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12-12-2015, 04:31 AM   #1
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The Pentax weather resistance - how reliable?

In November 2010 I bought a K-5 and used it with a rather cheap Sigma zoom lens. In April 2011 I bought the rather expensive SMC-DA 18-135mm F3,5-5,6ED AL WR and got rid of the Sigma. In November 2013 i bought a K-3 and put on the SMC-DA 18-135mm F3,5-5,6ED AL WR. After this the K-5 has not been in use, and the K-3 has more or less always been used with the SMC-DA 18-135mm F3,5-5,6ED AL WR. 3 weeks ago (november 2015) the lens - for periods - started to work in manual focus only, even though the K-3 was set to autofocus. I wanted to try the lens on the K-5 (that had been stored away for 2 years), and a short while after the camera was switched on, it collapsed and went black (the displays!!). It was dead. The camera and lens were sent for repair - and the verdict: Both the camera and lens have severe damages due to CORROSION, and a repair would be very expensive. I have bought my Pentax cameras and lenses because of the brands WR capabilities (for it's brilliant tests resultsalso, off course), but the gear has under no circumstances been exposed to the conditions it presumable could be exposed to. Still both the camera and the lens collapsed after just 2 years (moderate) use because of corrosion. Is the Pentax WR really reliable???

12-12-2015, 05:14 AM - 1 Like   #2
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WR is questionable on any lens that is not IF (Internal Focusing). WR prevents dust to go inside the lens. Seals slow down air exchange between outside and inside the lens, but when a non-IF zoom extends when zooming in, outside air is pumped into the lens cavity and air is going out when zooming out (you can even hear the air flow when zooming in and out if you stick your hear at the camera body....). The problem is when we move from indoor to outdoor, for instance in winter , temperature and humidity changes rapidly, so what happens is humidity changes from gaz state to water coating inside the lens elements and other parts of the lens and does not dry easily because of the seals preventing inside to outside air diffusion when the lens is stored after use. For example, I've used my Tamron 17-50 (not WR) from indoor and outdoor spa in winter, when going back indoors the lens got full of condensed steam but fully dryed after a few hours in warm environment, however, if I had done the same with a Pentax WR lens, it would probably start to corrode as the condensed water would have stayed inside a lens for a while. In short, WR prevent humidity to enter the lens but does not suppress it, especially with non-IF zooms, and also prevents humidity to get out of the lens. I still see an advantage of WR to protect from dust and a bit of rain, but otherwise, otherwise it is not necessarily an advantage for zooms. On the DA*55 and DA*300 (both IF primes), I guess WR is a real advantage.

Last edited by biz-engineer; 12-12-2015 at 05:24 AM.
12-12-2015, 05:28 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChaWa Quote
but the gear has under no circumstances been exposed to the conditions it presumable could be exposed to.
Sorry to hear your tale, ChaWa, but you would have seen the cameras and lenses don't come with IPEX water proofing ratings, so you can't assume anything.

True of Canikon, too, AFAIK.
12-12-2015, 05:45 AM   #4
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... P.S. Lenses, WR or not , should be stored in a dry place.

12-12-2015, 05:58 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
WR is questionable on any lens that is not IF (Internal Focusing). WR prevents dust to go inside the lens. Seals slow down air exchange between outside and inside the lens, but when a non-IF zoom extends when zooming in, outside air is pumped into the lens cavity and air is going out when zooming out (you can even hear the air flow when zooming in and out if you stick your hear at the camera body....). The problem is when we move from indoor to outdoor, for instance in winter , temperature and humidity changes rapidly, so what happens is humidity changes from gaz state to water coating inside the lens elements and other parts of the lens and does not dry easily because of the seals preventing inside to outside air diffusion when the lens is stored after use. For example, I've used my Tamron 17-50 (not WR) from indoor and outdoor spa in winter, when going back indoors the lens got full of condensed steam but fully dryed after a few hours in warm environment, however, if I had done the same with a Pentax WR lens, it would probably start to corrode as the condensed water would have stayed inside a lens for a while. In short, WR prevent humidity to enter the lens but does not suppress it, especially with non-IF zooms, and also prevents humidity to get out of the lens. I still see an advantage of WR to protect from dust and a bit of rain, but otherwise, otherwise it is not necessarily an advantage for zooms. On the DA*55 and DA*300 (both IF primes), I guess WR is a real advantage.
Good points! I've always stored my gear in air tight Pelican cases with a rechargeable desiccant to keep things dry. What may have been problematic here is that the body cap on an unused K5 does not have a gasket for weather sealing....or that it was sealed but due to condensation as described previously trapped in moisture.

I've known photographers to also store their gear in closed garages because it helps to avoid the temperature swings, but the hot engine of the car naturally helps to keep the air dry.

Personally, unless you had a camera that was previously repaired or reconditioned, and was perhaps not properly re-sealed, I do trust the WR claims. I've gone into extreme conditions of hot humidity with a group of 20 photographers, and entered cold wet caves or entered micro climates near powerful waterfalls. Every Canon Rebel and Nikon D3000 and D5000 series DSLR will shutdown and their lenses fog. But all the WR bodies were unaffected which included a Pentax K-50, Nikon D7100, Df, D750, and Canon 6D and 5D MkIII. Sadly, my Pentax 645 with primes is not WR, and it just stops working when I shock it entering a high humidity environment.
12-12-2015, 08:38 AM   #6
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I had a non-weather sealed flash go into a pool. It still works after I disassembled it to dry it out.

I think these things are far more robust than people give them credit for.
12-12-2015, 09:05 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by MadMathMind Quote
I had a non-weather sealed flash go into a pool. It still works after I disassembled it to dry it out. I think these things are far more robust than people give them credit for.
Good to know. Have you tried with your 31ltd ?
12-12-2015, 09:31 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
WR prevents dust to go inside the lens. [...] I still see an advantage of WR to protect from dust and a bit of rain, but otherwise, otherwise it is not necessarily an advantage for zooms.
In contrast to AW lenses WR lenses are not advertised by Ricoh to be dust proof, just water resistant. WR seems to work much better against water compared to dust, whereas AW also keeps dust out.

12-12-2015, 10:17 AM   #9
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Weather Resistance is great!

But if you ever have to send your equipment in for repair, do not trust that the weather seals will remain intact!
I've had my K5 in all sorts of bad weather, including torrential downpours and even left it sitting it in the shower as an initial test... (BTW the shower is lower pressure than some rain storms I had been in)

Then I had it in for replacement of the stained sensor, which was common with that model.
A week or so after it came back from repair, I was in a light drizzle and the camera sucked up water like a sponge.
Ruined.

I trust the Pentax weather sealing, but I do not trust the repair centers that Pentax/Ricoh has chosen to return the product in same or better condition that it went in. I have come to expect that they will damage anything that they touch. (The K5 issue among many other was with CRIS. But I have had similar issues with poor repair with their latest repair center, Precision)
12-12-2015, 10:27 AM   #10
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Weather resistance is a good thing, if you don't trust it. All they're saying is it's more WR than someone else's regular lens and camera, not that it's Waterproof. I and Christmas cookie resistant, but every now and then I eat one.
12-12-2015, 12:52 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by biz-engineer Quote
Good to know. Have you tried with your 31ltd ?
It's gotten some sprinkles on it and survived without incident, but that one did not go into the water.

It was the AF540FGZ that went into the hot tub. The screen lost a segment on the LCD, but otherwise it's fine! The Cactus v6 also got pretty wet and it lived.
12-12-2015, 01:00 PM   #12
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For the OP's reference, several threads have recently explored the subject of weather resistance and water resistance, albeit they did not focus on the specific issue of corrosion.

For example:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/302338-weather-sealing.html

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/16-pentax-news-rumors/261716-new-pentax-u...therproof.html

- Craig
12-12-2015, 03:06 PM   #13
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@ChaWa, I have wondered about this possibility myself, since here in the PNW, my lenses are subjected to potential moisture in use. So far, no problems, but I have gone to some great lengths to ensure the lens has dried out as much as possible before it's put away in its moisture-free environment.

It's sad to know that a good lens could corrode inside without one's being able to see it, despite careful use. Sorry to hear of your experience.
12-12-2015, 03:11 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by normhead Quote
Weather resistance is a good thing, if you don't trust it. All they're saying is it's more WR than someone else's regular lens and camera, not that it's Waterproof. I [am] Christmas cookie resistant, but every now and then I eat one.
I own a K-3 and an ol' K20D and (along with far too many other lenses) a DA 55-300/4-5.8, and I recently picked up a HD DA 55-300/4-5.8 WR, but NOT as a replacement for the non-WR lens (which I don't plan on selling).

I got the WR version for one reason -- I wanted to go look for wildlife in less than ideal conditions, including rain and snow, and I knew that the non-WR 55-300 would need a lot of protecting, while the WR version less so. [I've taken that non-WR 55-300 and the K20D on a couple of hundred whale watches, but they were used judiciously, and were not used at all when either the rain or (especially) the salt spray got overly heavy.]

However, I will be taking the WR 55-300 out in the elements mounted to the K20D, and not to the K-3, because I don't fully "trust" WR (which, as some have rightly reminded us, does not mean "waterproof").

Personally, I was surprised when Pentax elected to "retrofit" WR technology to the DA 55-300/4-5.8, since it has neither IF nor "IZ" (i.e., "internal zoom"). In fact, I can't think of any lens that, when focused and zoomed, more drastically changes its length (and therefore its internal air volume) as does the 55-300. [I am not saying that there aren't any, but my point is that the 55-300 is quite a "non-IF and non-IZ" lens.]

In the rain or in wet snow (or even in just high-humidity conditions, especially in fog), there is NO way that a WR 55-300 mounted on a WR body is not going to suck in and shoot out (and suck in and shoot out, etc.) lots of dampness and possibly even suck in some liquid water.

So, if I find that my WR-equipped K20D/55-300 combo shows any water or moisture damage, I'll still at least have my K-3 and my non-WR 55-300 (and far too many other lenses) to play with.

And I'm not at all Christmas cookie resistant, myself. However, I don't like soggy Christmas cookies, so I keep them out of the rain and snow, even if they're supposedly cooked up as "WR" cookies. [But I digress...]
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