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|| News Item: Posted 2009-09-03

Photographer's Toy Box: AquaTech's New Collapsible Lens Hoods
By Robert Hanashiro, Sports Shooter

Photo by

The AquaTech Soft Hood
At what cost space?

I am always looking for ways to save space and weight when I am packing equipment to go on assignment. Cameras and lenses take up a lot of room in that rolling case or backpack, especially long glass. Packing a 400mm (or a 600mm ) causes aching backs and zipper busting in your expensive rolling bag and there just doesn't seem to be enough room for that extra piece of gear you just HAVE to pack.

My colleague Bob Deutsch and I have been pondering the large lens hoods for years and we have even tried using several materials from a hardware store before a Super Bowl a few years back in search of sort of D.I.Y. - thing. Either the material wasn't flexible enough (we cracked various pieces of plastic) or strong enough to allow the lens to be supported standing up (craft foam sheets) or just plan bigger and heavier than the ones that come with the lenses (rubber sewer pipe or PVC tubing). The other issue was how to secure our D.I.Y. hood so it would stay in place, keep its shape without having to wrap gaffer tape around the lens or use something with adhesive that could (and would eventually) be messy?

AquaTech, famous for its underwater housings and rain covers for camera gear, has designed a new "soft" lens hood for long lenses. The Soft Hood comes in two sizes, one that will fit 300mm 2.8, 200-400mm f/4 (Nikkor zoom) and 500mm f/4. The large model will fit a 400mm f/2.8 and 600mm f/4.

The hood is a flat fabric with stiff ribbing and wraps around the front of the lens barrel, secured by straps and a flap with "hook & loop" material. You do not have to put any kind of fastening material on the lens itself. (John McDonough's comment when I showed him a sample at a recent football game was: "It looks like an old fashioned corset.")

What holds the hood in place on the long lens itself is a grooved rubber piece along the inside of the material that prevents it from sliding or turning.

The Soft Hood is strong enough to allow you to stand it up on end --- which was one of the do-or-die tests that Bob and I had for our D.I.Y. hoods.

So why buy a soft lens hood?

For me the beauty of what AquaTech has designed and will have commercially available later this month is a way for me to save space in my rolling case. Ditching the stock lens hood for my 400mm and 600mm saves me a few inches of width with allows me to better-fit shorter glass and camera bodies along the sides. It also saves another couple of inches in total length. (For instance now my 600mm fits easily in a Kinesis long lens case that I used to use only for a 400mm.)

When packing a 600mm or 400mm in my Think Tank Photo Airport Security roller, I now just lay the AquaTech Soft Hood flat on top of the dividers which as a side benefit give me more protection of the gear during transport.

AquaTech is also making a rubber lens cap that provides some of the best protection for the front element of long glass I have seen. The cap, which is like a sort of drain plug, fits snuggly inside the front ring of the lens. These caps are lens-specific and will be available for both Nikon and Canon 300 f/2.8, 400mm f/2.8, 500mm f/4 and 600mm f/4 lenses. A third new item from AquaTech is a line of stretchy Neoprene "wraps" to protect camera bodies, speedlights and laptop computers.

The AquaTech Soft Hood admittedly is a sort of photographers' luxury --- but if you're like me and want to get the most use out of the space in a rolling bag or long lens case, it is something you'll definitely want to take a look at.


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