Lens cap solution

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Good points on buying a $1200+ lens and getting a 5 cent lens cap with it. Why not just get a snap on lens cap, like the ones 35mm lenses come with, and call it good? Also, it helps to wrap the lenese well so that there's less chance of any pressure on the front building up to the damage point.

Much to do about nothing .... ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

-- (hyperfocal@attbi.com), January 02, 2002


Snap-on caps are not made in all of the sizes used by modern LF lenses.

Tiffen makes them from 46 to 72mm only (and screw-in metal from 46 to 77mm). Samigon offers snap-on in 46 to 77mm. Tamaron has a 112mm snap on Pentax has an 82mm Heliopan makes them from 43 to 77mm Kaiser from 46 to 77mm B+W from 46 to 77mm

Rodenstock has lenses with filter sizes from 40.5 to 112mm. Add a Center Filter and Rodestock requires sizes up to 127mm. Then there are also lenses like the Imagon which have no threads.

Another problem is snap caps seem to have a propensity of falling off lenses easier then push-on or some bayonet caps do.

If someone wants to have a hard cap that will not accidently fall off they probably need screw-in ones for LF lenses. But they are not available either in the range of sizes needed just for Rodenstock.

Easy to suggest a snap cap but it isn't totally the answer.

Perhaps you might want to go into business making custom screw-in hard caps (that will not contact glass with large front curves) for the people out there that feel that they must have one.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), January 02, 2002.

This seems to be the fourth thread on this topic. I posted a bit about my solutions in the original thread at:


I actually use a number of methods for replacing flimsy factory supplied caps on my Rodenstock and Schneider lenses.

As Bob mentions, snap caps do not come in all sizes for all lenses - especially rear elements. But, when one is available, it is often the best and the least expensive option (of course, the BEST solution would be for the manufacturers to supply decent caps in the first place). It has been my experience that good quality snap-caps are actually LESS likely to fall off than slip-on caps. I have found the Nikon snap caps to work exceptionally well. They are readily available and inexpensive. Most camera stores that sell Nikon 35mm cameras and lenses will have replacements lenses in stock in a variety of sizes. I haven't personally used them, but I have friends who use the Pentax and Tamron snap caps and they seem to be of comparable quality to the Nikon snap caps. For all my lenses with front filter sizes smaller than 52mm, I buy a a step-up ring from the lens thread size to 52mm. This allows me to use standard 52mm screw-in glass filters on these lenses. I leave these step-up rings mounted on the lenses during transport. It saves eime when a filter is required (no fumbling inteh pack for the right ste-up ring) and allows me to use the Nikon 52mm snap caps to protect the front elements on these lenses.

Another solution is replacement slip-on caps from Nikkor or Fujinon LF lenses. While such replacements are not available for some Schneider and Rodenstock lenses, between Nikon and Fuji, a fit can be found for the majority of the German lenses.

Custom made caps by Steve Grimes. As others have mentioned, these caps are the most rigid slip-on plastic caps available. Steve will custom make them to fit any lens - front or back. They are not cheap, but a lot cheaper than repairing a damaged lens.

Screw-in metal caps. This is what I am currently using on my 75mm f6.8 Grandagon-N. It is slower to install and remove than a snap cap or slip-on cap, but it is a rigid metal cap that truly protects the front element of this lens (MUCH better than the supplied original cap).

Filters. The only lens I've ever done this with was a 150mm Super Symmar HM - unfortunately after the initial damage to the front element.

Spacer. This is what I use on my 110mm Super Symmar XL. As anyone who owns this lens knows, there are some problems with some standard 67mm filters on this lens (Tiffen in particular). When I first got this lens, I removed the glass from an old 67mm Hoya UV filter and just leave the empty aluminum filter ring on the lens at all times. It is threaded in the front to accept standard 67mm filters (now my Tiffen filters work fine with this lens). Plus, it provides a little extra space that prevents the factory supplied from contacting the front element during transport. Just a note, I am only using this lens on 4x5 these days, so I have not encountered mechanical vignetting when using filters with this lens. If you are using this lens with larger formats you would be better off using wide angle filters to avoid any possible vignetting.

It does seem ridiculous that these expensive German lenses come with such poorly made caps. Of course, it is equally ridiculous to not replace these caps with somethng more substantial. Others will hide their heads in the sand and claim that there isn't a problem. Personally, I have owned three lenses over the years with cap inflicted damage (two Rodenstock and one Schneider) and since there are several people posting in four separate threads, I am obviously not the only one who sees this as a problem. Obviosuly, the best solution would be better factory supplied caps. Schneider may be getting the message (check out the machined aluminum cap on their new 210mm Super Symmar XL). In the mean time, the first thing I do with any new lens, even before mounting it on a lens board, is to check the caps. If there is any possibility that they can contact the glass when carried in the field, I replace them with one of the solutions listed above. Rather than deny the existance of a problem, I think we would all be better served to discuss possible solutions.


P.S. Just so Bob doesn't think I am singling out Rodenstock or being unfair, please note that I have also had problems with some Schneider lens caps (see above). Also, not all Rodenstock caps are bad. For example, the front and rear caps on my 150mm APO Sironar-S are great. They have a more cupped shape that provides additional space between the cap and the lens elements. This cupped shape seems to also add rigidity to the cap. With my 135mm APO Sironar-S, the front cap was great (like the 150), but the rear cap was awful - contacted the element the very first time I carried it in my pack. The worst caps I have ever seen regardless of brand were the ones that came with my 75mm f6.8 Grandagon-N. That lens never left the house until I replaced the factory caps. Again, not trying to pick on Rodenstock. Just supplying a few data points, both good and bad, WRT some of their current caps.

-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), January 02, 2002.

And while we're on the subject ... leaf shutter accuracy is also a sham. Shooting velvia, 1/3 stop off can make or break an image, yet with the "accuracy" of most leaf shutters, especially ones a few years old, bracketing is almost essential - either that or take the time to look up the tested speed for each time and lens, and possible miss the shot in quickly changing light.

I can live with this, yet I find it really sad how little thought is put into LF gear (with some exceptions) compared to 35mm gear. Huge amounts of R&D spent on gear that is only used to take Joe Sixpack's vacation pixs or rinky dink reportage that get's tossed along with yeaterday's news. If 1/10 of a perect of the effort that goes into designing 35mm gear was poured into LF, we'd really be somewhere, instead of stuck back in the Matthew Brady era for the most part.

Ah but I forget supply and demand, the those market forces that keep us plunging downward into one-size fits all mediocrity of our disposable product society .... resistance is futile!

-- (hyperfocal@attbi.com), January 02, 2002.

"leaf shutter accuracy"

Who says it can't be.

Rollei Linear Motor shutters for view cameras are deadly accurate. So are Horseman ISS shutters.

But you can buy several Copal shutters for the price of one of these shutters.

Then you need a very expensive control box to operate it.

Then you have the Sinar Expolux system.

If you want to pay the tariff the shutter systems are availibal. You add signicant cost, weight, size, need battery power, etc. so the average user has no wish to use them.

In maechanical shutters you can also get better control with a Prontor Professional shutter. Again more cost and size. But the increased accuracy is not as great a gain as the other benefits, 1/3rd stop apertures, rear setting of all controls, rear operation of the shutter.

But more cost, weight, etc.

Copal shutters are the starting point.

If you want to pay more there are several other options. Most are special order.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), January 02, 2002.

Leica has solved the problem about people complaining about cheap lens caps. On their Trinovid Binoculars, they don't give you any at all for the front.


-- Neal Shields (shields@ftw.com), January 02, 2002.

I think Mr. Solomon has a point. You can get all the accuracy and computer precision, if you are willing to pay for it. Joe sixpack's party snaps represent a significantly larger percentage of dollars spent on photography than the few large format amateurs and professionals. If I were in business would I spend R&D dollars to chase the big dollar mass market or the esoteric niche? As for the lens caps, it sort of seems like some one willing to spend a thousand dollars on a large format lens ought to be able to spend what is necessary to protect that investment. If you would rather whine about the big bad lens manufacturer's being skimpy with the free and included lens caps maybe you really have run out of things to complain about.

-- Dave Schneider (dschneider@arjaynet.com), January 02, 2002.

Careful Dave, you'll give them ideas. Stores have removed camera straps, batteries, "never-ready" cases, etc... in the past and charged the customer extra for them. The last thing we need is for them to start removing lenscaps. "Free lenscaps"! You aren't a relative of "Honest Abe's" are you? :>)

-- Wayne DeWitt (wdewitt@snip.net), January 02, 2002.


It's not a question of whether or not one can afford to pay for a better lens cap or not, even after being, "willing to spend a thousand dollars on a large format lens". With the RIDICULOUSLY high prices one has to pay for these quality lenses, surely the manufactuer should provide a decent lens cap to protect the lens - I'm sure you expect the seatbelt in your car to be of the highest quality to protect you, after spending thousands of dollars on for your car.

The point is, these manufacturers shouldn't be alienating their customers by including cheap & nasty lenscaps and expecting them to buy their own better quality caps.

Kind regards

Peter Brown

-- Peter L Brown (photo_illustration@bigpond.com), January 03, 2002.

After reading this for two days, I've come to agreement with the "much ado about nothing" comment. I've used Schneider lenscaps when a used lens of another manufacturer came with none. I find them fine. I do protect my lenses in other ways also: either in padded pockets in my usual bag or in lenswraps if I'm using another carrying vehicle. I'd say there's a lot more to protect on a lens than just the front and rear elements and I don't think a lens cap should be expected to shoulder the load alone.

-- Jay wolfe (bigbad810@hotmail.com), January 03, 2002.


In the original thread on this topic (referenced in my earlier post), I wrote:

"They are carried in indiviual, soft-sided padded cells or wraps, and then placed in a set of padded dividers in my pack."

So, I do take precautions beyond the lens caps to protect my lenses (and certainly recommend others do the same). Even so, if the lens cap is thin enough and of poor design, it can still contact the glass surfaces of the lens when carried in this manner in a pack.

It's great that you (and others) have not experienced this problem. It only takes once to ruin your day. I responded to this thread to offer solutions to others who have had, or are worried about, this so-called non-problem. Sure, I'd like to see better "free" lens caps included when I buy a $1000 lens, but until they are I will take additional measures (replacing cheap flimsy caps) and was just offering a few alternatives that have worked well for me.

This free advice comes with a "limited liftime warranty". It will always be worth at least as much as you paid for it. If not, I will refund your puchase price in full, or repair or replace this advice at my discretion.


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), January 03, 2002.

Has no-one else prowled around the grocery store, lens in hand and gone the youghurt pot top/Pringles chip tube lid route - has worked for me on many occasions...

A pringles lid fits my Baush & lomb 11 13/16" 4.5 lens perfectly, front and back (as well as a spare for my Nikon 85mm 1.8 35mm lens with the hood on!)

Tim A

-- Tim Atherton (tim@kairosphoto.com), January 03, 2002.

It's not always been that silly. In the "good old days", Rodenstock/Klimsch already made the perfect lens cap. In lack of a digital camera, I put it on my scanner to give you an impression of the former quality attitude:

It was made of strong leather and upholstered with velvet. The logo was embossed into the leather. Regards,

-- Thilo Schmid (tschmid@2pix.de), January 03, 2002.

Ooooooo! I like it! I'm drooling!

That gets me thinking....

Maybe I'll take a Pringles plastic cap, paint it black and line it with some nice velvet (blue, purple, red or green)

-- Roger Urban (roger_urban@yahoo.com), January 04, 2002.

The old caps on my Kodak 10" Wide-Field Ektar are metal slip-on caps with flocking inside--very durable.

The original metal screw-in caps I have on the Nikkor lenses for my classic Bronica are also excellent.

The threaded lens cap made for the very exposed front element of my Canon FD 7.5mm/f:5.6 circular fisheye--probably the finest lenscap I own. Sturdy metal, knurled outside, with a raised center, and a rubber ring around the inside rim.

Given that it doesn't have to be a precision-machined thing, is it too much to ask for a metal lens cap for a high-end lens?

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), January 04, 2002.

Anyone want to buy real leather lenscaps lined with Velvet? Hand made in Mexico, with a picture of Elvis painted on the Velvet... by real artists! Priceless protection & an art keepsake. For only $19.95 more comes with its own frame, certificate & written Guarantee.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), January 05, 2002.

Velvet Elvis caps!! You might be onto something, Dan!

-- Matt

P.S. -- I wonder how difficult it would be to add the word "Rodenstock" in sequins?

-- Matt Long (long@ycsi.net), January 05, 2002.

Maybe the 10 cent solution is to cut and fit a small piece of fleece or velvet (or other lens friendly cloth) to snugly fit inside the front and rear lens rings so that the caps don't touch the lens surfaces directly.

-- Paul Coppin (coppin@execulink.com), January 06, 2002.

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