Why have you got camo all over your lens? Surely it’s a waste of time and looks silly!
That’s the question put to me by a non-photographer friend of mine. Looks silly? Well ok, depending on the situation you are in, yes I’ll give you that – it might. But waste of time, absolutely not! As I went on to explain to him, these great little covers are not so much about the camo and more about the extra protection and handling they offer you. And in any case, do you really think someone who likes to spend time crawling through grass, tree’s and mud, in all weather with a huge lens is worried about looking silly…
Lens sizes: Available for huge range of Nikon and Canon lenses, including the rarest of the rare Canon EF 1200mm, and a few Sigma too.
Other products: All sorts from camera pouches to tripod covers.
Material: 100% closed-cell neoprene.
Links: Official Lens Coat website
Protection and fit
So are these covers really worth getting or is it just another gimmick to spend money on to try and ‘look cool’…well, I was once at a Miami Dolphins game in Florida, sitting in 37 degrees heat (or 100f in American terms) with no breeze and the sun over head, for several hours. My D3 became so hot exposed to all the heat that I couldn’t touch the metal parts of it, especially the top. Pro lenses tend to have a lot of metal surface area too, so you can probably see where this is going…! If you shoot with a lens that has a metal housing and shoot in either very hot or very cold conditions, these covers are a must. They do an amazing job of making the lens far more manageable as the neoprene material doesn’t absorb heat or cold like the metal barrel of the big telephotos. For that reason alone I think they are well worth having.
The covers are a custom fit to the specific lens, tripod etc that you want to cover. And, depending on the item to be covered, come in several pieces or just one. Overall the fit of these pieces are excellent and where there are areas that cannot have a solid section go all the way round (because for example, the lens collar knob is in the way) you usually get a strip with a peel off adhesive backing tape. Additionally, where your lens has VR/IS controls or focus switches, the cover will have a clear flexible UV-PVC window so you can see and operate all your controls with ease. And where you have locking knobs on your lens hoods, there is a small hole cut in to the cover which you simple stretch over the knob to provide a very tight fit. You may notice in my images I do not use all the sections, that’s because it was the larger metal surfaces I wanted covered and nothing more. That’s just down to personal preference though. They come in a range of patterns/colours and although it can be argued the various camo patterns won’t really do much to help you blend in, I think given the right surroundings, and provided you are also in camo, it certainly can’t hurt – especially for Canon shooters where big white lenses tend to stand out in amongst tree’s etc. Below is a shot of the Nikon 600mm VR in Realtree Max4 HD pattern, just placed on the ground in amongst similar coloured surroundings…
All the joins are very well stitched together, which gives you piece of mind when stretching your new cover over a lens for the first time – which can be quite a tight fit. But this tight fit also ensures the cover won’t move around once it’s on. Absolutely zero slippage to be found!
Protection from knocks and scratches
The other major deciding factor for using these covers was that whilst using my lenses I often find myself resting them against rough objects, brick walls, fences, tree’s etc and I used to be paranoid about putting a big scratch in the lens barrel or knocking it against something and putting a dink in it. Now of course you buy these lenses to use them and getting marks does go with the territory, but if you’re not a big earning pro…or you’re anything like me and you just want your equipment in as good condition as can be expected, then a little extra protection won’t hurt.
And its water proof too right…?
Well, yes, the lens coat IS water repellent but it doesn’t make your lens waterproof. It certainly stops as much water getting on the lens itself but as you can see from the pictures, it doesn’t cover any of the joins or gaps between your focus /zoom rings. If you want to shoot out in ‘real’ rain then get a proper waterproof cover in addition to one of these. What the Lens Coat will do though is stop your equipment getting as wet as it would have done if it was naked.
Not just for lenses
As well as your lenses, you can also get covers for teleconverters, tripod legs such as the Gitzo GT5541LS, the Wimberley MKII and pouches with cut outs to go on your body whilst it’s attached to a lens or a different sealed type for just transporting a spare body…and more. It’s well worth looking around to see the full range of products offered.
So I should buy one?
I guess it all comes down to personal choice…there are those that might find the cost of these covers a little high for what is essentially a couple of pieces of neoprene (on a side note, photographer Des Ong as done a great review of the Wildlife Watching Supplies own covers, check it out here for a cheaper alternative and to get an idea which will work better for you). And that is a fair enough point. However, if you are shooting with thousands of pounds or dollars worth of equipment then the small premium is worth the outlay. Not only do they help protect your kit from knocks and scratches, thereby helping the resale value if you ever decide to sell on, but they make extreme hot or cold shooting far more comfortable. And if you are comfortable, you can shoot for longer! For those that don’t want to walk around looking like they just stepped off the set of the latest Rambo movie, well that’s fine too as the covers also come in plain black – so all tastes are catered for..
And as for the company itself, well my first experience with Lens Coat was outstanding…because after purchasing my first ever cover, I was on a forum shortly after telling a member one of the pieces had been cut wonky. I wasn’t complaining too much, just saying I had a pretty wonky piece but it didn’t ruin my purchase. Well, a few hours after posting that, Lens Coat contacted me to ask what piece was wonky and immediately sent out another section free of charge – all from just reading my post and without me even contacting them! So what more can I say…a great product with first class customer service to boot!