Are you a DSLR shooter and do you own a super zoom lens? If you can answer yes to that double-question, then you’ve probably already heard about “lens creep”, or perhaps you’ve experienced it yourself, on your own lens(es), maybe even quite often.
If you answered “no” to the double-question, but you’re considering buying a super zoom lens, such as a 18-200mm, 18-250mm or 18-270mm (those are the most popular), you need to know about “lens creep”.
What is lens creep – or zoom creep?
Lens creep is also known as zoom creep, they mean the same, just different names I guess.
“Lens/zoom creep is the tendency for a lens to expend or collapse under its own weight when pointed upward or downward”.
This means, if you’ve zoomed in a little bit, to, say, 50mm, and you point your lens down to shoot something down below, the lens will extend by itself, essentially zooming in even further. This does of course not happen if you hold on to the zoom ring meanwhile, then it stays put – but if the camera is mounted on a tripod, then you’ll probably not want to hold the zoom ring while shooting. Same thing happens if you want to shoot something up high, the lens will collapse and zoom out.
Another down side is when you’re walking around with the camera hanging over your shoulder, lens pointing downwards. You may have it zoomed all the way out to 18mm, but as you’re walking around, don’t be surprised that the next time you pull up your camera, to find that the lens has actually extended to 2-3 times its size and is now zoomed all the way in. I hate that!
To avoid the latter problem, some lenses now have a switch on the barrel, so that you can lock it at 18mm. At least this means the lens doesn’t extend by itself when you’re walking around. It also means that you have to unlock it each time you need to take a photo at anything but 18mm focal length.
I know for a fact that the lock-switch is not present on the popular Nikon 18-200mm VR lens, the first version where the “VR” letters are in red. The second version, where “VR” letters are written in gold on the lens barrel, does have the zoom lock. Sigma 18-250mm HSM OS does also have the zoom lock, as well as the Tamron 18-270mm PZD VC (which is featured in this post a few times).
Still, even with the zoom lock, you’ll run into lens/zoom creep issues when you’re out using the lens and you point it down or up.
Introducing “Lens Band”
That’s when lens band comes into the picture (pardon the pun). A “lens band” is a more elegant way, and generally better way, to stop zoom creep on your lens, instead of using brown rubber bands found in various places (though they can also work, but maybe not as well).
Lens Band is sold online on lensband.com for just $4.99, and you can get various colors as well. Also, for $7.99 you can get a printed lens band if you want something more unique.
Lens band works by putting it over the lens barrel, so that it touches both the zoom ring and the lens barrel itself, adding friction between the two parts, making it harder for the lens to creep in or out. It also does make it slightly harder to zoom with your fingers, because of the added friction, but I think it’s very little and considering what you get (no more lens creep!), I think that’s a small price to pay. I’ve been out on a few photo walks using a lens band on my Tamron 18-270mm PZD VC lens and it works great, it has not bothered me once.
Here’s a short video I made to show lens creep with, and without, the lens band:
Another very nice “feature” of the lens band, is its ability to help removing filters that might get stuck on your lens if you have tighten them too hard. Lens band can safely and easily remove 67mm, 72mm, 77mm and 82mm filters – just slide it over the filter and use it to get a better grip of the filter when you’re unscrewing it.
Also, a lens band makes a pretty cool headband for Danbo’s:
Oh, you want the red one instead? Okay…
Now, that’s one bad-ass cool Danbo!
Lens creep sucks, but unfortunately it’s the reality for most super zoom lenses out there today. Occasionally, you might get lucky and pick up a lens that doesn’t suffer – but the question is, for how long will you be “safe”? Paying almost 5 bucks to get a fix is not too bad, considering the amount of colors you can get it in, and therefor you can personalize your lens a little bit more. Lensband.com, you get a thumbs up from TechPatio!