Best ways to keep or remove water droplets from your lens in water photography
As with all things photography, there's no right & wrong way. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and you decide what's best based on the desired outcomes. Water drops on an image can serve a purpose. They can highlight the "feel" of the image's environment, or accentuate a sense of action within the medium. Similarly, they sometimes create beautiful reflective & refractive light effects that create emotional moods to an image.
There are different ways to dealing with water drops on a camera lens, and this post address tips for managing them depending on your lens and image type. Outex makes 3 types of front glass ports
- Flat Glass Ports (Hydrophobic treatment)
- Dome Glass Ports
- Exposed Filter Thread Glass Ports
Different materials handle water cohesion differently, so first identify the type of material you wish to use. All Outex front ports, including domes are made of optical glass ports. In addition to the optical benefits of glass over acrylic, glass is less prone to scratches and more resilient. It's heavier than acrylic, but we're able to use it given the Outex systems' overall lightweight and design. Because of the use of optical glass, users may also use water-repelling products of their preference, such as Rain-X, Claifii, saliva, candle-wax, tooth paste, etc. The same is true for cleaning purposed. Anything that can be used on glass can be used on Outex glass ports.
Common tips for eliminating water droplets on the glass include:
- Maintain the glass as clean as possible prior to use. The more "invisible" debris that accumulates on your port over time, the more surface area for drops to appear.
- Dipping the lens into the water quickly before the shot.
- Saliva (spit) can help reduce drops as well, by creating a layer that adheres to water droplets as to create a sheath of water that's invisible to the lens.
1. Flat Glass Ports; The flat glass ports are tempered, and treated with a special micro coating of hydrophobic & oleophobic material that repeals commonly-found substances found in bodies of water, such as pools, rivers, lakes, and oceans. This permanent coating acts as protection against the formation of drops. We've also designed front ports flush with the surrounding metal rims, making it easy for any water drops to run down/off and away from the image's field of view. As a last resort, the design enables the user to swipe away drops with their fingers, a cloth, or a squeegee.
2. Dome Glass Ports; Unlike our flat glass ports, the dome Outex glass ports are tempered but untreated for water-wicking for multiple reasons. Gravity applies unevenly across its curved surface when shooting around water, so water runoff occurs in unpredictable patterns. Shooting thru domes is often done thru a layer of water that remains on the glass surface. Applying saliva (spit) to a dome creates a sheath of water that's invisible to the lens, but prevents the beading of water drops on its surface. This effect will only last a few seconds. It's in essence delaying the natural gravitational running of the water down the lens. But it tends to last several minutes, enabling the user to dip the dome lens into water several times in a row over the course of a shooting session, and having several seconds of droplets-free shooting in between.
3. Exposed Filter Thread Glass Ports; For users looking to use external polarizers or neutral-density (ND) filters, these Outex ports offer an external (front) filter thread. That design means the glass is not flush with the front metal rim, which can potentially prevent water from simply running down/off the edge. So it's a tradeoff for the user to decide. Learn more here.