Ever wondered how we get camera equipment into the backcountry? Or how we keep that equipment safe and dry when the weather is less than bluebird? Let us introduce you to Peak Design, makers of the Capture Clip and the Peak Design Shell.
Action cameras make it easy to get some wild shots – they have waterproof cases and stick onto things. And phones have phenomenal cameras that you can slip into a jacket pocket for safe keeping. But sometimes those won’t cut it and you need a real camera. For those situations, we carry a Sony a6000 and three lenses – a 16-50 zoom, a 55-210 zoom, and a 19mm prime. The Sony isn’t really weather resistant, but we like to have it available – meaning not stashed deep in a pack – for snapping shots. That means we need to keep it covered somehow.
The Peak Design Shell takes the waterproof/breathable protection of your jacket and puts it in a camera-shaped package. Fabric is thicker than your usual technical shell and features some stretch to help get the camera situated inside. Seams on the section that covers the camera body are taped and should be fully waterproof. Seams on the lens section are not taped. In practice, because the camera should be carried lens down, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Drawcords around the lens end and the camera body base let you cinch things down in nastier weather. If you have a quick release plate attached as we do, it can remain exposed for mounting on a tripod or into Peak Design’s Capture Clip. There are also two slits that coincide with where most cameras have their strap loops. With Peak Design’s Anchor Links, you can have the links sticking out, allowing you to quickly and easily attach and detach one of their straps. Not to worry – the slits are offset so the camera is not exposed to the elements when they’re in use.
Peak added a stiffened brim to the lens end of the shell to keep it out of the way if you’re not using a hood. There’s also a thin, elastic loop sewn into the Shell that you can put around your lens. The Shell hangs from the loop of you pull it off completely while shooting.
Overall, we think that Peak put a lot of thought into the features of the Shell and it shows – we really can’t think of a single thing we’d change.
With the a6000 body, there’s enough length to keep the 55-210 lens completely covered. Unfortunately, you’re not going to fit one of Sony’s big, G lenses inside the small Shell. Also unfortunately, that length means it’s a bit harder to use the Shell when you have a shorter lens on. It was an obvious design choice by Peak and probably the correct one – keep a longer lens covered at the cost of some awkwardness on shorter lenses rather than leave the long lens exposed.
We really wanted to be able to pull the camera off the Capture Clip, peel the Shell off, and shoot. You can do that, but it’s not quite as smooth as we’d hoped. Frankly, we’re not sure the Shell was designed for that. There are other solutions for shooting in a heavy downpour.
Where the Shell shines, however, is in keeping your camera protected while being carried in the Capture Clip. The combination of the two products allows you to keep your camera accessible in less than perfect weather so you won’t miss a shot while scrambling to pull things out of your pack. A quick pull – aim, focus, shoot – and your camera is back in the Clip, protected.
The Shell kept things dry during our two days testing skis at the SIA on snow demo at Copper Mountain. Even blowing snow didn’t penetrate the Shell’s protection. With the opening at the base of the camera body – a necessary feature – we worry that a torrential rain would be able to sneak past the Shell. Unfortunately, it hasn’t rained since we received the Shell, so we haven’t been able to try it out. We will, though!
Wrapping it up
The Peak Design Shell is a well-designed waterproof jacket for your camera. We think it, in conjunction with the Capture Clip, is a great addition to your kit if you like hiking, skiing, or otherwise being active and want to bring a real camera along for the ride. You’ll catch more shots and your camera will be secure and protected.
- Fits a wide range of bodies and lenses
- Some seams not sealed
- Fits a wide range of bodies and lenses