As winter rapidly approaches, with all the talk in the news papers of mini-iceages, cold spells and the knowledge that winter generally means rain here in the UK I thought it would be a good time to take a look at a rain cover.
Rain covers for the PMW-F3 are few and far between at the moment, so when Rene at CamRade told me that they were producing a tailored rain cover (or wet suit as they call it) for the F3 I had to get my hands on one to take a look.
The cover arrived in a nice compact pouch made from the same high quality waterproof fabric as the cover itself. This fabric is some kind of soft rubberised material that feels very tough, yet is very flexible and soft to the touch, which is important if you have the camera up against your face. According to CamRade this soft material helps reduce the noise that rain drops falling on the can camera make. The cover is a tailored loose fit with velcro straps and fastenings that can be used to take up any excessive slack.
There are clear panels on the left side, more about them in minute. There’s an elasticated opening for a gun microphone at the front as well as a velcro protected opening on the right side for cable access to the XLR connectors. This opens up into a small tube so keeps the cable entry well protected from the weather. Along the top of the camera handle there is a long velcro opening to give access to the carry handle and top of the camera. This opening folds over to one side and is secured by a small velcro pad so that should not collect and rain when not in use.
The main clear panel on the left side of the cover can be opened out and expanded so the the F3′s LCD panel can be used in the open position. the clever design allows the LCD to be viewed from above, from in front as well as from the rear, so you can continue to use the LCD panel in the rain. However in practice rain falling on the cover itself will tend to obscure or distort the images on the LCD to some extent. Ahh… the joy of shooting in the rain!!
You can of course use the rear VF if you wish as this sticks out through a hole in the back of the rain cover. The rear of the cover opens up via velcro for easy battery access and will easily accommodate oversize batteries. I think the rear end of this cover is it weakest area and personally I’d like a cover that completely encloses the rear viewfinder, but that’s just me.
Another feature on the left side of the cover is a clear window that allows you to see the lenses focus and iris rings and markings. If your using a long lens the cover comes with a clear extension that attaches to the front of the main cover and makes it long enough to to protect much longer lenses including lenses like the Optimo 16-24 zoom. This extension piece comes with a strip of self adhesive velcro that can be attached to the lens to stop it flapping around in the wind.
On the right side of the cover there is an opening under a flap that allows you to insert your hand into the cover so you can grip the camera via the hand grip without having to open up the rain cover. I really liked this feature. The bottom of the cover has small side flaps that will prevent rain from running off under the camera or onto the very top of your tripod. A nice touch.
I’ve had many small camera rain covers over the years. Very often they are so stiff and ridged that they are a complete nuisance to use. The material used in this cover is really nice and makes the camera reasonably easy to use even when trussed up inside the cover. The fold out clear cover for the LCD means that rain should not prevent you from being able to carry on shooting due to the camera becoming wet.
I give this cover 7/10. It would be 9/10 if the rear end was a little neater and there was a way to cover the EVF, but as small camera rain covers go, it’s a good one.