When Weather Sealed Cameras Matter

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Cold Cargo – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T1

I’ve always felt that, for me, a weather sealed camera isn’t essential. It’s certainly a nice feature, but not something I just have to have. Cameras that aren’t weather sealed can handle the elements to an extent, and oftentimes there are easy steps to mitigate the weather conditions (such as an umbrella), so I haven’t found it to be a limiting factor to my photography. Yet, there have been times that having a weather sealed camera has allowed me to “get the shot” when I might not have otherwise.

Fujifilm has a few cameras with weather sealing. The X-T0, X-Pro, and X-H series are all weather sealed, while the X-T00, X-T000, X-A, X-M, XF, X-E, X100, and X00 series (am I missing any?) are not. I’ve owned a few of these non-weather-sealed cameras, and I’ve used them with success in conditions that might warrant weather sealing. Take a look at the pictures below:

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Monte Cristo Mountain Snow – Monte Cristo Mountains, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

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Out In The Cold – Cedar City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30

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Umbrella Overpass – Edmonds, WA – Fujifilm X100F

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Dust In The Wind – Bonneville Salt Flats, UT – Fujifilm X-E1

The photographs above were all captured in conditions where a weather sealed camera would have been nice, but I got along just fine without it. The X-E1, X100F and X-T30, which are the cameras that I used for those pictures, are not weather sealed; despite that, I was able to get the picture that I wanted. I didn’t allow it limit my photography.

A weather sealed camera allows you to photograph with confidence in more extreme conditions, such as cold, rain, snow and dust. While non-weather-sealed cameras might get the job done, a weather sealed camera definitely will. Each time that I pushed the envelope on what my camera was designed to handle, it worked fine, but I worried about it. I hoped that I wasn’t ruining an expensive photographic tool.

There was one situation where I know that if I hadn’t used a weather sealed camera, I would have ruined the camera, or at least would have had to have it serviced. More likely, I wouldn’t have photographed at all, knowing that the camera couldn’t handle it, and I would have missed some great pictures. But I did have a weather sealed camera, and I have the shots that I wanted. Those pictures, which were captured on a windy day at Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado using an X-Pro2, are below:

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From Dust To Dust – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Sandal – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

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Passerby – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2

The conclusion is this: you don’t need a weather sealed camera until you do. Almost always your non-weather-sealed camera will suffice, especially if you take action to mitigate the conditions, but occasionally you might run into a situation where you really do need weather sealed gear. In those circumstances, you’ll either get the shot because of your camera, you’ll get the shot in spite of your camera (and you might find yourself in the market for a new one), or you won’t get the shot because of your camera. I do think those situations are rare for most people, and whether or not you have weather sealed gear is unimportant for most, but it’s sure nice to have it when you need it.

19 comments

  1. abnuceals · January 14

    When I had my XT-20, I missed some occasion to take pictures. I remember a morning in Cuba, it was so humid and it was so fuggy in my camera, it took half an hour to rid of fok in my lens. Now I have an XT-3 and I am happy with it. I used it in coooooooold temperature in Canada and in rainy days in Europe last fall. No weather seals, no pictures. It is such easy.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 14

      Sometimes that’s the case. You don’t need weather sealing until you do, and if you don’t have it, you likely won’t get the shot.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Philip Philippidis · January 14

    As long as you pair a weather-sealed camera with a weather-sealed lens, since not all of Fujinon lenses are weather-sealed.
    Also, rubber gaskets and O-rings degrade with time, especially if the camera (or lens) spent most of its life in hot and dry climates, so an old camera’s weather-sealing may be compromised and not succeed in holding water out of it, after all. So, caution is always advised.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 14

      Those are great points! A weather sealed camera requires a weather sealed lens to actually be weather sealed.

      Like

  3. Ricardo Richon Guzman · January 14

    With this post and the last also (the one of the “old” X-T1 is like :

    GET AN X100F as soon as they drop when the X100V arrives….

    The X100F still will be a really good camera in a few years also (even with no “weather” protection)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 14

      Yes, it’s an excellent camera and will be for years to come. I’m sure the price will drop significantly very soon.

      Like

  4. Tim · January 14

    Doesn’t the lens have to be weather sealed too?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 14

      Yes, that’s a great point. You need both a weather sealed camera and weather sealed lens in order to be weather sealed.

      Like

      • Tim · January 14

        So what would happen if I use my xpro2 with the XF 18 (which is not weather sealed)?

        Do I risk the lens or the lens and the body at the mounting point?

        Like

      • Ritchie Roesch · January 14

        You probably risk both, but it’s a small risk, I think. I’ve gone out in the rain and snow using non-weather-sealed gear, and nothing happened. Dust and (really) cold are probably the biggest worries. I wouldn’t dunk anything in a pool of water, but I doubt a little rain will hurt anything. Still, there is a risk, albeit small.

        Like

  5. Luís Costa · January 14

    Beautiful images, Ritchie!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Khürt Williams · January 15

    I don’t think I could ever again be without weather sealing. I shoot a lot of landscape and nature photography and I am often out in weather that is damper than just snow flurries. And even in light snow, if one stays outside long enough the snow will melt on the camera to the point where it can be drenched.

    This posts, https://islandinthenet.com/stokes-state-forest/, describes a time when a few of my friends and I were caught out in a torrential downpour with our Nikons in the middle of a forest. Umbrellas would have become lightning rods so we didn’t bring any. The rain had drenched our camera equipment and Walts Nikon quit working.

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 15

      Absolutely. You don’t need it until you do, then either you miss the shot or ruin your gear (potentially both) if you don’t have it. Most circumstances don’t require it, but some certainly do, and it’s much more than just “nice to have” weather sealing in those cases.

      Like

  7. James Symmonds · January 16

    Unfortunately, I’ve learned the hard way that claims of being a sealed camera don’t mean anything, especially where sand is involved. (The military has learned this lesson the hard way too.) Tight tolerances can actually work against you. One grain of sand can make a vital button or switch stick.

    Had that happen on my Nikon D700 back in 2011/2012. D700’s were known to be really tough cameras. I was at a beach south of Sydney and thought I had been absolutely careful about sand. Somehow as is always the case, a few grains had made it into my back…. and somewhere around one of the buttons. Causing the button to continuously trigger and render the camera unusable. I was supposed to shoot the NYE fireworks the next night. I missed the early show and only got the camera functional by luck just before the main event.

    Learned my lesson. A) Never trust claims of weather resistance. You never know when you might have a deviation in manufacturing standards sitting in your hands. B) Tighter tolerances can actually cause more issues where sand and fine grit are involved. This is why very lose build tolerance guns like those from Russia or Israel are preferred in desert environments. The sand just shakes out.

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · January 20

      I think many people don’t realize that sand is a big problem. Yes, rain or snow can be bad, but boy oh boy dust will cause some major problems fast!

      Like

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