Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2006/08/26

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Subject: [Leica] Re: Non-waterproof Leica
From: lrzeitlin at (Lawrence Zeitlin)
Date: Sat Aug 26 12:20:15 2006
References: <>

Without belaboring the issue of Leicas at sea for too long, we must  
remember that Leica cameras are not now and never were intended to be  
water tolerant.  Equipments for use in a marine environment are rated  
for the degree of water resistance by a number of agencies. The scale  
ranges from 1 to 10 with the lower numbers meaning less water  
resistance. An object (marine radio, camera, binocular, etc.) rated  
JIS-4/IPX-4 is considered splash resistant but not suitable for  
immersion. Objects with a lower raitng can withstand light rain  
showers or heavy mist but no direct application of water. Most marine  
handheld radios or "waterproof" cameras such as the Pentax Optio 10  
are rated JIS-7/IPX-7. This means that they will withstand a 30  
minute dunking under one meter of water and still operate. Real  
waterproofing starts at JIS/IPX ratings of 8. A device so rated will  
function after it has been submerged under 8 feet of water for  half  
an hour and at lesser depths for an indefinite period. True  
underwater equipment like the Nikonos series of cameras will function  
normally when submerged at a depth of 160 feet (50 meters). But even  
they are not suitable for deep sea diving.

Trivia: In bygone years, Nikonos cameras were permitted in surgical  
operating rooms because they could be sterilized by dunking in a  
bucket of bleach.

Small boats are not the best environment for precision mechanical and  
electrical equipment unless suitably sealed for marine use. By a  
small boat, I mean anything from a kayak or canoe to a 40 foot  
motorsailer. In ordinary use. on anything but extremely sheltered  
waters,  boats this size get doused with green water from waves and  
in windy conditions are covered with spray. Kayaks, canoes, and small  
sailboats capsize and are righted by their crews as a part of normal  
operation. Bigger boats offer drier conditions and some degree of  
shelter from the elements but even cruise liners occasionally get  
water on deck.

I'm not saying that Leicas will fail immediately if they get wet, but  
they have little water resistance to speak of. I'm gazing fondly at  
my M3 as I write this and I see that water can enter through the  
shutter release, the winding lever, the rewind lever, the frame  
lever, the lens release button, the speed dial, the back inspection  
door, and the base plate. There are no seals on any of these  
openings.  The innards of the camera are loaded with small steel  
parts, springs and bearings that will deteriorate if water enters and  
the camera is not immediately dried. Spray, particularly salt spray  
should be wiped off immediately. Even high humidity wrecks its havoc,  
as anyone who has used a camera in the Asian monsoon season knows.

If you use your Leica regularly in a marine environment or at the  
beach and it functions well forever after, you are lucky. But I still  
wouldn't take mine on a canoe trip unless it was packed in a  
waterproof bag and I used it only on dry land. There are other  
cameras which will do the job on the water. A used Nikonos with an  
excellent Nikkor  35 mm F2.8 lens costs only about as much as a Leica  
CLA. Why take the risk?

Larry Z

Replies: Reply from lmc at (Luis Miguel Castañeda) ([Leica] Re: Non-waterproof Leica)
Reply from bd at (B. D. Colen) ([Leica] Re: Non-waterproof Leica)
Reply from telyt at (Douglas Herr) ([Leica] Re: Non-waterproof Leica)