14 March 2014

Review: Op/Tech Rainsleeve

As foul weather photography is sometimes unavoidable and is anyway often interesting despite the challenges, over time I have acquired three different protective rain covers for my camera gear.  The Op/Tech one is the most basic, but also the most compact, and the cheapest.  (By a VERY large margin.)  Plus it does exactly what it says it will - keeps my camera dry! 

It is made of thin plastic, in a sort of 'almost L' shape - there's the flash version shown left, but I use the non-flash version.  It has a drawstring at one end, and a hole about half way along through which you can fit your viewfinder.  This means you can compose your shots without struggling to see through the plastic.  

The thin plastic means you can use the camera controls from outside or inside the Rainsleeve, but I didn't feel the camera was very secure when I was holding it through the plastic, so kept my arm and hand inside, as Op/Tech in fact appear to recommend.  

This worked especially well for me since I hate neckstraps and usually use wriststraps instead (also from Op/Tech!).  So my camera was secure and I could reach all I needed very easily.  You need to use a lens hood with the Rainsleeve as otherwise the drawstring doesn't sit comfortably at the end of the lens.  The hood also helped keep the rain off the front element of the lens!  I found that I had to loosen the drawstring a little as otherwise zooming the lens was awkward, but it was easy to still keep it tight enough to keep the lens protected.

The thin nature of this cover means that it folds up very small indeed, and can be packed into even the smallest camera bag.  Just be careful to ensure it has no opportunity to get snagged.  With care, they last well.  I have been using one of mine for a couple of years with no nicks or tears in it yet.

Rainsleeves come in pairs.  You can carry a spare, or keep one in each camera bag, as I do.  I had used one of mine previously, but last year it really came into its own when I was photographing a Lancaster from close quarters - in torrential rain.  Other visitors scattered far and wide, but I pulled the Rainsleeve over my camera and kept on shooting.  I finished the day with plenty of photographs, and a dry camera.  (There were a few comments about 'the person with the camera in a plastic bag', but handsome is as handsome does, eh!)

Taxying in Torrential Rain

Sunshine and (Heavy) Showers

You Can See The Rain On The Turret
For the price, around £6 a pack as I write, these are unbeatable value and could save the day.  I can't recommend them highly enough.  Just make sure that the 'viewfinder hole' is actually over the viewfinder, and not above the camera, otherwise you might find water where you don't want it!

You can buy them in the UK from WEX Photographic, or several other photographic retailers.
They're readily available despite being an American product.

(The Lancaster is 'Just Jane', and can be seen taxying on a regular basis at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby.  Very, VERY well worth a visit.)

Product images used by kind permission of Op/Tech USA.

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