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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 and grumpy photographer writing this. 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.

ThinkTank Photo Hydrophobia 300-600

Hydrophobia 300-600 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

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.

Hydrophobia 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.

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: Nikon D series owners (D3s, D4s, D5s etc) with the DK-19 rubber eye cup can just use that instead.

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.

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.

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.

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!

Final thoughts

The Hydrophobia 300-600 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.

Also featured
The tripod and head used in the photos and video are the Gitzo GT5541LS and Wimberley MKII.

About the author

Richard Peters is a Surrey based professional wildlife photographer, Nikon Ambassador, and one of the few British photographers to receive the accolade of European Wildlife Photographer of the Year. He is known for a style that often favours dramatic use of light, runs wildlife photography workshops and, from camera clubs to big industry events, holds talks about his work.

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