Note that due to the smaller sensor of Micro Four-Thirds, all stated focal lengths should be doubled to get the 35mm equivalent. All photos made the Olympus OM-D E-M5 at base ISO, processed through LR5. Most from JPEG, a few from RAW.
I've said before I think every electronic product should be weather sealed, particularly our cameras (you can check out my blog post on the matter here). Still, sometimes I think I take the issue too seriously and imagine an umbrella, rainsleeve, and a little foresight would suffice for most. But then days like yesterday happen.
I had planned to hang out with a good friend of mine at Roosevelt Island, a small territory in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. The weather forecast was uncertain: partly cloudy with chance of isolated storms (hint, hint). We left her house with a relatively clear sky above us.
When we emerged from the subway station, however, the picture was quite different.
It was absolutely pouring, so we figured we'd try and wait it out for a bit. Ten minutes passed and no change came, so grabbed our umbrellas and committed to braving out the storm. A little water wouldn't hurt us, after all.
My camera though? That's a bit of a different story. Partially, anyway: the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is weather sealed for rain and dust when using a matching lens. Even if I'd have to relegate my best, weather-vulnerable lenses to storage (the Olympus short portrait lens and the expensive Panasonic-Leica normal lens), I was very much excited to get another chance to try out the OM-D's weather sealing with the its kit zoom lens. This lens usually just stays in my camera bag unless I need something wider than 50mm equivalent, the occasional macro shot, or of course, something to withstand the rain.
Well, this rain was no joke.
I was standing under a decent-sized umbrella, but that clearly wouldn't have been enough to protect my other lenses.
Even under the mighty Queensboro bridge, I wasn't completely safe.
And then... sunlight. As we arrived at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park at the southernmost tip of the island, the sky cleared up. You might have never thought it rained were it not for the wet ground.
I could even pull out the my expensive Leica lens again.
Of course, my portrait lens wouldn't be left behind.
After this we explored the rest of the island. As afternoon turned to evening, however, I realized I'd never taken a photo of the great sculpture of FDR at the park because I was so shocked by the change in weather. We decided to walk back to the park so I could get that shot; how could I not when Roosevelt was one of my favorite presidents and it was the eve of Independence Day?
As my luck would have it, as soon as we entered the park a small sunshower began, which would quickly evolve into legitimate rain by the time we arrived at the monument. I switched back to my 12-50 from the 45 as soon as I felt the water, but I wasn't satisfied with the images I was getting this time. The lens just wasn't bringing out the details of the sculpture. The way the intricate, quietly determined expression of the piece was rendered somber by the surrounding rain felt extremely powerful to me, and I wanted to capture that scene as best I could.
Thus, I risked lens and sensor damage by carefully switching to my 45mm in the pouring rain under my umbrella, and got what was my favorite shot of the day.
There were a few drops of rain on the lens regardless of my carefulness; thankfully nothing was damaged as far as I can tell. But wouldn't it be nice if I wouldn't have to worry about it? Of course I risked my sensor by switching lenses in the rain, but that is easier to cover up, and I'd rather have one failure point than two. How amazing it would be if I could have used any or all of my lenses without having to worry about a little water. There's so much beauty to be found on rainy days like these, and I wish more camera manufacturers would appreciate that. While preparation is ideal, sometimes your greatest memories are crafted in a bit of spontaneity. I'll skip the rain check.