Every photographer leaving the house with equipment instantly realizes that all of the material should remain absolutely dry during a rainstorm. Hiding somewhere can certainly be an option, but then some nice shots could be missed. Staying in the rain without protection can cause a lot of damage to the camera and/or lens.
Some photographers put a cloth over their lens to protect it from rain as where others will use a plastic bag. These are very cheap solutions, but undoubtedly you will agree that our most desirable and expensive photo gear should be protected by the best possible means available. Some time ago Think Tank launched the "Hydrophobia". The rain covers are really professional and available in 3 versions: version 70-200mm lens with & without flash and a version for the 300 to 600mm lenses. I got the chance to test the 70-200 version without flash as well as the largest version.
As in Belgium, the rain showers can be intense, I wanted to test the rain covers during a festival last summer. During one of the concerts it rained so hard, that I was almost the only photographer who remained standing. Everyone thought I was crazy. After the shoot, I checked the material in the pressroom and everything was perfectly dry (except for my own clothing …)!
To attach your lens and camera to the Think Tank Hydrophobia, you’ll need to have some practice. You should start with the special viewfinder piece and mount it onto your camera. Then you have to open the rain cover and put your lens and body in it. At the height of your sun hood, place the rain cover and tighten the strap. Close the strap from the rain cover around your lens. Now the lens is attached to your rain cover and you can close the zipper (also waterproof) and start shooting.
The process for the Hydrophobia 300-600 is similar to the above method, with the exception of the attachment of the lens to your rain cover and the use of the strap of the sleeve. For the 600mm lens there is an extra piece included for the second hood of a 600mm lens. As the placement of this rain cover requires some skills and especially some time to complete, you can find a special compartment (at the end of your lens) to store the rest of the sleeve until it starts to rain. The only thing you need to do is pull the cover over your camera and close the rubber part around the viewfinder. Very handy!
When you receive the rain covers, the transparent part at the level of the LCD window of your camera is not really transparent. You'll get a little bit of a "plastic polish" product in the package. Personally, I preferred to buy a bottle of "Meguiars PlastX" online. This product is recommended by Think Tank and works very well: indeed the transparent plastic is now perfectly transparent!
If you compare the Think Tank Hydrophobia with other rain covers, it’s glass clear: these rain covers are lonely at the top. Everything is finished to perfection and therefore you can feel entirely confident to keep shooting in heavy rain – care free.
Combination with tripod:
How to put the rain cover over your lens and camera, you could read earlier in this review. Now, we want the entire combination on a tripod. Well, you simply open the zipper at the bottom and place your foot on the lens. Afterwards you can close the zipper again.
The Think Tank Hydrophobia are available in 3 versions: 70-200mm without flash, 70-200mm with flash & 300-600mm. The 70-200mm rain covers are also usable with smaller lenses. Since I rarely use a flash at concerts, I didn’t need the version with flash, but motorsport or football photographers will do their job in all weather conditions (also in heavy rain) and they will love the version with flash.
For about 140-165 € (viewfinder piece is sold separately at € 35), you have a professional rain cover. So if you regularly have to deal with rainy circumstances, this rain cover is a must.