Although I have a Sony TX10 waterproof digital camera there are times when it’s not quite up to the job. These situations include occasions when I’m photographing in low light or at longer distances. In these instances a DSLR is really the only way to go.
Carrying a DSLR on/near water poses a number of risks. The risk of water damages or bumps/knocks is pretty high. The water protection case or carrier used must help protection against these dangers. However the case/bag must also be easy to carry, not be too heavy and probably equally important fits easily within my boat. As you can imagine there will be a trade off.
In the past I have used a large Peli Case for my camera, but my new Nikon D5100 has a 18-10mm lens that makes using the Peli a little impractical. So over the last year + I have been using a Watershed Ocoee dry bag with a Watershed padded liner. I tend to place the bag in between my legs when I am sat in the boat and clip it in to the drinks holder area. The dry bag has two D rings at each end which are perfect for this.
Weight: 1 lb 7 oz
Capacity: 900 CU. IN. (15 L)
Dimensions: 9″ x 16″ x 8″
Opening Size: 13″
Closure Type: ZipDry
As a soft bag the Ocoee may not be as robust as a Peli but still offers a good level of protection and is waterproof. By bag has been knocked, battered and thrown around with the camera in situ and has been fine.
The Ocoee and its padded liner fits the camera well and I don’t find that there is much movement once the bag is fastened up.
The dividers have definitely been worth the money. with them in place I can carry my Nikon D5100 with a 18-105mm lens (hood in place), Black Rapid Strap, 50mm lens and a few batteries and Mount Star mount for my GoPro.
If I wanted to carry any other kit I’d have to look at getting the next size up which is the Chattooga.
The best part of the bag is strangely its worst feature. The waterproof closure of the bag is created by two interlocking rubber strips. These strips are pressed together to give a waterproof and air proof seal. This system is really effective but can difficult to get open especially when you have cold hands until you get the hang of it. You also need to be careful to ensure that the seal is fully home when you close the bag up. It’s not difficult but you do need to keep on eye on it to make sure that it is done correctly. It would would be fair to say that this is the same with all systems. I’ve made sure that the seals are well looked after to ensure that my kit remains dry.
The material the bag is made with feels very solid and appears (subjectively) to be tougher than any other dry bag I have owned. I have read reports of folk using Watershed bags for years without any issue with the material wearing out. I have used my bag for over a year now and it’s used as the main way to store my camera and a few other bits and bobs both on and off the water. Despite being dragged, thrown, sat on and more the bag and its contents have been great. No damage or issues at all.
The Ocoee has a good range of robust clips, straps and D-rings to ensure that everything is held in place snuggly and is easy to clip into your kayak.
After a year of being stuffed in and dragged out of carious boats the Ocoee is holding up really well. The seal has become a little bit easier to use but still remains as watertight as day one. If you can get past the costs (see below) the Ocoee still remains one of the best options for carrying camera gear.
The cost of the Watershed Ocoee is on the face of it pretty steep. You can find them in the UK for around £60. It will cost you £30 for the liner and another £25 for the dividers. But then again you will probably be placing several hundreds of £ of camera equipment in it. So as a long term investment I think the Watershed Ocoee is a good deal.