to shoot at a slow shutter speed, meaning having a tripod available is a good idea.
  • If you can bring some external lighting, you may want to have additional lights available. With these lights, you also may be able to shoot a photo with the rain falling, which can be a really interesting shot.