I do a lot of training and shoots with people who have recently come into DSLR photography – they have bought or been given a “big” camera and are coming to grips with the new and scary beast!
One of the most common tips I pass on to them are about protecting the lens on their new camera. This isn’t typically an issue on compact cameras as they often have a lens cover which automatically closes when the camera is turned off. But it is a real issue on DSLR cameras, which ship with a very expensive lens sticking out of the front of the camera body, at high risk of knocks and scratches.
Tip 1 – Keep the lens cap on when the lens is not in use. The lens cap is the plastic protective disk which typically grips the inside edge of the lens front. It should ALWAYS be put on when you’ve finished using the camera to protect the lens from accidental knocks in your camera bag or wherever it is kept.
This example also has a strap – really useful when it is elasticated as this fits around the lens barrel and stops you losing it when it’s not in place on the front of the lens.
Tip 2 – Always use a screw in filter on the front of your lens. Every lens you own should have a protective filter screwed into the front thread. This acts as a barrier for knocks, scratches and fingermarks which will damage your very expensive coated lens so easily. It’s a LOT cheaper to replace a screw in filter which has been scratched or damaged than replacing your lens! For typical kit lenses which are normally 55mm diameter, go into your local camera shop and ask for a UV or Skylight filter – small diameter filters from a good manufacturer such as Hama, Tiffen or Hoya will cost 10-30 euros – a bit more if you splash out for a Nikon branded one. As the diameter of your lenses increases, so does the cost of the filter, but never skimp on this – bigger lenses cost hundreds if not thousands of euro, so protect them! These filters screw into the thread on the inside front edge of the lens.
Tip 3 – Don’t buy cheap filters
Even the kit lens on your DSLR is high quality glass, and if it gets scratched is going to cost well over a hundred euros to replace. Better lenses will cost many hundreds or even thousands of euro, so don’t put poor glass in front of those finely tuned optics! You can go onto eBay and get cheapo filters for a few euro, but they are poor quality glass and will degrade your photos. Spend a few tens of euros and you’ll see the difference.
Tip 4 – Use a lens hood
Many lenses ship with a hood in the box, but it’s often left there unused. A lens hood clicks onto the front end of the lens – some connect on the same inside thread as the filters. Either way, they then protect the lens from knocks, act as great rain protectors for the front of the lens or filter, and also cut down on lens flare – those lines of coloured blurry dots of light which you get when shooting towards strong point light sources such as the sun or bright streetlights.
As you can see from the pictures here, lens hoods come in all shapes and sizes, rubber, plastic or metal. The key thing is to get one which matches the front diameter of your lens – the same as the filter.
Joe Houghton Photography runs small group photo shoots, individual 1 on 1 tuition and photography assignments. You can see some of Joe’s photography onArtistRising or atThe Canvas Works, or on his Flickrsite.