I don’t generally like…

… photography blogs that go on at great length about products and gear: often these simply seem to reproduce tedious press releases (someone once told me that ‘a product press release is hype in a pretty font’), and at other times it is just delight in acquiring lots of stuff that lacks any sense of how it might be used, with lots of photos of equipment, rather than photos made with equipment.

So I’m slightly wary about writing this entry, but what I have recently bought is going to make a big difference to me, especially in my beautiful but often rather rainy home country of Scotland.  Just before the new year (when the UK’s awful ConDem government raised VAT – a sales tax, if you’re reading this from outside the UK), I ordered a ThinkTank Hydrophobia 70-200 raincover:

ThinkTank Hydrophobia 70-200

ThinkTank Hydrophobia 70-200

I ordered it (and the special eyepiece) from Harrison Cameras, who delivered very promptly despite the holiday period – I can recommend them!  And I need not have worried about the tax rise quite so much – Harrison’s are keeping their prices at the old rate for the moment (so be quick if you want one too…!).

Although it looks pretty good, I wasn’t completely convinced by it when it arrived, not least because to start with it took quite some time to put it securely round the camera, carefully following the instruction manual (and my wife thinks men don’t read manuals… pah!).  But now that I’m used to it, it really is GREAT – once set up, it allows easy access to all the settings, the viewfinder, and the rear display, and even in heavy rain the camera stayed completely dry.  My D90 plus battery pack easily fits inside, and ThinkTank say it will be big enough for a professional camera such as the D700 or D3. So if you’re looking for a rain cover for an SLR camera, this is one I can definitely recommend! 🙂

There are two caveats I would make:

  1. it is designed to be able to cover a lens as long as the Nikon 70-200mm (drool…), so my 18-200mm will easily fit, as will the slightly longer cheap old 70-300mm.  However, today I had the 10-24mm out with me, and the fabric had to be very scrunched up to stop it covering the front of the lens. This means that this rain cover would not be suitable for something like my 35mm or 50mm primes, so if, like me, you love to use this kind of lens, you might need to think about alternative covers (of course, this also means I won’t be using it with my Nikon FM2, which is very small compared to the D90, even without the extra battery pack).  Having said that, if it is raining a lot, you might be reluctant to be changing lenses much and so a multi-purpose zoom could be just right, making this the perfect rain cover.
  2. because – obviously – the normal camera strap is inside the cover (there’s a very clever wee elasticated strap inside the cover to fold it into – ThinkTank have thought of almost everything!), there needs to be a strap for the rain cover itself.  Unfortunately, the one that is provided is disappointingly narrow, so that even through a heavy raincoat, fleece and thick woolly jumper, I could feel it digging into my shoulders.  I use an air-padded strap from Calumet for the D90 that is fantastically good, and so I will probably find myself buying another one to replace the cheap thin one on the ThinkTank cover.

One of the things that perhaps makes a difference with this product is that ThinkTank was created in part by good photographers who clearly have substantial input in the design of their products – and (apart from the strap) it really shows!