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07-28-2014, 08:29 AM   #1
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Lens swap under field conditions?

I've been very grateful for all the comments on my "hauling lenses" thread--thanks for sharing your expertise! Another, related, question though has to do with how you effect a lens swap under what you might call "field conditions," which for me involves a lot of sweat, dirt (and/or DEET) and most importantly, no flat ground on which to set down the lenses.


I'm especially curious as to how those who favor the "lens wrap" option (as opposed to using inserts) accomplish this, especially since the wraps seem to add an extra step or two. Do you go as far as taking some sort of clean mat with you to lay out the lenses? Do you feel the need to put a body cap on the camera while you sort out the rear mount caps on the old and new lens?


At any rate, no doubt this is overthinking what for most of y'all is second nature, but hopefully a little more efficiency and precision here will mean that there's one less accident waiting to happen.

07-28-2014, 08:54 AM   #2
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Rear cap always in my right pocket, front cap in my left pocket. if I change lenses, first I replace FRONT cap then I swap REAR cap as lens is changed. I have perfected a method of uncapping lens (rear) with my teeth, leaving it in my mouth as I place the new lens on the camera, this then frees up my hands to recap the old lens. it also why all my 3rd party lenses have the pentax rear caps, they are much easier to remove with my teeth....lol

I also always turn the camera body away and face it downward from any water or wind source before changing lenses if possible.

In precarious positions, I really try to limit myself to one lens on camera and one lens in a pocket. ill set my bag down sometimes as much as 20 yards away in a level dry place with the top flap closed (but not zipped) and if I HAVE to have another lens, I just have to crawl back to the bag to get one. My lenses NEVER leave the main bag unless they are going on my camera body, or in a pocket - I wont set them on the ground unless its stable, dry and solid rock with no dirt or plant matter

I also stick a lens pen and a cleaning cloth in a back pocket so I can wisk off dust and/or wipe off water droplets
07-28-2014, 08:56 AM   #3
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I use a sling bag. I feel the bag (whether sling or courier or whatever) is just like a carpenters tool bag, the bag is not just a place to store tools but is a tool itself.

  1. Put front lens cap on the lens that is on the camera, reverse lens hood and re-attach
  2. Open bag
  3. Loosen but do not remove the rear lens cap (lenses are in the bag facing down)
  4. Remove lens from camera and place in the empty slot in the bag
  5. Swap the rear lens cap from the new lens to the old lens (just place it on top loosely do not tighten
  6. Put the new lens on the camera
  7. Tighten the rear lens cap on the old lens
  8. Close and zip up the bag
  9. Remove lens cap from the new lens and put the lens hood on properly

The bag does not leave my shoulder, I am standing and mostly able to be aware of the surroundings which bending over on the ground would prevent. The camera is on an op/tech sling strap so I can just drop it when I need both hands for lenses.

I carry the DA 12-24, DA*16-50, DA*60-250 and the DFA 100 macro in this bag. There is room for a couple of small primes in another compartment and I often carry a 50mm f/1.4 there but weight is always a consideration.
07-28-2014, 09:01 AM   #4
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My SOP does not involve any use of the ground,
since I might be perched on a rock, ladder, or whatever.

I have an open, empty camera bag, on a neck strap for heavy cameras like the K5,
or a waist pack for light cameras like the K-50.
Camera on a neck strap.

Unpack (and unwrap) "new" lens,
release mount cap, place in camera bag.

Remove "old" lens from camera, cover mount with the mount cap from the new lens,
and put it in the camera bag in place of the new lens.
Then mount the new lens on the camera.
All this time I'm holding the camera with the body pointing down,
standing with my back to the wind,
hunched over the camera.

Tighten mount cap on the old lens,
wrap it, and pack it away.

I don't do any blowing out of the body in the field,
just wait for that until I'm back in a clean environment.

07-28-2014, 09:37 AM   #5
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Very helpful, gents...these are the sorts of things I don't see discussed much. (Although as a "lefty, loosey; righty, tighty" kind of guy, I might laminate a cheat sheet once I get my personal protocol sorted.
)
07-28-2014, 09:43 AM   #6
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I use a lowpro 'flipside' bag, which hangs around a waist strap in front of you while you access the contents. It's nice as you can use it as a shelf for lens caps and such, though I'd never rest anything too important on it.
  1. Put lens cap on lens on camera
  2. Take new lens out of bag
  3. Remove rear cap from new lens and rest on bag or more likely hold in mouth
  4. Hold new lens in right hand ready to attach
  5. Remove old lens from body with left hand
  6. Put new lens on body
  7. Put rear cap on old lens and put in bag
  8. Remove lens cap from new lens and shoot away

If I've managed to get the lens/camera all dirty or slimy, it definitely gets a wipe down before changing lenses, especially around the lens mount. While I'm unlikely to change lenses out in the open in a rain or dust storm, I don't stress too much about it and just aim to make the lens swaps as smooth as possible to minimize exposure of the delicate bits. A little dust now and then on the sensor isn't the end of the world.
07-28-2014, 10:02 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by BrianR Quote
Hold new lens in right hand ready to attach Remove old lens from body with left hand

Ha, life would be much easier in a lot of different venues if I were remotely as ambidextrous. I'm definitely seeing the benefit of having a secure "landing" area for the old lens, though, whether it be an accessible camera bag, pocket, or perhaps even a sort of "dump pouch" attached to my pack or belt.


Thanks!

07-28-2014, 10:53 AM   #8
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I generally have a spare rear cap. First I take the lens off with the camera pointing down, then pop the spare rear cap on the lens I just took off, then I take the ;lens I am going to put on, pull the rear cap, then put it on the camera, then that rear cap becomes my spare.
07-28-2014, 11:34 AM   #9
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One of the bag manufacturers - Lowepro I think - does a bag specifically designed for lens changes, that simply has a second lens compartment built in where you put the lens coming off the camera as you remove the other lens already in the bag to go on the camera.

At any time there is only one lens in the bag.
07-28-2014, 12:00 PM   #10
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I usually have my extra lens or lenses in a waist pack which is carried facing rearward. When the urge to change arises the first action is to swing the bag to my front and unzip it. Next, I rotate the lens to be mounted upside down with the rear cap facing outward, and then loosen it without removing it completely. Only then do I turn off the camera and prepare to initiate the swap. This way if a fleeting event or scene arises I can still flip the camera on to quickly take advantage.

Next is reversing the hood and re-fitting the front cap on the lens coming off and removing it from the camera. I also use a sling strap so it's quite easy to hold the camera facing down while I fully remove the rear cap from the lens in the bag, move it into place and secure it to the camera. Then, off with the front cap, install the lens hood and I"m ready to shoot!

Oh, I knew I'd forget something - TURN THE CAMERA BACK ON!
07-28-2014, 01:00 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
that simply has a second lens compartment built in where you put the lens coming off the camera as you remove the other lens already in the bag to go on the camera

Excellent suggestions, guys--no doubt all of y'all can do it a lot more quickly than it took to write the description.
(JohnX, those lens swap cases look pretty nifty, though I'd probably have to keep mine stowed most of the time in order to keep it reasonably clean--it's amazing how many twigs, leaves, and just general detritus a walk in the woods can kick up.)
07-28-2014, 01:14 PM   #12
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My other lens is in a lens pouch on my belt. My camera is strapped to my body, and I have two arms!
07-28-2014, 03:22 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnX Quote
One of the bag manufacturers - Lowepro I think - does a bag specifically designed for lens changes, that simply has a second lens compartment built in where you put the lens coming off the camera as you remove the other lens already in the bag to go on the camera.
It's called a "S&F Lens Exchange Case" and it's made by lowepro.
The large one is good for if you're carrying telephoto lenses (like maybe a 70-200mm or a 300mm).
I probably wouldn't bother for anything smaller, just use a normal bag.
07-28-2014, 04:35 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by skunktail Quote
It's called a "S&F Lens Exchange Case" and it's made by lowepro.
The large one is good for if you're carrying telephoto lenses (like maybe a 70-200mm or a 300mm).
I probably wouldn't bother for anything smaller, just use a normal bag.

I actually misspoke to JohnX above, it was the Think Tank model that I was thinking of--the video of the Lowepro bag is interesting, but I think you're right that it would probably be overkill if you're swapping "pancakes" as I would be.


07-28-2014, 05:51 PM   #15
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I have shot several outdoor music festivals. I always carry two WR bodies, but lens swaps under pressure in crowded, dusty (or occasionally wet) environments are still common.

I have a LowePro S&F technical belt, and a bunch of modular pouches, including the Lens Exchange Case. It is great for swapping between the DA*50-135 and DA*300. The actual process I use is for all intents and purposes the same as jatrax in post #3.
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