Weather Sealed Lenses (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm…) Complete List

Have you ever considered adding weather sealed lenses to your collection? With more weather sealed cameras available than ever before, you’ll need a weatherized lens to completely protect your kit.

Weather Sealed Lenses (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fujifilm...) Complete List

Older film lenses didn’t have all of the modern electronic elements that today’s lenses have. Stabilization and focusing systems, custom function buttons, electronic aperture controls, and other elements mean the lens is constantly connected to the camera. And if you’re out in the elements and heavy rain shorts out your camera, you might even lose a lens at the same time!

Let’s take a look at weather sealed lenses and whether they’re right for you.

How Do Weather Sealed Lenses Work?

Lenses are usually weather sealed through a series of rubber gaskets that protect the most vulnerable points of the assembly. These lenses often include a rubber ring gasket on the rear of the lens where it joins to the camera mount. Keep in mind that weather sealed lenses need a weather sealed camera to be relevant. If your lens is sealed but not the body then dust or water can still penetrate and ruin the camera and/or lens. And vice versa.

Given the complexity of their optical design, zoom lenses take far more work to properly protect compared to prime lenses. The protective elements need to avoid being compromised as the lens telescopes in and out. Many lenses also intake air as they zoom, which can also allow dust and moisture to penetrate. The fixed focal length of a prime lens gives them far fewer points of failure relative to a zoom.

Weather sealed Fujifilm XT2 camera and Fujinon 18-135 lens
My weather sealed travel combo: Fujifilm XT2 body and Fujinon 18-135mm lens

Manufacturers like Canon often use elastic materials where elements need to adjust to allow flexibility without compromising the weather sealing. And lenses that include customizable function buttons like many Olympus Pro lenses will have rubber around the button edges for added protection.

Weather Sealed and Waterproof are NOT the Same!

If you own weather sealed lenses and cameras you’ll naturally be tempted to take them out into the elements. More adventurous types might even take their setup into the splash zone of the ocean or a river to get good action photography. However, weather sealed does not mean waterproof! 

Any consumer-level interchangeable lens camera isn’t submersible. Some compact cameras are but nothing that allows you to swap lenses; the mount is just too much of a failure point. While any sort of dust or water is a challenge, salt water is especially bad to expose photography equipment too. Specialized waterproof cameras exist that can shrug off ocean exposure with a simple rinse. But don’t underestimate the corrosive power of even brief exposure to salt water.

The Pacific Ocean coast with strong winds always requires weather sealed setup.

Condensation Can Still Occur within Weatherized Lenses

One issue that can cause damage to cameras and lenses alike is condensation. While some weather sealed lenses don’t intake air when they zoom, you’ll still be introducing air each time you remove a lens. If that air is moist, then you’ll see condensation form when moving from extremes in temperature quickly. Weather sealing is meant to keep water from penetrating from without, not from within. The only real protection against condensation is to be aware of temperature and humidity gradients and to move carefully between them. 

Walking at the bottom of the sea when the tide was low, required weather sealing for my gear.

Weather Sealed Lenses Can Vary in Quality

Water resistant and waterproof equipment usually has an IPX rating that specifically details how much water the lens or camera can take. Very few manufacturers save Olympus actually provide these. For the others, we should do our best to look past the hype and advertisements featuring cameras and lenses being submerged under running waterfalls. Read the language they actually use Here’s an example from the Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS USM:

“As a member of the esteemed L-series, this lens is sealed against dust and moisture for working in inclement environmental conditions.”

Dust and moisture sealing is common to weather sealing but is a far cry from waterproof!

Rain and splashes for salt water is the lethal combination for unprotected photography gear.

Do I Absolutely Need Weather Sealed Lenses?

Weather sealed lenses are an excellent insurance policy if you intend to do photography in inclement weather. Weather sealing doesn’t add much weight and often adds durability as well as water resistance.

What if you own a weatherized camera? Well, if you purchased the body because weather sealing was important to you then you really should have weather sealed lenses or you’re not getting your money’s worth. The lens mount is a major opening on the camera body. Non-weather sealed lenses don’t have the rear rubber gasket that prevents dust and moisture from working its way into the lens mount (and possibly the sensor).

It’s worth noting that many of the best lenses, such as Canon’s L and RF-series lenses are weatherized regardless of whether you need it or not. While it still means your non-weather sealed Canon body is vulnerable to rain, it’s one less point of egress for potential problems. 

Canon Weather Sealed Lenses

Nikon Weather Sealed Lenses

Sony Weather Sealed Lenses

Fujifilm Weather Sealed Lenses

Olympus Weather Sealed Lenses

Panasonic Weather Sealed Lenses

Conclusion

Weather sealed lenses are a useful piece of equipment for nearly any photographer. You do gain maximum benefit when paired with a weather sealed camera. But it’s also worth mentioning that weather sealed lenses are usually the top choices within the particular lens brand. Canon L and Sony G Master lenses are usually weather sealed for top performance in all conditions. So chances are, if image quality is your priority, you’ll be buying a weather sealed lens whether you want to be out in the elements or not!

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