View Full Version : Which kind of foam for lens case ?

Ken Lee
24-Mar-2008, 16:25
I would like to make a case to hold my lenses - or at least an insert into an existing case, which I can custom cut, to fit a variety of lenses.

This site (http://www.foamrubber.com/about_foam.htm) offers several types of foam rubber. Which type would be best for this purpose ? If not polyurethane, then what type ?

I would like to avoid anything which could out-gas something harmful to the lenses, many of which are rather old.

Thanks in advance.

Ron Marshall
24-Mar-2008, 17:34
Compare what Pellican offers:


David Karp
24-Mar-2008, 17:36
Hi Ken,

I did what you did once. I purchased the foam at this site (local to me): http://site.iwebcenters.com/afoammart_2/foammarthome.html.

They provide foam to a variety of film/movie industry companies for the cases used to hold their movie cameras. I don't recall which foam is appropriate. I just purchased the stuff they recommended. Maybe a call or e-mail to them will give the answer.

Randy Redford
24-Mar-2008, 18:04
I the place is a foam shop, tell them that you want open cell gray foam for a camera case and they will know what you are talking about. I had mine custom cut for the lenses. You will need to let them know the height, width and depth. I made mine out of 3 pieces 2" each with a solid 1" piece on the bottom as extra padding. Once they get the height and width, you will have to give them a template that size with the areas to cut out. Let them do the cutting and plan on either rectangular or circular holes. Don't try and cut around the odd shaped items.

The beauty of using 3 pieces is that I could choose to only have 1, 2 or all 3 of the pieces cut out before the pieces were glued together so that the holes would be either 2" or 4" or 6" deep. After they get all the cutting done, the 3 pieces are glued together with the bottom 1" piece for stability. My dark cloth goes over everythign for a bit of extra padding.

Mine is 22" by 14" with rounded corners to fit in a carryon size bag that looks nothing like a photo case. (Rick Steves Travel Bag). Empty, my case with foam weighs 3 1/2 pounds.

25-Mar-2008, 07:05
I'm not questioning Ken's concern - I've had it myself. I made some lens cases myself from bits of foam, using contact cement. The cement definitely has a lot of odor until it has aged a bit, so I only put my lenses in the cases when I go out in the field.

But I was wondering - lenses are made of a bunch of relatively inert materials, so is this really a concern? I guess there are some glues in lenses that could be weakened by some materials?

Ken Lee
25-Mar-2008, 08:01
I certainly don't know. That's why I queried the combined wisdom of the forum. ;)

I figure that I can always buy more lens wraps, but for the same money, I could get a better solution. I have more lenses than the number of colors in which the wraps are available.

John Schneider
25-Mar-2008, 09:39
Contact/rubber cement solvent is usually mostly hexane, which is pretty volatile and should offgas almost totally in a matter of hours. But if you've used it to attach foam in a container which is then sealed like a Pelican, you know that the smell lingers for quite a while longer.

Hexane won't damage glass or metal. Despite the smell, the concentration in the air is always probably small, it *probably* won't damage the plastic in shutters, or paint and balsam cement on older lenses. But, I wouldn't want to take that chance with any of my lenses; I'd let it bake in the sun for a week or so.

25-Mar-2008, 10:49
Parts glued with a contact cement glue can be exposed to sun or just left in a warm room and they will lose their odor in 1-2 days. They will then be safe for lenses. I have constructed several cases form my camera and lenses and the odor disappeared after a while.

25-Mar-2008, 10:54
Foam parts glued with with a contact cement glue can lose their odor much quicker if you press them from time to time several times - the pores lose the air pockets filled with vapors and you "clean" the foam in this way.

26-Mar-2008, 07:19
Thanks for the responses - that makes me feel a bit better. I really like the cases I make because each is a perfect custom fit for a particular lens.