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Protect your camera from rain and snow for less than $1

Water is the worst enemy of your expensive camera gear. Protect your camera and lenses from rain and snow with this $1 hack.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Using expensive camera gear in the rain or snow is never advisable, but sometimes, its the only way to get the shots you need.

If you need to use a camera in inclement weather and you don't have a rain cover, you can make one yourself with common items in just a few seconds. Best of all, it will cost you less than a buck.

What you'll need

This makeshift rain cover comes from photographer Benjamin Jaworskyj. It won't work with just any camera. It works best with those with interchangeable lenses - a dSLR or some mirrorless cameras.

You will also need a lens hood. Otherwise, the lens will be exposed to the falling rain or snow, which could damage it. Aside from that, you need just two things to make the rain cover: a small plastic bag, such as a 4 gallon (15 liter) trash bag, and a rubber band (or two).

How to make the rain cover

This hack is very straightforward. To put it together, first mount your camera on a tripod and install the lens hood on the end of the lens. Then:

  • Take the plastic bag and pull the open end over the camera, lens side first.
  • Stretch the rubber band over the lens and place it at the base of the lens hood.
  • Make a hole in the plastic bag in front of the lens and pull it back towards the rubber band to move it out of frame.

As long as the bag is not torn or ripped in any way, your equipment should be relatively safe from water damage. From the open end of the bag, you can still access your camera viewfinder and controls.

With a bag made of translucent plastic, you can even see and use the controls without having to stick your entire head inside the open end.

A word of caution

Be aware, though, that this makeshift cover isn't foolproof. Plastic bags can easily get holes in them, exposing your camera to water and ultimately damaging thousands of dollars of equipment.

Beyond that, you could try substituting the plastic bag with a thicker plastic, such as 6 Mil plastic sheets or even a clear plastic rain poncho, which would be less susceptible to tearing.

Also, take note of the water and dust resistance of both your camera and lenses before ever considering shooting in the rain. The camera Jaworskyj uses is already resistant to dust and water, and the lens shown in the video has an expensive flourine coating on the front element to further protect it. So even if there's a puncture in the plastic coating, his gear isn't left totally unprotected. A camera or lens without those extra protections can be subjected to irreparable damages if exposed to water.

Further, you can purchase far more durable rain covers for anywhere between $10 (£7.59 or AU$13.13) and $50 (£37.95 or AU$65.65). But this option is easy for protecting your camera in a pinch, as Jaworskyj notes, more comfortable to use than the bulkier protection.