My Christmas present this year was a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, an excellent little digicam with a Leica lens. It's been raining around the SF Bay Area lately and I wanted a way to shoot in bad weather. I remember seeing instructions years ago for taping the hood of a rain-poncho onto an SLR lens-hood so the whole arrangement covered you and your camera, making you look like an old-school view-camera operator.
There is no lens hood for the Lumix, and I don't use a poncho in the rain. I wanted a small kit to carry with me just-in-case. A few dollars at the hardware store and a Ziploc and my camera is storm-ready. As a bonus, I ended up with a rather elegant lens hood for the camera, for when the sun is out.
Lens hoods are good for reducing glare on a lens. Modern lenses are so well coated (against glare) that you can get away without a hood, but using one can increase contrast and is at the very least an aid when shooting towards bright light sources. My hood also protects the small extended lens from getting knocked when the camera is swinging at the end of my camera strap.
The cost of materials is only a few dollars, plus about 30 minutes of time. You'll need a couple tools, but they don't have to be the ones I used (I'll note options as I go). You'll see that the project is pretty specific to my Lumix, but you'll also see that it is basic enough that it might be modified to work for other cameras.
Critical to this project is that your camera that has a raised, fixed ring outside the movable lens assembly (digital camera lenses are always moving in and out as you zoom). There might be other ways of affixing a makeshift hood (mailing tube?) to a differently configured camera body (elastic bands, tape, glue), but none quite so simple as this. I know this is very specific to the Lumix, but maybe it will inspire solutions for other cameras.
Step 1: What You'll Need
One black PVC 1.5" x 2" reducer/increaser coupling ($2)
Four inch cable tie (zip tie)
Ziploc bag as a rain coat for your camera (1 gallon size ... can be any brand, but should be beefy)
Drill (bit diameter to match width of zip tie) (or other way of making a hole ... see step 5)
Assorted sandpaper (rough and fine, for sanding and finishing the PVC)
Needle files (or other way of routing channels in the plastic ... see step 6)
Dremel or other rotary grinder to speed up the shaping of the PVC
Step 2: Observe the Edges
On the other hand--on the other (larger) end--there is not enough of a bevel for the Lumix: when I first mounted it, there was slight vignetting (the hood was just the slightest bit too small in diameter at the edge). I solved this by grinding / sanding away the inside edge of the large opening of the hood ... that did the trick, eliminating the vignetting.
The next couple steps show the sanding operations.
Step 3: Sanding the Small End Flat
Step 4: Grinding a Bevel in the Large End
Step 5: Adding a Brace to Make a Snug Fit: Drilling
In these next few pics, I'm drilling a hole to mount the tie, then using a small square needle file to create a channel for the zip tie to rest in. More on why in the next slides.
If you don't have access to a drill, you can find another way to put a hole in the relatively soft PVC: an awl (such as you'd find on a Swiss Army Knife) would work, or a soldering iron would melt a neat hole through (and stink your workshop up).
Step 6: Filing a Channel for the Tie
The file is a square needle file, which worked really well. Before I remembered I had these little files, I considered using the soldering iron to melt a little channel in the plastic.
Step 7: The Channel for the Zip Tie
Step 8: Zip Tie Installed
Note: please be very careful not to force a home-brew hood onto any part of your camera if you aren't sure it will fit. If you have any concern that it will deform or mar any part of your camera, or that it will interfere with the movements of the lenses, step away from the camera, man!
Step 9: My Naked Lumix
Step 10: Lumix With Hood
From this picture, you can see the only limitation of attaching the hood: the auto-focus assist lamp (the little glass circle to the right of the LUMIX badge) will be partially blocked. The lamp is only there to illuminate subjects in the dark (and to blink when the self-timer is on). It serves no other function. Shouldn't be a problem: you won't need to use the hood in the dark. If you want to take pics in the rain, while it's dark ... what can I say?
Step 11: Lumix With Hood, Another View
Step 12: Ready for the Rain
Obviously, the hood is open on the end, and this is not waterproof! It is only going to protect the lens if you don't point it up into the rain. And you will have to gauge the seal on the bag for yourself (it's your camera after all). I will use this in a downpour, and simply keep the lens pointed horizontal or down! If you take this out in a hurricane, you'd better be pointed downwind!
That said, you can also see from the way the diameter shrinks as it moves closer to the body of the camera, that any drips that get inside the large end will be prevented from flowing back into the lens assembly, unless you tip it way back.
Step 13: The Camera, Covered
When I tested the system out in a rain recently, I found that the inside of the bag steamed up ... my hands were probably a bit damp. I think the smart move is to operate the cam from the outside of the bag.