Peak Design Shell: camera protection cover review

The most safe place for your camera is when locked down at your home. The next one could be in your camera bag. Unfortunately, most of us want to take our camera out to take some pictures. Well, the camera protection cover Shell from Peak Design claims to provide the protection while keeping your camera pretty handy. So let's see how it copes with the challenge...

1) Why to get the camera protection cover

Cover is not a camera bag. Cover is designed to provide some kind of protection to your camera when you are actually using it, on location or during your adventures. Typically it may protect your gear in rain, snow and moist environments, against dust, shock and impact or even when underwater.

I carry quite heavy and large camera, Nikon D800, with a f2.8 zoom lens. Sometimes, for city walks or short trips, I want to reduce the gear to bare minimum. No bag, just the camera. So I was looking for minimalist protection for unexpected shower or occasional bump in the city crowd.

I am a big fan of Peak Design`s Slide camera strap, so I decided to give a try to their Shell protective case. I purchased mine at the One Five, the authorized distributor for Czech Republic. I paid for it, so this is not an advertisement, ok?

Peak Design Shell comes in nice package with size guide and quick usage tips.

Peak Design Shell comes in nice package with size guide and quick usage tips.

2) Choose the right size for you

 The Shell comes in three sizes. There is a guide on Peak Design's web to help you choose. The trick, however, is that the sizes overlap. For my D800 and Nikkor 24-70mm I originally chose the medium size. When I put it on, it was too tight for my taste. And for sure not enough with any longer lens. So I asked for replacement. The large size feels much better for my combo.

3) The carrying options

After reading the specs and watching the tutorial video, I suspected the Shell cover is primarily designed for use with the Capture camera clip. But as it has holes for Peak Design's anchors, it may be used also with the Slide camera strap too. And that was my intention. When getting the cover on, I actually put only one strap anchor through the cover, as I attach the second one to the tripod plate, mounted to the camera base.

Using Shell with the Slide camera strap from Peak Design.

Using Shell with the Slide camera strap from Peak Design.

4) The protection and usage

Shell is made of a soft, stretchy watertight fabric. It is designed to allow usage of your camera even with the cover on. That means there are two openings: one for the lens to peak out at the front and one at the bottom/back for accessing the viewfinder. The later you also use for inserting the camera. This means the Shell cover in not 100% water nor dust tight! If you are looking for absolute protection, this cover won't provide it. The Shell is aimed rather to protect against splashes, light rain or when snowing in the winter.

UP The bottom is open, so you can attach to Capture clip ... but not sealed | LEFT Nikon D800 with Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 | RIGHT The front is open, but you can tighten it closely around the lens (not here)

UP The bottom is open, so you can attach to Capture clip ... but not sealed | LEFT Nikon D800 with Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 | RIGHT The front is open, but you can tighten it closely around the lens (not here)

Putting the camera into the Shell cover is damn easy. The fabric is nicely stretchy, so you just put the lens inside first and then pull the rest over the back of your camera. Then you close the opening around the lens hood and at the bottom by pulling the flexible cords. There still remains small hole at the bottom, for attachment of the camera to Capture camera clip.

When you need to use the camera, you loosen the cords at the bottom and pull the camera either entirely out - or just enough to access the viewfinder and controls. But that's not the case when you use the Shell on a camera strap, like me...

For carrying with a strap, I had to thread the anchors through the cover. Which made the partial pullout difficult and the complete removal (without disconnecting the strap ) impossible. It's better when attaching the strap just one anchor point up on the camera and the other to the bottom / tripod plate. I carry like that and this setup allowed me to pull off the cover just enough to get access to camera controls, rear monitor and the viewfinder. Operating the camera like that was doable, but not really fast nor convenient.

Also operating the zoom lens with the cover on is challenging. Even with the large size, I was not able to pull the zoom ring. Although the fabric is flexible and stretchy, it fits around the large lens quite tightly. When I try to rotate the zoom ring, it just doesn't work as the cover "pushes back". The only solution I found was to pull the camera almost fully out of the cover, as far as the one upper anchor permits, while still keeping it around the lens. If I watch out for the Shell front not to slide too much forward and create a vignetting, it's possible to operate the buttons on the camera body and pull the zoom ring too.

5) Conclusion

The Shell camera protection cover is aimed to provide better protection to your camera against rain / snow or when pushing your way through bushes. It can be also used as an additional layer when packing the camera into a bag, especially into a not dedicated camera bag. It' definitively not 100% water or dust tight. So think well why you need a camera cover and how you plan to use it.

The Shell cover is very well made, the stitching is even and generally I like the quality a lot. The closing strings are thought through and easy to tighten and loose again.

This cover comes from Peak Design and despite marketed for use also on a camera strap, my experience suggests that it's primary meant as an accessory for their Capture camera clips. With them the ergonomics shall work flawlessly. When used on camera with a strap attached, the handling is more difficult. Better opt for bigger size than the fitting chart suggests you - the extra room will help.

Despite it doesn't work fully to my high expectations, I am actually quite happy with this cover as it fits my purposes. It's lightweight and folds into a small nothing. Thus I can carry just my camera, with this cover tucked into my pocket, knowing that when weather changes and rain comes, I can put it on and stay safe. Of course, I will not use it when expecting a real downpour or when operating in dusty environments. And when the day comes and I get the Capture clip, there won't be much to complain about...