View Full Version : Lens Cap Preferences? Leather, Plastic, Metal?

12-Sep-2017, 22:03
I am just curious what everyone's preference is for lens caps and the pros and cons? I know there are plastic push-on, squeeze-on, leather push-on, and metal screw-on. I know plastic are weather resistant but stretch and become loose, leather is not weather resistant and some say leather is food for fungus but they are plush, and metal screw-on lens caps are unbreakable? Has anyone had any issues with leather lens caps? I like them. Thanks for you input


13-Sep-2017, 01:58
Plastic push-on caps are cheap, but most are too soft and tend to get pressed against the lens, causing rub marks. Squeeze caps don't always hold firmly, and the springs on the inside are sometimes too dangerously close to the lens. Metal screw-on caps are good protectors, but may occasionally bind in cold weather. One needs to be patient while attaching these caps, otherwise it could result in the threads getting damaged, or the cap getting stuck. Leather caps look wonderful, but the velvet lining inside could retain moisture.

I'll probably be accused of being biased, but the poor and varying quality of lens caps made me think of venturing into making Acetal (Delrin) caps (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?132043-Acetal-Lens-Caps). But caps come in a very wide range of sizes, and I wanted to test the market with lens cell and shutter protectors (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?140154-New-Product-Lens-and-Shutter-Protectors)

Sadly, not too many people seem to want them, making me hesitate getting the caps manufactured.


13-Sep-2017, 04:02
Thank you Kumar, that is exactly why I asked the question, one of my lenses has a rub mark/scratch right in the center of the lens from a plastic push-on lens cap. And some lenses have a front element that is very close to the front edge or front plane of the lens making them vulnerable to this rub with the cap.

So far everytime I go to a camera show I look for metal screw-in caps, but as you say finding them in the needed size is tough.

The Delrin cap sounds good, SK Grimes makes them, but I suspect his cost is beyond my budget. Thanks for your post!

13-Sep-2017, 04:07
Did you see the prices in my links? They are not $1 or 2, but they are still very affordable - at least I think so. Most people don't seem to agree :)


13-Sep-2017, 05:08
I'm OK with any cap that works (and I have around), but I don't like heavy metal ones because they tend to fall off (due to weight), maybe hit something (like the lens element) when it falls, and dents when it hits the ground, so not my favorite...

I see here that many folks get nervous not having a (odd size???) cap, but there is a good DIY solution... If you ever took apart a leather lens cap or hard SLR lens case, you might be surprised to find that they are merely a cardboard cap or tube covered with real or fake leather covering, so why not make your own???

For a cap, you would start by cutting a circle of matt board, etc with a compass cutter slightly larger than the lens diameter, the size is big enough to include the thickness of another mattboard strip that would circle around the lens, and enough room for plush, fabric, etc that would go on the inside... The outer band goes around the lens and glued to the top circle... Then you can cover the outside with whatever pleases you... It is really quite simple once you work it out, and many can be made right on your kitchen table some rainy night... These can cost you nothing if you have the scrap material laying around... And can look professional with a little effort...

I often have to make caps for large telescopes (that cannot be found), but I just prefer natural mattboard...

Give it a try sometime...

Good luck!!!

Steve K

13-Sep-2017, 05:31
I've tried many over the years, from plastic push-ons from Schnieder, Fujinon, Mamiya, etc.. I've used plastic clip-ons from Minolta, Nikon, Osawa, etc. The list goes on. The best I can give any of them is a B-. Keep in mind that camera and lens manufacturers change their lenses caps over time, so you can't draw a conclusion from a sample of one or two.

I have a couple of Spiratone metal screw-in caps (and ends), but they are heavy and a pain to use, so I use them for protecting my filter STACK -- instead of individual cases for each filter!

I also have plastic clip-on caps from Sigma, Tamron, Yashica, Osawa, etc. lenses. One day, a long time ago, I a bought a Tokina lens -- a wonderful 80-200mm f2.8 APO. Great, fast, one-touch zoom lens. But the plastic clip-on lens cap was SO fantastic (most snap-on caps fall off too easily because the tabs stick out, and/or they don't have enough force/tension!) that I decided to make the switch. I contacted Tokina for direct sales. They never had a request for their lens caps from the general public, but they were happy to help. So I got a BUNCH of Tokina lens caps -- in 55mm and 77mm (my standards). I wouldn't call it a CHEAP move -- mainly because I have a LOT of lenses -- but it was well worth it.

But I still use the push-on plastic caps on the REAR of my large format lenses (because they are much less likely to be knocked off), and the standard, REAR, plastic twist-on plastic caps on my Minolta bayonet lenses. I really like the REAR Tamron lens caps for Minolta, because they are a tad deeper.

So now, I have a lot of front-end lens caps for when I sell a lens -- or need an ash tray!

Jim Jones
13-Sep-2017, 05:42
I prefer metal screw-in caps. A substitute in most sizes can be made from cheap filters with the glass replaced by metal, fiberglass, or any other tough material.

Steven Tribe
13-Sep-2017, 06:45
There is a big difference is suitability of lens caps for coated and non-coated lenses. Coated lenses get etching damage from even being in low/medium humid conditions with fungus growths that release the fluoride ions, with or without lens caps. Non-coated lenses from before 1890 are undamaged by fungal attack. Uncoated lenses using some varieties of the new Schott glass after 1890 can have minor surface damage when left in very damp conditions.

Leather/card/velvet make wonderfully tactile lens hoods.

John Kasaian
13-Sep-2017, 07:01
I'm just grateful to find any cap that fits my odd size LF glass. I've even made my own out of leather, or used recycled plastic bottle caps.
LF glass isn't cheap and having protective lens caps front and rear are really important.

Alan Gales
13-Sep-2017, 11:58
I like Nikon pinch caps. They work fine and are cheap and easy to replace if you lose them.

You can get them cheap off Ebay from China. I don't know if they are knock offs or not but the ones I bought looked the same to me as the one that came on the Nikon DSLR zoom lens I used to own.

13-Sep-2017, 11:59
In my experience, the metal screw-on are (usually) better protectors. I state 'usually' because sometimes lens makers don't account for the spacing needed to keep the cap (or filters) from rubbing the center of the lens. Second best are plastic slip-on style because they're very convenient and don't pop off as readily as pinch-style caps do. I don't like pinch-style caps unless none others are available in the right size.

13-Sep-2017, 17:41
For brass barrel lens, I like leather push-on caps. It looks better because the color and style of the lens and caps match. I haven't had issues with fungus on the leather cap. They are stored in a cabinet with silica gel packets. The leather caps I have were ordered from China. They are hand made of nubuck and not expensive at all. They can also make lens cases for the small lenses.

For modern lenses, plastic push-on caps work fine for me. If the glass elements are too close to the cap, I store or transport the lens horizontally.

14-Sep-2017, 13:30
I prefer the plastic push on kind. They're cheap and I haven't run into an issue. If they get too loose, you can heat them with a hair dryer and reform them slightly to fit. The push on metal kind are too heavy and fall off too easily. Also them and the leather type usually have velvet interiors which is just asking to decay and cause dust. I don't like the metal screw on kind because they're too cumbersome, and I've had enough issues with getting filters stuck on lenses to trust them.

But, ultimately I don't think there's a whole lot of real world difference between them. I think the plastic push on type being so cheap and easy to find is the primary reason why I mostly use them.

Steve Hamley
16-Sep-2017, 09:43
I like the velvet-lined stiff leather push-on caps if I can get them. Screw-in aluminum is fine but is more of a bother in the field.

I test my OEM plastic push-on caps, and if I think that they will touch the lens as tested by pushing on the middle with my finger, they get replaced, usually with a better cap or S K Grimes caps which require that you send the lens to them for proper fit. The S K Grimes caps are not expensive compared to most lenses.

Cheers, Steve

16-Sep-2017, 09:50
Since I often use them as shutters, they need to slip on and off easily without shaking the camera.

16-Sep-2017, 10:53
Metal. I keep quite a number of lenses in a small cabinet, which means they're stacked 2 or 3 high. For the larger brassies, I make rigid cardboard and leather slip-on caps following the instructions posted here some years ago.

16-Sep-2017, 14:05
I test my OEM plastic push-on caps, and if I think that they will touch the lens as tested by pushing on the middle with my finger, they get replaced, usually with a better cap ...

Cheers, Steve

One primitive but efficient way of stiffening the plastic caps is to glue to their outer side a conveniently bend aluminum strip (1cm wide, 1mm thick). The glue must be thick enough (a contact cement will do) to cover the usual lettering that these plastic caps use to have on their centre part. If you want to make the beast aesthetically more acceptable you can put on the strip a label indicating the cap's diameter. The metal strip prevents the cap to deform under pressure and to touch lens surface.

One more thing - before you close the bettered cap with your lens let it dry perfectly and loose all the fumes emanating from the glue - the fumes are harmful to the film.

16-Sep-2017, 19:08
One primitive but efficient way of stiffening the plastic caps is to glue to their outer side a conveniently bend aluminum strip (1cm wide, 1mm thick).

Too complex. I put a fresh piece of lens tissue under the cap.