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ThinkTank Photo: Hydrophobia 300-600 review [video]

Time to get wet (or, hopefully not)! If you shoot with a telephoto lens from 300mm upwards, and want to keep it dry in the rain, snow or even protect it from sand, then the Hydrophobia 300-600 from ThinkTank Photo is certainly worth looking at. I turned the hose on mine to give it a good testing – thankfully it passed, otherwise there would be a very wet Nikon D3 and 600mm going cheap on eBay! This is my fist video review as well, as I thought it would be nice to see the cover as well as just read about it.

Overview
Weight: 299g (10.5oz)
Main cover size: 25″ long x 8.5″ diameter (63.5 x 22 cm)
600mm extension size: 7.75” long x 8.5” diameter (20 x 22 cm)
Extras: Eye piece adapter, sold separately
Links: ThinkTank Photo.com *reader offer: link enables orders over $50 of any ThinkTank gear to choose free bag at checkout*

Where to buy: If you’re in the USA you can buy it direct from the link above, and if you’re in the UK you can buy it from Speed Graphic – which is where mine came from.

The video
I’ve kept the review a little shorter than I usually would, mainly because I hope the video will give you a good idea of what the cover is all about.
Quick tip: Click the four little arrows symbol, bottom right of the video below to view at full size.

If you prefer, you can also watch the video on YouTube

Features
I had wanted to get a rainproof cover for my camera for a while but was unsure what to get. For a while I used a home made one, built by my friend and fellow photographer Colin Pickett, but had always had that urge to see what the purpose built ones were all about. I looked at some of the cheaper ones and the more expensive, but in the end it was my prior knowledge of the build quality of ThinkTanks products that swung my vote.

The cover is fully seam-sealed, stitched and built to the usual high standard I have come to expect from ThinkTank. It has some nice little touches and if you are familiar with their range then you’ll know the type of thing you can expect to find here. The main features of the cover include:

Clear plastic windows on the rear so you can see the controls and LCD screens of your camera – although the Nikon D3 main LCD is partly obscured with the cover on, as shown in the video above.
UPDATE: There is a new version 2 of the Hydrophobia which has an improved rear plastic section, allowing the rear LCD screen and controls to be viewed fully.

Plastic covers to view LCD screens and controls

A small pocket on the side of the cover for the eye piece. The eye piece adapter is sold separate as they are specific to the type of camera you shoot with.
Quick Tip: In a comment below, I was informed Nikon D series owners (D2x, D3x, D3s etc) with the DK-19 rubber eye cup can just use that instead.

Pocket for eye piece adapter

Sleeves on either side of the cover so you can get both arms in and fully operate your camera and lens even with the cover in use.

Sleeves for easy camera operation

There is also a second smaller section of cover. This is the 600mm extension piece which you can attach if you shoot with these larger telephoto lenses. I don’t use this second piece because my 600mm has a split lens hood and I don’t usually use the second section of it. You can attach the extension in two ways, either the way I have shown with the main cover tucked under the extension, or with the extension tucked under the main cover – which is probably the better way if it’s staying on long term and you don’t expect to take it off all day (but I did it the other way as it shows the size of the extension piece better for these photos). I wondered at first why the extension was not just part of the cover itself, but I assume it was to stop there being too much excess material bunched up if you are using smaller telephotos like a 300mm.

600mm extension piece on and off

The Hydrophobia has an additional flap that acts as a storage area when you don’t need the camera covered up. Handy if you don’t need the cover on constantly as it saves you having to take it on and off.

Built in storage to keep out way when not in use

More than just protection from rain
As well as rain the cover obviously protects from snow too, but also, if you shoot on beaches it will help keep sand out of your gear as well! I know all to well what the sound of sand in a focus ring or zoom ring sounds like, and it isn’t pretty! When I was in Holland the Hydrophobia worked great in conjunction with the Skimmer Ground Pod from Naturescapes.net – the perfect combination for protecting your camera from sand whilst getting those lovely intimate low level shots of shore birds!

Hydrophobia protects from sand too

To sum up
The Hydrophobia works really well in use – undo one rubber sealed zip, pull the cover over the lens and camera, do up the zip, fasten a couple of velcro straps and you are basically done! Because it can be easily attached and stored on the lens it’s fast to setup and once in use, doesn’t stop any access to the camera and you can operate everything as normal PLUS it is big enough that you can have your favourite teleconverter on the lens too. An added bonus is once your arms are in the sleeves it not only stops them getting wet but also blocks wind as well, so your hands don’t suffer as much from the weather conditions around you.

ThinkTank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600

Also featured
The tripod and head used in the photos and video are the Gitzo GT5541LS and Wimberley MKII, both of which I reviewed in the Camera Support section of the blog.

And don’t forget
You can view all the other videos on my blog here.

Also, why not subscribe to my YouTube channel or my Vimeo channel.

Sime

Hey Richard, Thank you for sharing!! Great review, If you’re OK with it – I’ll post it up on the Think Tank Photo Facebook page and point a link back to you – let me know that’s OK (You have my email) –Thanks!

Sime

Richard Peters

Go for it :)

Pasquier

Sounds like a great piece of gear – now if I could only afford a Nikkor 600mm f4.0 to go with it…:)
“There’s no bad weather – only bad gear”.

Richard Peters

lol, great quote. So true…!

Simon Leech

Hi Richard, good review. Have been using the Hydrophobia for a while and agree with everything you say. Just one comment for D3 users – if you are using the Nikon DK-19 rubber eyecup, which I would recommend for everyone, there is no need to buy the additional ThinkTank eyepiece, as the Hydrophobia will mount well around that without the need for additional parts.

Richard Peters

Excellent tip Simon, many thanks for pointing that out – I’ll stick it in the main review so it gets seen more easily!

terry

It’s a shame that the eye piece is not included in the price. The price of camera gear is bloated & very disturbing, we’re photographers, not oil baron’s. ThinkTank is make up of photographers, they should have a little sympathy for the artists of the hobby, or profession that they love.

Simon Leech

I discussed this with Doug at TTP when they first released the product, and he told me the reason they kept the eyepiece separate was due to the different eyepieces that each camera uses, plus the need to keep the water out. It was not possible to create a ‘universal’ eyepiece that would work for every single camera, so instead they made customised eyepieces for the most popular models, to maximise the water resistance.

Yes, ThinkTank gear is expensive, but when you start to use it you realise that it is worth every penny that you pay. You pay for the quality, and the excellence in design and workmanship.

Richard Peters

Aquatech also charge extra for the eyepiece on their range of covers…and their covers are even more expensive! It’s the only way to go with the various types of camera out there I think.

Troy

Richard,
Thank you. I need to get one for this for sure.
What is the stand you have for using your wimberley on the sand?

Richard Peters

Thanks Troy, that is the Ground Pod II from naturescapes.net – a video review of which is coming soon ;)

Troy

Looking forward to it. I want to get one, I like getting on ground getting eye level.

Wedding Photography Leeds

Sometimes in the winter I could do with one of these for my wedding photography. I have a D300s and a D700 but i’ve yet to risk using them anywhere near water. How water tight are these cameras, anyone got any experience of using in wet weather?

Thanks

Clare

Richard Peters

I got stuck on an airboat in the middle of the Florida Everglades during a heavy downpour with no cover for my D3 with 70-200. I put the camera under my tshirt but it still got soaked although it worked just fine. They are quite good at keeping water out in the short term, but for longer exposure to really heavy rain I wouldn’t be without some form of cover.

Alan

Hi Richard,

In your opinion Is this product too big / overkill for a D700 or D300 plus grip with a 200-400 and a tele?

Cheers

Alan

Richard Peters

Alan, so sorry for my delayed reply. When I get a chance I’ll set up the 200-400 & D300 and stick the Hydro on so you can see how it fits :)

Alan

Cheers Richard, much appreciated.

mk

Hi Richard, thank you for this review. I have one question. Is it possible to use hydrophobia when switching between horizontal and vertical shooting? Is the hole for tripod mount big enough? And I guess that vertical grip is unreachable through the sleeve. Thanks.

Richard Peters

Good question, there is always something you forget to add in a review! Yes, you can turn it and operate in vertical and portrait with the cover on, you just need to make sure you allow enough slack for the twist when you tighten the velcro on the lens hood.

And you’ve just reminded my I need to get a photo of the cover on the 200-400 as well!!

mk

Thansk for the answer. Still can’t decide between original Canon rain cover and Hydrophobia…

Richard Peters

I don’t have any experience of the Canon cover, but the ThinkTank is good. Either one will protect the camera from the rain I’m sure :)

Leeds Wedding Photographer

Many thanks for your reply Richard.

I think you are right they probably would do ok in the short term but I very much doubt I would risk it.
I even have a Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 that I could probably hammer nails in with its so tough but it never leaves my case on a rainy day.

Clare

Senthil

Hello Richard,

Appreciate the review. Is the top LCD visible on the version 1 or is V2 necessary?

Thanks,
Senthil

Senthil

On Nikon D3s/D700/D300.

Thanks,
Senthil

Richard Peters

I would recommend the V2, in fact, I would imagine it’s the only version that you’ll be able to buy now!

Senthil

Thanks a lot Richard. There are a few places where I find version 1 as well for about $100 (V2 is $160). So was wondering abt saving a few $ :-)