Great Protection, Affordable Price: the CamKote Camera Cover
a review by Greg Boston
A few weeks ago, while on the phone with fellow DV Info member Torrey Harris, I learned that he did a lot of hunting videography. I asked him if he could recommend a good camera cover and without hesitation, he told me to have a look at www.camkote.com. As it turns out, CamKote makes some really nice, yet affordable ($155 for XL1 / XL1S and $165 for the XL2 including shipping) rain covers for the Canon XL and GL series as well as the Sony VX2000.
I was all set to order my cover online when a hiccup occurred on the server at checkout. "No problem," I thought, "I'll just call them on the phone." Lucky for me that I had make that call. I spoke with Chris Killillay and found out that the XL1 cover I was about to order online would not have fit the XL2. The cover for the XL2 as Chris pointed out, is larger overall and has a couple of differences from its predecessor. The viewfinder sleeve is larger, and the clear plastic window which allows you to see the LCD display on the camera's left side is further back by about 1.5 inches. Due to the larger size of the XL2 cover, CamKote charges an additional $10 for it. Still, it's a great bargain compared to what some of the "well known" brands charge!
A few days later, the box showed up on my doorstep and I went about unpacking the cover while looking for some instructions or other documentation. Alas, there was none! It comes as a main cover, a detachable strap, a removable lens bonnet attached by velcro, and an extension sleeve for those who have adapters that make the lens physically longer. So, after a bit of wrestling around, I did manage to get the cover on the camera but a little printed guidance at this point would have been helpful. The construction quality, as the accompanying photos illustrate, is very good. All the seams are stitched well, the zippers are easy to operate, and the thinsulate inner lining is soft textured and won't scratch up your camera. The drawstrings for the mic and viewfinder sleeves have a velcro loop to strap down the slack string and keep it out of the way. Internal pouches can hold heat packets like you get at sports and outdoor shops but I didn't have any on hand to try out. They are to help keep the camera warm and dry on really cold days since parts of the camera could get rusty if moisture were allowed to build up, a nice touch.
While waiting for some rain to show up here in Dallas (good thing I didn't order during the summer months), I learned how to quickly get the camera in and out of the cover. I like to unzip it at the bottom and slide the camera into place with the microphone going into its sleeve first. I learned through trial and error that the viewfinder offers the least resistance if you turn it straight up while placing it into its sleeve. So far, so good. Okay, there is one thing that is both good and bad . There is a lot of extra room at the back. If you don't have anything like an AB brick or wireless receiver mounted on back of the camera, it tends to move around a lot inside so getting the drawstring of the lens sleeve behind the lens hood is crucial to keeping the camera where it belongs and keeping the cover out of your shot. On the other hand, if you do have accessories mounted to the back, rest assured that CamKote left plenty of room for them. Might even be a good place to stuff a towel to dry things off periodically!
Today was finally my lucky day. The skies opened up and gave me my first chance to take the XL2 out to 'play' in the rain. Look at the accompanying photos to see yours truly running the camera on the sticks and having no problems whatsoever accessing the controls. Let's just say It gave me great comfort to see the water beading up on the cover and falling harmlessly away from my camera. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this cover to the rest of the DV-INFO community if they own one of the cameras listed above.
In summary, I really can't find anything bad to say about the CamKote rain cover other than the lack of any included instructions. The 1000 denier cordura vinyl backed outer construction should last for years with proper care. The thinsulate inner construction is both comfortable and protective for the operator and camera. I know it sounds cliche but, at this price, you really can't afford not to have a good cover to protect your investment... especially if you shoot outdoors a lot. I should also mention that Chris Killillay of CamKote was every bit as professional and courteous as our DV Info sponsors. I felt very comfortable with my purchase from them. If you have the XL2, you'll need to call in as they don't have this cover listed on the website just yet. Visit www.camkote.com or call them at (801) 599-3786.
Torrey, you were right about this cover. Good call, my friend!
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Written by Greg Boston.
Thrown together by Chris Hurd.