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.