Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's All About The Hood

How many of you out there who use long lenses have, or have had, issues with your lens hoods. C'mon, raise your hands... OK, now how many of you know other photographers who use long lenses and have, or have had, issues with their lens hoods? By issues, I mean lens hoods that won't stay attached because of a missing screw or screws, knobs, or thing-a-majiggy that keeps the hood secured on the end of the lens. While Nikon and Canon make some amazingly durable photography equipment, one area in which both companies fall way short of the mark is with the durability of their long lens lens hoods. If you haven't had issues with yours, you will. Promise.

Have you ever priced lens hoods for long lenses? If not, would you believe that $300 is the starting point for a 300mm f2.8 lens hood (Nikon) and a 600mm lens hood (Nikon) is well north of $600? Is it therefore any wonder that if you hang with enough photographers who shoot with long lenses, you're likely to see many with their lens hoods attached via all manner of concocted means, the most common being a hefty amount of duct tape or gaffer's tape? Seriously, who wants to drop $500 or more for something whose only purpose is to provide shade for the end of the lens?

Well, along came AquaTech to the rescue with replacement lens hoods that are priced at approximately $150. Two sizes are available - a smaller one that fits on the end of a 300mm f2.8, 200-400mm f4, or 500mm f4; and a larger one that fits on the end of a 400mm f2.8 or a 600mm f4. The AquaTech hoods are soft, as opposed to the rigid OEM hoods, as they're made from a thick cordura type of fabric; but they're also rigid when attached to the lens through the inclusion of multiple splines inside the two layers of cordura. Believe it or not, the rigidity provided by the splines is sufficient to allow you to stand a 600mm f4 lens, with camera body attached, on end.

Not only does the AquaTech lens hood provide the requisite shading so as to avoid lens flare, when you pack up and get ready to head home, the hood can be wrapped around the barrel of the lens to provide some welcome padding and protection for the barrel.

Attaching the hood to the lens is easy as pie. Simply lay the lens onto the unrolled hood with the end of the lens on the blue, raised strip. The groove just below the blue raised strip acts as a channel for the protruding ring at the end of the lens. Wrap the left side of the hood around the lens and then overlap the right side. A healthy amount of velcro secures the two ends, freeing up your hands to fasten four compression straps that further secure the hood in place.

I've tried both of the AquaTech hoods on my 300mm f2.8, 200-400mm f4, 400mm f2.8 and 600mm f4 and I couldn't be happier. If you are one of the many folks out there with lens hoods that are hanging on to dear life by a thread but you just can't pull the trigger on a $500 replacement, you won't go wrong with these AquaTech replacements.

But Wait, There's More....

If you're like me and are anal about keeping crap, dust, and dirt out of the glass on the front of your lenses, you're in luck. AquaTech has also come out with rubber lens caps for long lenses, replacing those ridiculous fabric covers that come with (Nikon) lenses. These lens caps run approximately $50 which for me is a no brainer considering the protection they provide for the front of my glass.

The caps fit snugly inside the end of a long lens and have a rubber tab along the top which makes it easy to grab onto when removing the cap from the lens. They are sized for the various sizes of lenses, ranging from 300mm Nikon and Canon all the way up to the Big Dogs.

Capped and Hooded, and the best part is the relatively modest cost when compared to OEM replacements. Thanks, AquaTech.

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