We’ve seen how being weather sealed or weather resistant becomes a factor in modern days sales. This, of course, goes for actions cameras like the GoPro, but this also go for DSLRs and lighting equipment.
IP stands for International Protection or Ingress Protection and is usually combined from the letters IP and two numbers like IP56 or IP68. Sometimes there will be a letter after the number, but usually no.
So the structure looks like IPXY.
The X refers to the Solid particle protection, and the Y refers to the Liquid ingress protection.
Here is what each of those numbers mean (wikipedia).
Solids Particles Protection
|Level||Object size protected against||Effective against|
|0||—||No protection against contact and ingress of objects|
|1||>50 mm||Any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part|
|2||>12.5 mm||Fingers or similar objects|
|3||>2.5 mm||Tools, thick wires, etc.|
|4||>1 mm||Most wires, slender screws, ants etc.|
|5||Dust protected||Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment.|
|6||Dust tight||No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight)|
Liquid Particle Protection
|Level||Protected against||Effective against||Details|
|1||Dripping water||Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect.||Test duration: 10 minutes
Water equivalent to 1 mm rainfall per minute
|2||Dripping water when tilted up to 15°||Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position.||Test duration: 10 minutes
Water equivalent to 3 mm rainfall per minute
|3||Spraying water||Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.||Test duration: 5 minutes
Water volume: 0.7 litres per minute
Pressure: 50–150 kPa
|4||Splashing of water||Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect.||Test duration: 5 minutes
Water volume: 10 litres per minute
Pressure: 50–150 kPa
|5||Water jets||Water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.||Test duration: at least 3 minutes
Water volume: 12.5 litres per minute
Pressure: 30 kPa at distance of 3 m
|6||Powerful water jets||Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.||Test duration: at least 3 minutes
Water volume: 100 litres per minute
Pressure: 100 kPa at distance of 3 m
|6K[discuss]||Powerful water jets with increased pressure||Water projected in powerful jets (6.3 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction, under elevated pressure, shall have no harmful effects.||Test duration: at least 3 minutes
Water volume: 75 litres per minute
Pressure: 1000 kPa at distance of 3 m
|7||Immersion up to 1 m||Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).||Test duration: 30 minutes
Tested with the lowest point of the enclosure 1000 mm below the surface of the water, or the highest point 150 mm below the surface, whichever is deeper.
|8||Immersion beyond 1 m||The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects.||Test duration: continuous immersion in water
Depth specified by manufacturer, generally up to 3 m
|9K||Powerful high temperature water jets||Protected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.||Test duration: –
Water volume: 14–16 litres per minute
Pressure: [8000–10000 kPa / 80–100 Bar] at distance of 0.1–0.15 m
Water temperature: 80 °C
Additional letters can indicate other protections:
|H||High voltage device|
|M||Device moving during water test|
|S||Device standing still during water test|
Why standards matter?
If you are trying to compare two cameras and weather protection is important for you, this number is critical. Richo, who makes the Pentax K1, which was also ruggedly
abused tested recently, states that it is Weather resistant, (87 special sealing parts). But what does weather resistant means? rain? dew? snow? hail? waterfalls? There is no actual commitment. The Nikon D7100 is also said to have a Weather-Resistant Magnesium Alloy Body, and the Canon 7DmkII has a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body as well. Now, which one is more resilient? Who knows. (I have my bets though).
I think this is one thing we should call for standardization with camera makers.