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Accessories Reviews

Think Tank Hydrophobia 70-200 Review

Victor Newman (vfnewman)


Keywords: think, tank, hydrophobia, 200en, bag, non_nikon

Show pages (4 Pages)

Nikonians Moderators Victor Newman and Martin Turner recently teamed up to share their thoughts on the new Hydrophobia70-200 rain cover from Think Tank Photo. Victor wrote the main review, and was supported by Martin's product shots and caption material (as well as his own personal conclusions). In case anyone notices that Martin's "English" is a bit different in style and spelling, that's because he's from the United Kingdom. 
 

Fig 1-Hydro

Do you ever wish life came with more labels? The hydrophobia does — big, bright blue labels telling you how to use it. Although this might seem a little gaudy, it sure beats a user manual (grip the item with your right finger by sproggett 1 etc). In this picture I've (evidently) mounted it on a tripod, and pulled out the extra lens cover which normally sits tucked away. That's the bit hanging down. On the right is the lens; on the left is the camera, and the bit that looks like part of an old-fashioned film changing bag is where you put your hand. -Martin

We'll start with Martin's major observations first:

The Think Tank 70-200 Hydrophobia is a heavily rubberised nylon cover designed for a Nikon deep body SLR, such as a D3, fitted with a 70-200 lens, for prolonged use in the heaviest imaginable rain conditions.


 

It will work with shallow body cameras such as the D700, and with shorter lenses, such as the 24-70, and, because it generously fits the 70-200 even with the hood on, it would work with a longer lens, though not with a substantially fatter lens.

It's heavily engineered for a long life, and with various additions, such as a place to store your main camera strap, an alternative square fitting for shallow-body camera eyepieces, and an end cover, but it will scrunch up quite small if you need it to. The whole thing is very light — not something which you are going to wish you hadn't brought on a long day of photography. Aside from a very small couple of niggles, I wholeheartedly endorse this — it's good kit, and fills a hole in the market.
 


Think Tank: To most English-speaking people, the phrase conjures images of an institution, often politically-oriented, of intellectuals, thinkers and theorists. To savvy photographers it simply means the best and most ingenuously-designed photo accessories anywhere.

Think Tank's newest offering, the Hydrophobia 70-200 rain cover, is no exception to their well-known track record of supplying the best equipment of its type.. A cover for professional DSLRs with an attached lens the size of a typical 70-200mm f/2.8, this is yet another example of the company's ability to consistently turn out equipment of the highest quality and outstanding functionality.

For some time I have owned and used Think Tank's Hydrophobia 300-600. I have found it to be far superior to an equivalent rain cover from a competing manufacturer. With this experience behind me, I had high expectations when I found out I would get to test this new cover. I was not disappointed.


 

Upon unpacking and laying out the cover, it's immediately evident that this cover is made from the same material as the Hydrophobia 300-600—a sort of rip-stop nylon that's light weight and nicely flexible. The next thing I noticed is that, like its larger brother, it has an integral Velcro-closured pouch for storing the camera's standard eyepiece cover while the required Think Tank eyepiece adapter (which must be purchased separately) is in use. And most notably of all, the Hydrophobia 70-200 incorporates a very clever integrated neckstrap that makes carrying the assembly much, much easier than trying to use your own neckstrap through the rain cover.

Fig 2 Hydro

Going round the front — do you see what I mean about it being clearly labeled? — You tighten the end of the lens cover with a velcro-ised strap. I had to have a couple of goes at this, because the style of hood on the 70-200 means you can easily get bits of the strap over the lens. Once fitted, though, it sits nicely. -Martin

The Hydrophobia 70-200, unlike its closest competitor, provides the user with two openings to access the camera. Upon using the cover, I found this to be even more beneficial than I ever expected. Battery changes, in particular, are much easier with the Hydrophobia.

A very large clear window at the rear affords a great view of the back of the camera, making it easy to see the

Fig 3 Hydro

The rear clear window on the back is certainly clear enough to see the camera controls and the menus, but you won't want to be carefully checking the focus. On the other hand, your chances of doing this in a rainstorm weren't good anyway. -Martin

screen and buttons. I tested the cover in a snowstorm and temperatures around 30 deg. F and found the window to remain nice and flexible. And a flip-down eyepiece cover, secured in both positions by Velcro, make for the final touch in terms of protecting the camera body in any conditions you care to subject yourself to.


Attaching the cover to a camera is quick and easy. With a 70-200mm f/2.8 on my D300, I didn't need to detach the lens from the camera in order to attach the cover. To make proper use of the cover's integrated neckstrap, the user must clip a small interior strap around the lens near the Figure 4 – The "shower cap" Victor was referring to on the front. -Martin rear mount. It's not difficult, but definitely critical to securely holding the camera with the Hydrophobia's strap. There are drawstrings at all the arm openings, and the opening for the lens is lined with a “grippy” rubbery layer of material that ensures that the cover stays in place over the lens. A lens cover resembling a shower cap completes the ensemble.


 

One other thing I tried for myself was to fit the Hydrophobia 70-200 to both my D3 and D300 with the Sigma 120-300 f/2.8 attached. There was little room to spare, but the cover worked just fine for this enormous lens. And here the second hand opening REALLY proved its value, as the left opening can be used to provide the needed access to attach monopod to the lens.

Fig 4 Hydro

The "shower cap" Victor was referring to on the front. -Martin

Think Tank's integrated neckstrap design is worth more discussion. Including a neckstrap in the rain cover is the type of ingenuity Think Tank is known for. And it's not just ingenuity for the sake of ingenuity. This is practical stuff. The interior lens strap is substantial and secure, and assures that the camera and lens will be safely restrained. The interior and exterior straps both attach to a rigid gusset sewn into the cover. This provides a strong attachment point for both straps and a way of securely and effectively transferring the weight of the camera from one strap to the other.

Fig 5 Hydro

Although you can use it in both landscape and portrait mode, it isn't quite as good in portrait, as seen here. -Martin

Think Tank even went as far as to put an elastic “Camera Strap Retainer” inside the cover for the purpose of restraining the user's customary neckstrap already on the camera. In use, I found this arrangement to work extremely well.


Fig 6 Hydro

Snow child. -Victor

The best day I had to test the Hydrophobia 70-200 coincided with a mighty snow storm at my house. I spent a few hours traipsing around the yard with my two children, ages 5 and 7. Between the continuously-falling snow, and the kids' tendency to occasionally throw snow at me, I simply wouldn't have taken a camera out with us if I hadn't had the cover.

Fig 7 Hydro

Snow truck. -Victor

The Hydrophobia did a perfect job of protecting the camera from the snow. The large rear window proved to work extremely well. I tried changing the battery and flash card, just to judge how much room was available for the operations. The view afforded by the large window made the task go much easier. Above and beyond all the observations, the final proof lies in the fact that at the end of the kids' play time in the snow, my camera was the only thing among all of that was still dry. In conclusion, the Hydrophobia 70-200 is exactly what one would expect from Think Tank Photo. The quality and attention to detail in manufacturing are of the highest standards. The design is clearly born of a combination of ingenuity, practicality, and lessons that can only be learned from first-hand experience. The Hydrophobia 70-200 is easily the best product of its type anywhere.


 

…. And we finish by checking in on Martin Turner's "niggles" ----

So, what were my niggles?
First, it is a bit of a fiddle to get this on and tighten up the lens cover over the hood. You really won't want to take the lens out of it until you need to. On the other hand, it's actually fairly easy to change camera bodies while using this. I swapped my D3 and my D2X over without any trouble.

Second, although you can use it in both landscape and portrait mode, it isn't quite as good in portrait, as seen in Figure 5. Given that it's been designed for deep body SLRs with a vertical grip, this is slightly sub-optimal. On the other hand, when you turn your hand the other way, for example when using a shallow body SLR, it fits more comfortably.

Third, the zip fastener underneath is less waterproof than the rest of the cover. This is a normally fine when it stays underneath — and you don't have it done up at all on a tripod — but is a bit more of a liability when carrying it. This is all vastly more watertight than the camera on its own, but don't make the mistake of thinking that it's in a bag.

Final verdict: I've always found the D3 and D2X to be highly weatherproof. The lenses, though, are not. You can put on lens armour or other things, but the truth is, they don't like getting wet. If you are going to be out shooting for any prolonged period of time in bad weather, this is a very sensible investment to keep your high-priced equipment dry.

Victor-Newman-Bio-mug

Victor Newman (vfnewman) is a Moderator/Administrator and Charter member in the Nikonians community with more than 4199 posts. Victor is our Head of Equipment Testing and is Moderator of:
- Image Making & Shooting Issues / Shooting Panorams
- Image Making & Shooting Issues / Sports & Action Photography

Martin Turner is a Communications director in the UK's National Health Service, shooting PR and advertising. He's been a very active member with more than 3,420 posts and is a Moderator for the Constructive Critique & Technical Advice, and Glamour & Portrait, Commercial & Studio Photography forums. His photographic career spans global business, international charities, the arts, politics and elite sports. He lives with his wife Marjolein in Warwickshire, England, and plays guitar and fences when his other activities leave him free time.

Martin-Turner-Bio-mug

 

(2 Votes )
Show pages (4 Pages)

Originally written on August 5, 2010

Last updated on April 22, 2016

Victor Newman Victor Newman (vfnewman)

Awarded for his multiple contributions to Resources Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014

Forest, USA
Gold, 4805 posts

1 comment

Maurice Piper (Wild_Things) on August 9, 2010

Thanks for this - been keeping my eyes out for something to cope with the English summer ..

G