« The Price of Being Small and Taking Risks | Main | Reality Is Not Arithmetic »

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


That's interesting because I have the original 5d and had it out in a heavy mist/fog about 5 years ago. It turned to the slightest hint of rain...incredibly slight. The camera fritzed out after 3 minutes and didn't work again for 5 days. Still working good now, several years later but I lost a lot of respect for the durability of the camera.

Just to be clear, I didn't have the camera "out in the rain". The top of the camera was about as wet as if you ran a wet hand on top of it.

The 5D is quite a tank. I received the 5D Mark 1 a few months after starting work from my company. I was doing a shoot only a few weeks after getting the camera with a stylist and editor (the shoot was going to be in a book so the editor was on set). I had the camera 6 feet off the ground on a heavy duty Bogen tripod. Half way through the shoot, the editor steps into the scene to make an adjustment to the setup, and smashes into the tripod, sending it toppling toward the cement floor. I watched in terror as the new company owned 5D and 24-105 "L" lens went crashing camera first onto the ground. I must have stood their with my mouth open for a full 30 seconds before mustering the courage to survey the damage. Even though the camera took all of the impact from the fall, it was in perfect shape, just a small scratch where it hit the ground. The lens too was fine and still works perfectly. I was amazed, and relieved.

Are these the same models that failed on Reichman's antartic trip?

My son took his 8-day-old Sony W150 and gave it an (inadvertent) swim in the ocean. We took it out, rinsed it in fresh water, and let it dry for several days... and it's still going, a few months later. The pictures are still serviceable (certainly for him); it has more lens flare than it did before. But as a survival story, it's pretty amazing.

I never pay much attention to these stories, but in an odd coincidence (to me at least), I was just reading a similar story about a Nikon D300 surviving a dive into 12 feet of water: http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1039&thread=32370300

I don't really have anything to add, just thought it was odd to come across two of these stories in short succession.


I don't want to try this with a camera, but I dropped my car keys (with electronic remote) on the beach once on an overnight fishing trip, and found them the next morning after the tide had washed over them for several hours. The battery in the remote had spilled it innards, so I tossed it, then rinsed the remains with plenty of fresh water. When I got home I pulled out the circuit board, scrubbed it with more fresh water and a toothbrush, then rinsed it in methylated spirits (alcohol). After drying it in the kitchen oven on low heatfor a few hours, the remote worked fine. That was a few years ago now, and it's still working. I'm not sure I'd trust that approach with a complex electromechanical device like a dSLR. Even with Pentax's weatherproofing I'll stay out of the rain if possible, thanks.

ps. Mike, when will we hear your thoughts on the Pentax DA15 lens?

"Canons Take a Dunking and Keep on Clicking"

By John Cameron Swayze, or Timex?

i certainly feel better about taking the 5dmk2 out shooting in the rain after hearing that two survived a dunking...

The rice trick is a good one - used in on a mobile phone which fell down the toilet (don't ask), and after a couple of days drying, it seemed to work fine, and continued to do so for 2 or 3 months. Then it started to behave oddly, and eventually became unusable.

I was told that although it is possible to dry these things out, one the circuit boards have come into contact with water, corrosion begins. It may take a while, but odds are the camera is terminally in. You may as well put in your insurance claim while you dry the camera out. Better than having a 'fixed' camera let you down when it really matters.



@misha, I wish I'd thought of that for the title to my article LOL!

Thanks so much for posting my blog (planet5D) here!

Needless to say, there is always a fair bit of luck involved if your camera or lens is going to survive water or a fall.

Of course, the simple and strongly built cameras of "the good old times" often survived falls very well. My copy of the canon Ftb, the 'Old' F's little brother, survived all sorts and on the account of others has often survived 200 and 300 meters drops down mountains with just the back coming off, and the most extreme temperature and humidity conditions, such as being frozen all night with icicles, humid jungles and the like.

My friend who introduced me to the world of Pentax DSLRs a few months ago told me about icicles forming on his K20 on top of the Kilimanjaro as he continued shooting.

I say power to the manufacturers who make reasonably affordable point-and-shoots, DSLRs and lenses that are designed so they can take a fall or some wetness. Why should we take a huge step back just because of switching to digital?

Another anecdote, I fell into a river with a Canon 870 IS buttoned in my shirt pocket. I swam back over to the shore - about 30 or 45 seconds, I'd guess.

Camera worked fine the next day and has continued to work for 18 months.

Two years ago, I was taking photos from a cliff over the Atlantic ocean in Southern France, and for some reason, a single wave decided to go for me. I got soaked, so did the camera (original 5D) and the lens (50mm 1.4). Back to the hotel, I removed battery, CF card and lens but didn't dare to wash it (again) with freshwater. Even though it stopped functionning for a few days, it has been working perfectly well since then (in spite of a fall in the rocks that gave it a few dents a few weeks later). The lens however had suffered most as it would refuse any kind of focusing (auto or manual). I decided to take it apart, clean up what looked corroded, and put it back together (I was not sure I would be able at the time, but I managed, in spite of a few vicious screws). That was enough to fix it and both 5D and lens have been used pretty much every day since then.

Maybe corrosion is slowly eating them both from inside. If so, I'll find out soon enough.

My experience with drowned cameras goes back to the film age, but I think there is something to learn from. I drowned two cameras ( it seems like I’m already an expert, at least in this regard), a Canon EOS 300 and a Hasselblad XPAN, the first one while fording a stream in Iceland, the second one on a Kayak Tour in Switzerland. Both cameras were in the water for at least one minute, the XPAN probably longer. Both cameras came back to life after drying them for 1 to 2 days. However, the Canon lubricants seem to have deteriorated, as the camera stopped working frequently at temperatures below -5°C. With this experience in mind, I did send in my Hasselblad for service and “re-lubrication”.

The comments to this entry are closed.