For photographers who frequently shoot outdoors, weather sealing is a must. It protects your expensive camera gear, takes away much of the worry, and allows you to keep shooting when others have to pack it in. Below is a complete list of weather-sealed mirrorless camera models on the market in 2017. This feature is found on mid-range and high-end models, so beginners will need to spend up for the technology. Weather sealing does vary by manufacturer, and we detail that and other buying considerations below the picks. If you’re still choosing between types of cameras, we’ve also published a list of weather-sealed DSLRs.
|Olympus OM-D E-M5||$600||16.1||225 sq. mm||15 oz.||9 fps||No|
|Nikon 1 AW1||$797||14.2||116 sq. mm||12.6 oz.||15 fps||No|
|Fujifilm X-T1||$799||16.3||368 sq. mm||15.5 oz.||8 fps||No|
|Panasonic G85||$898||16||225 sq. mm||17.8 oz.||10 fps||Yes|
|Sony Alpha a6300||$948||24.2||366 sq. mm||14.3 oz.||11 fps||Yes|
|Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II||$999||16||243 sq. mm||14.4 oz.||10 fps||No|
|Panasonic GX8||$998||20.3||225 sq. mm||17.6 oz.||10 fps||Yes|
|Panasonic GH4||$1,198||16.05||221 sq. mm||17.6 oz.||12 fps||Yes|
|Olympus OM-D E-M1||$1,300||16.3||225 sq. mm||17.5 oz.||10 fps||No|
|Sony Alpha a6500||$1,398||24.2||366 sq. mm||16 oz.||11 fps||Yes|
|Fujifilm X-T2||$1,599||24.3||366 sq. mm||17.9 oz.||14 fps||Yes|
|Sony Alpha a7 II||$1,598||24.3||855 sq. mm||19.6 oz.||5 fps||No|
|Fujifilm X-Pro2||$1,699||24.3||366 sq. mm||15.7 oz.||8 fps||No|
|Sony Alpha a7R||$1,898||36.4||864 sq. mm||14.4 oz.||4 fps||No|
|Panasonic GH5||$1,998||20.3||221 sq. mm||25.6 oz.||12 fps||Yes|
|Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II||$1,999||20.4||225 sq. mm||20.3 oz.||18 fps||Yes|
|Sony Alpha a7S II||$2,698||12.2||855 sq. mm||22.1 oz.||5 fps||Yes|
|Sony Alpha a7R II||$2,898||42||864 sq. mm||22.1 oz.||5 fps||Yes|
|Fujifilm GFX 50S||$6,499||51.4||1441 sq. mm||29.1 oz.||3 fps||No|
|Leica SL||$6,600||24||864 sq. mm||29.9 oz.||11 fps||Yes|
Similar to digital SLRs, this list of weather-sealed mirrorless cameras is comprised of mid-range (enthusiast) and professional models. Currently, the cheapest weather-sealed mirrorless option is the Olympus OM-D E-M5, an older model that has been replaced by the more expensive OM-D E-M5 Mark II. This means you’re looking at spending $600 and up for the added protection, plus the cost of weather-sealed lenses if you decide to go that route.
A handful of attractive Micro Four Thirds cameras offer weather sealing, including the popular Olympus OM-D EM-1 Mark II and video-centric Panasonic Lumix GH5. Fujifilm’s high-end offerings like the X-T2 offer weather sealing, and they have a number of great lenses with weather sealing as well. Sony is slightly less promotional than other brands about the toughness of its mirrorless cameras, but many outdoor photographers we know use the crop sensor Sony a6500 and full-frame Sony a7R II. Both are listed as being dust and moisture resistant.
Nikon is unique in creating the only “waterproof” mirrorless camera (if there is such a thing) in the 1 AW1. Other models offer resistance to moisture and dust but prolonged exposure or submersion certainly is not recommended. If you read user reviews closely even of the 1 AW1 or other “waterproof” cameras, anything can happen, and damage from the elements always is a possibility. Having said that, we are strongly in favor of weather sealing and proofing as it takes the headache away from shooting outside with expensive gear. Many professional photographers depend on it heavily.
What Exactly is Weather Sealing?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal method that camera manufacturers use to define weather sealing or how it protects your camera. Sleeping bags, for example, have a handy EN Temperature Rating system that tells you about how warm a bag will keep you at night. The waterproofness of rain jackets is tested by determining the amount of water in a 1-inch-diameter vertical tube that the material can withstand without leaking. With cameras, however, it’s more like the Wild West.
In general, the process of weather sealing involves covering and sealing the joints and button areas on the camera body with rubber to reduce exposure to moisture and dust. This makes the camera resistant to the elements and we’ve seen people shoot in some pretty tough conditions and come away unscathed, but they certainly aren’t “waterproof” (even “waterproof” cameras constantly receive complaints of leakage).
What does this mean for photographers in the field? Weather-sealed cameras are resistant to splashes of water (you’ll see the term “splashproof” used instead of “waterproof”) and normal amounts of dust but not necessarily prolonged exposure. If you drop your weather-sealed mirrorless camera in a tub full of water, you will be severely disappointed with the results (and probably will need a new camera). Outdoor photographers should feel confident using it in a variety of conditions, but good care is still required, as is proper cleaning and storage.
How Camera Manufacturers Discuss Weather Sealing
To highlight what you can expect from weather sealing, we took a look at the specific language on the web pages and press releases of various camera manufacturers. As you can see, there are major differences. And although the excerpts below are not definitive, they are helpful in trying to gauge what to expect.
Olympus (OM-D E-M5 Mark II)
Olympus uses some of the strongest language we’ve seen when describing the OM-D E-M5 Mark II:
“… Its all metal body is sealed for splashproof, dustproof and freezeproof protection. With a full array of similarly “proofed” accessories, including…. nine M.Zuiko Digital weather-sealed lenses, you’ll be ready to shoot in the most extreme environments.” (Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II web page)
Sony (Alpha a6300 and a7R II)
Sony doesn’t play up weather resistance as much as other manufacturers, but it is mentioned in the “Reliability” tab of both the a6300 and a7R II (Sony is clear to point out that these cameras are “not waterproof or splashproof”). Major retailers and camera review sites confirm that the magnesium alloy bodies are indeed weather sealed.
“Sealing around the buttons and dials and double-layered interlocking components prevent entry of dust and moisture, for reliable operation in tough conditions.” (Sony a6300 web page)
“…This camera is designed for optimal dust and moisture resistance, but is not waterproof or splashproof.” (Sony a6300 press release)
“… The α7R II is the toughest, most durable α camera ever made, solidly engineered for action under all conditions, even with large lenses attached...” (Sony a7R II web page)
Fujifilm sounds very confident in their new X-T2:
“The Fujifilm X-T2's body is made of magnesium alloy…. weather-sealed in 63 points to achieve a high level of resistance to dust and moisture. Couple this with its ability to work in temperatures down to -10°C and you'll see the camera is ready for anything. Similar weather-sealing is applied to the dust-resistant and water-resistant lenses and the Power Booster Grip to provide weather resistance across the entire system.” (Fujifilm X-T2 web page)
Nikon (1 AW1)
Nikon’s 1 AW1 is billed as a “waterproof” camera, which is unique to this article and gives you an entirely different level of protection:
“The Nikon 1 AW1 delivers high quality images anywhere with its tough, waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof construction….”
“From kayaking to mountain climbing, keep the rugged Nikon 1 AW1 by your side. Waterproof to 49 feet without a bulky protective housing—carry it rafting, swimming or snorkeling. Freezeproof to 14°F and shockproof to 6.6 feet…” (Nikon 1 AW 1 web page)
Weather-Sealed Lenses Matter Too
After choosing your camera, don’t forget to consider weather-sealed lenses (the lens is just as exposed to the elements as the camera, if not more so). Similar to cameras, the manufactures are not particularly forthcoming about this process. It’s slightly less complicated to weather seal a lens with fewer buttons and points of entry, but generally a separate sealing is added to the exterior and joints of the lens to keep moisture and dust out. Of course, the seal between the camera and lens is of particular importance as that zone offers direct access to all of the critical internal components, including the image sensor.
Some “pro” lenses with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 or faster are weather sealed, but it’s really a case-by-case basis. Olympus advertises nine M.Zuiko weather-sealed lenses to choose from covering virtually all focal lengths, including our favorite: the Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 Pro. Fujifilm has six options (two primes and four zooms) and are kind enough to label them with “WR” for weather resistance. A handful of Sony lenses are listed as being dust and moisture resistant, mostly of the FE (full frame) variety. Again, weather-sealed lenses are not mandatory but you should take them under strong consideration.