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how important is weather sealing?

by SKNJ / November 6, 2008 5:28 PM PST

I'm a hobbyist looking to go much further during the next couple of years, and trying to decide on my next step up dslr, and it's between the Nikon d90 or d300.

Now, I like the price of the d90, (especially with the economy as of late!) and am sure that I won't out grow it for a long enough period of time to be a worthwhile purchase.

However, I'm living and traveling in Asia and SE Asia, and am touring from the sands of Mongolia to past Cambodia, much of which will be during respective monsoon seasons, sometimes in the jungle.

Bearing these climates and conditions in mind, is a weather and dust sealed model such as the d300 (with it's 18-200 kit option) a must?

That's a big step-up in price.

My gut is telling me yes, my wallet however, is singing a different tune.

Any advice?

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it will be important
by kalel33-20416052469708587370302374692233 / November 6, 2008 9:17 PM PST

My body and lens do not have weathersealing, but I don't take it in the conditions you will. I would buy one if I were you. If your worried about price, then take a look at the new Pentax cameras, they are all weathersealed. The K20 was rated very highly in reviews. I never pimp out Pentax, but this might be a good choice for you.

Here's a review of the K20
http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/pentaxk20d/

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Most definitely yes
by JayMonster / November 6, 2008 10:08 PM PST

Remember that weather sealing isn't only important when directly in rain, etc but in very wet humid environments as well, and when traveling in monsoon season, or even when in extended periods in coastal regions, the ambient humidity is just as damaging (perhaps not as quickly) as being directly in wet conditions.

In those cases weather sealing is a must to avoid getting moisture in the internals, where you can wind up with "fog" as well as plain old water damage.

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My personal suggestion.
by jump1127 / November 12, 2008 12:24 AM PST

About a few week back, I shot my 1Ds mark III out in the rain for H.R.H princess's funeral. The location was near the grand palace in Bangkok where the humidity is really awful during the monsoon. Even thought the camera worked fine, my L-lenses couldn't bear the humidity. I ended up putting my equipment in my camera's case after the humidity caused so much vapor all over my lenses. No matter how good the camera's weather proof is, there always are some limits.

The better alternative ? You can instead spend for a $10-20 camera's rainsleeve. That really serve your purpose for shooting out whether it's raining, humid, and dusty environment. The design, I bought, is to cover a DSRL camera with 70-200mm lense along with a hug-up flash, and able to mounting on a tripod. That will even save your money to spend on a weatherproof DSLR camera.

Good luck.

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If you need to ask...
by Jelly Baby / November 14, 2008 5:59 PM PST

Living in Scotland, I found my old D80 wasn't weatherproof enough for the kind of things which I wanted it to do so I sold it and bought a D200 which has never let me down.
If you find yourself asking a question like this then you are obviously not going to put the camera away when the sun vanishes so I'd suggest going for the D300.
It's not just the weather sealing, the D300 is a much better camera to use than the D90 with quicker access to settings and a more robust construction. The down side, as well as the price, is the extra weight

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To much ain't enough.
by tulsa steve / November 14, 2008 9:54 PM PST

You can never go wrong in protecting your gear, from simple plastic wrap to full on water tight blimps. I have had old 35mm cameras freeze because of the humidity inside of the body compared to the outside air temp. Digital gear is no better when it comes to weather proofing some folks have good luck with their stuff mine always seems to fog up when going from warm to cold. I would invest in the best you can buy simply because it will save you alot of headaches and time waiting on your camera to warm up or in my case thaw out.
Great shooting and good luck.

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Sealing...
by forkboy1965 / November 15, 2008 2:05 AM PST

When I purchased my Canon 40D last year, one of its features was that it was better sealed against external environs than other cameras I was then considering.

While I would never think to take it out in a pouring rain, I do believe the sealing helps prevent moisture (in the way of humidity), dust and fine particulates from getting into the camera.

If given the choice I would always go for a camera that offers better sealing against the elements. In addition, a sound bit of advice I received from my local camera shop can help eliminate instances of fogging, etc. when there are marked differences in environmental conditions between where the camera is current kept and where it will be used: place your camera equipment (body, lens, flash) into a sealed bag and place said bag in the environment in which you are going to shoot for at least an hour before handling. Repeat the process in reverse.

Example: during the winter here in SW Ohio, if I am heading outdoors to shoot I always place my equipment in a garbage bag and place it in the garage for an hour or two before taking off to wherever it is I intend to shoot. I reverse the process when I come home; placing the bagged kit in the much warmer house.

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Wrong brand maybe?....
by MusicPhoto / November 15, 2008 6:24 PM PST

First off, I should say, that I am a dual-system user, with extensive Nikon and Olympus gear. You situation is exactly, where I would choose Olympus above anything else. The reason I decided to put in my $0.02 here, is because I not only own the cameras you mentioned, but have been living in Asia for 2 years already, traveling extensively as well.

As far as DSLR bodies, I currently own (and therefore have a lot of experience with) the D700 full-frame, D300, and D90 DX cameras, and 2 Olympus bodies: E3 and E-510.

You have been considering the D300 only, which has a very limited weather-sealing compared to my Olympus E-3. The D-300 withstands dust and moisture just fine, but I still need to run for cover if ever caught in rain. The bigger problem however is your choice of the 18-200 zoom, which has absolutely no sealing !! The lens is just as important - if not more - to be sealed, as the camera if you ever expect to be shooting in inclement weather. The Nikkor super-zoom is very prone to dust and moisture issues, and since it is not sealed around the mount either, it kind of makes no sense to go for the D300 at all.

Unless you are heavily "invested" in Nikon gear already, for your purposes, honestly I would get an Oly E-3 with a matching weather-sealed 12-60 SWD zoom (24-120mm equiv.) and have the best travel setup. You can shoot in heavy rain, with no worries at all. I know, I have done it ....

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You get what you pay for.
by wayneepalmer / November 17, 2008 5:42 AM PST

One thing also to keep in mind on this weather seal issue: quality almost always buys survivability and careful use is always advised.

My old Nikon 35mm's traveled over much of the planet during my 10 years in the Navy and they got beat around, weather-fogged, wet, snowed on, taken out in sandstorms, and got salt water on them, too. I did a bit of shooting topside during several typhoons (watch for wave, duck, pop up, shoot, duck, watch for wave, pop up too soon ... ooops splash!). They took a pounding.

You buy toughness when you can. The structural difference between the newer non-professional Nikon D's below the D200 is the metal body. Of course the pro units (D1's thru D3's) are basically bullet-proof ... you might break the lens, the mirror, or the ccd or knock something internal out of alignment, but you will really have to try before you damage the body.

Simply put - the D200, 300, and 700's have a stronger frames and tighter tolerances and will survive harder use. Even with the better sealing many photog's I know wrap their units in towels to keep them dry, clean them up after every use, and put dessicant packs in their bags to remove moisture. No matter how good the gear, you got to care for it to keep it.

One more thing: the lower cost Nikon's ones are restricted on lens types, too, so if your matching your camera to older lenses keep that in mind.

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thanks a lot for the advice!
by SKNJ / November 19, 2008 6:41 PM PST

Yeah, that definitely makes a heck of a lot of sense, and I can judge from the consensus alone that a weather sealed model is a must.

I checked out the recommended Olympus, it looks nice for sure, but it doesn't seem to be a great low-light shooter, which is pretty important for my purposes.

I've done a lot of research, I like the d300's feature set and more, but apparently the lens I had in mind is a liability. How does one go about finding good, weather sealed lenses? It seems to be a more uncommon feature, at least with nikon, which seems odd considering the brand's unfortunate use of lens image stabilization.

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