Two Canon EOS 5D Mark IIs go for a swim and survive!

by planetmitch6 Comments

In the last week, we’ve found two people testing the weather-resistant sealing of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II but not intentionally. Not just in rain, but in an actual full scale dunk in water – a very scary proposition to folks who’ve spent big bucks on the 5D mk ii! I think we’ve learned something besides the quality of the water resistance of the 5D2, keep a bag of rice around the house.

First, we heard from Joey (trigg3rsnappy on twitter) and check out her photography site. She had posted “dropped her 5D MkII and f2.8L lens IN the river… going to cry right now #Canon #troubleshoot” and we wanted to know more… a bit later, “its official – no water damage after being dipped in a waterfall! the 5D Mk II is an underwater camera – take it scuba diving! #Canon” so we asked who helped and what she did to keep from losing the camera. Here’s her reply:


“It’s the lovely and very patient Reza from Five Star Camera Repairs Lvl 1, 49 Market St Sydney. At the State Theatre Bdg let him know Joey sent them =)

He didn’t even find a watermark in my lens!

The guy did say that I did everything right to prevent damage and corrosion so I shall share what I did:

1. Switched the camera off immediately and took out the battery & CF card (so it won’t get short-circuited)
2. Take off the lens and dry everything as much as possible with whatever was available at the time (which was my bandanna & tissues – yeh I know but better tissues then a wet L Lens and MkII =)
3. When I got home I placed the camera and lens near heat source (my halogen heater) turning it as it dries a bit more
4. Put camera and lens in my insulated camera bag and dumped 3kg of rice in it to absorb the condesation.
5. Left bag close to heater but not too close
6. Take to repairs shop so they can take it apart ASAP.

May be a different story if it wasn’t fresh water (say – salt water… ugh!).

=) Joey”


A couple of days later, we also hear from Steven who’s story includes a 2 minute soak!

“I went with a friend to Groningen from Almere. At the time of our way back we had cycled about 280 km and we where, as you could imagine, pretty tired. I placed my recumbent bike on the side of the road and got some bread from the top-bag. This was also the bag my Canon 5D MKII was in. I went to my friend to give some bread and at that moment when I looked back I saw my bike fall over due to the wind. Out of the bag my camera rolled and it rolled down into the little river. This was a very dark river with dirty brown water. Me and my friend tried to recover it with no luck since the side was very steep.

I had no other choice than going into the water. With still 70 km to go to home I went in the water to recover it. Trough the dirty water I saw the CANON logo underneath the surface, it was on the front of my 28-135 lens. I grabbed it and pulled it out.

The camera was dirty and covered under a lot of mud. Also the back and top LCD screen where completely soaked and full of water. The first thing I did was removing the battery and CF card. When I looked through the viewfinder I saw a LOT of water inside, and actually a lot of debris floating around like it was some aqua-experience-theme-park-aquarium I was looking at, lol. At that time I was about to cry since this camera is my “everything” .

In “Emmeloord”, a small town in Flevoland (The Netherlands) we sat on a couch where we cleaned it even better… when pressing the rear and top buttons, water went out of the top LCD screen. When I got home the CF card still worked!

I called Cannon and they helped be greatly. Also with tips from the internet I placed the body in the sun, in a bowl of rice and eventually at the rear of my computer. I placed it at the same height as my video-card would blow it’s hot “cooling air” out.

This helped greatly and within 2-3 days all visible water seemed to be gone.

Then I tested the lens. I first placed it on my old Canon EOS 3000 analogue camera. To my surprise the Autofocus AND the stabilizer still worked! Seeing that the camera was still fine and the lens worked I placed it on my Canon 1D MKII camera and it worked nicely. The pictures have way less contrast so it’s not usable anymore, but the electric parts are still working! When adding more contrast on the pc it’s still “usable” for hobby use though.

When I noticed this, and a female friend pushed me to test it I decided to check the camera. I first put the battery in the charger to see if that fully functioned. It worked, it charged perfectly. So that was the point where I placed it in the camera.

Turned it on… the screen stayed black for a second and my heart skipped a beat. Then… it worked!!!! I saw the screen again! It asked for the date and stuff so it had been reset but who cares it worked! Tested the film mode, various shutter speeds, looked for death pixels but it all worked fine!

The only thing it did was, when I removed the main battery and put it back on, it would ask for the time/date again. So the small battery is dead. I removed it and I still have to put a replacement in there. If that works, I’d say it’s good as new apart from some dust in the viewfinder.

Regards, Steven”‘

Steven has also provided this video and photos:

Photo of condensation inside Steven’s body (click for larger sizes)


Photo thru the yucky lens:


(Photo credit: snap from the Steven)

Peter Hallam
Peter Hallam

I was hill walking when my 5D got wet. It didn't go underwater and all worked except for view finder info which was corrupted. Official Canon repairer refused to fix under warranty. I think my old 20D is more weather proof then the 5D Mk II. What does weather proof actually mean? It's OK in the sunshine and wind??


Lucky people.. Then again the cameras fell into fresh water. I had a 5D go for a swim in ocean water, and the lower part of the camera, once opened up, showed extensive corrosion. Salt is the killer, defiantely. It was a 5D, so perhaps not as weather sealed as a 5D II.. But I doubt any camera will survive a prolonged dunking in salt water, unless fully weather sealed. I'm talking 1D series protection. So camera manufacturers, please make better weather-sealed cameras for people who go out to sea! Thanks

Jeroen Mentens
Jeroen Mentens

It doesn't surprise me it survived. A couple of years ago I dropped my 20D in a small muddy ditch. When I picked it back out of the ditch water was coming out of every possible place of the camera. After letting it sit on the heater for a couple of days it started working again. I still has some mud spots on the inside of the screens today but it still works fine. Jeroen

William Sommerwerck
William Sommerwerck

Many years ago, Nikon ran an ad about an F that had been dropped in water, and whose owner had then trekked across India with the camera in a bucket of clean water, taking it out only to snap pictures. The camera was later cleaned/lubed and restored to good order. The reason given for the camera remaining in good shape was that it remained in clean water, and was not allowed to dry out, which might have accelerated corrosion. Of course, the F was a wholly mechanical camera. Modern cameras are full of electronics that, at the least, malfunction when they get wet. Back in 1988 I dropped an Olympus XA in a river, thoroughly soaking it (I had to buy another for immediate use at a trade show), but once it dried out, it worked -- and still does. My intuition is that, once you've gotten the camera wet -- especially if it's been immersed -- you can't do much more to damage it. It therefore makes sense to thoroughly rinse off the outside with clean water -- perhaps even the mirror box, if water has gotten in. The major problem (other than corrosion) is that salts or other conductive materials will remain on the PC traces. I suspect these people "got away" with the dunking, because the camera was sufficiently well-sealed to prevent rapid innundation. A 5D might not have been so fortunate. Flushing the camera with isopropyl alcohol makes sense, though I don't know what effect the alcohol would have on plastics or lubricants. If MAKE is reading this... Where the hell is the 5D mark II armor?


Yeah heard about that too.. still I "just" used the rice trick instead of putting it in more water. It wasn't 100% soaked so adding "fresh" water might have made it even worse... So far it works, and at allmost one week it STILL works... I'm praying to every God available/possible that it will keep working lol


I heard that alcohol displaces water. That´s why your fingers get dry if you touch alcohol. Somebody told me that electronic PCBs (printed circuit boards) are immersed in water in some processes, BUT inmediately after that they are rinsed with alcohol. Water corrodes copper tracks of PCBs. The idea is to put the infortunated electronic gadget in alcohol several seconds and the let it dry. Of course, the alcohol will erase some paint and letters. Perhaps it would be a good idea to test this method with an old mobile phone or cheapo gadget, first with water, then alcohol. If it works, repeat with water and let it die to check that the previous trial was succesful.