Lens caps; not the most exciting topic to discuss in photography but they do play a vital role in protecting your lenses. What do you do with your lens cap when it is not on your lens? Many photographers have their own system for storing their lens caps when not in use. For those that do not, than ReadyCap may be the product for you.
There are countless products that attempt to solve the problem of storing lens caps and fliters when not in use. There are strings, bags, pouches, belt holsters etc. I’ve never found any of them to be a solution that works for me. The only time I have a lens cap on my lens is when the lens is in my bag i.e. the lens is not attached to the camera that I’m using. I shoot mostly street so fiddling with a lens cap when I’m out and about is not an option. I usually end up tossing the lens cap in my bag if I’m using one, otherwise it goes it a jacket or pants pocket. This solution “works” for me, but I wouldn’t say it’s ideal. I usually end up digging through my bag or checking all of my pockets to find my missing cap. Since my move to Micro Four Thirds (MFT), temporary loss/misplacement of lens caps seems to be a more common occurrence as some of these caps are minuscule. For instance, the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 filter thread is only 37mm…that is crazy small.
Kit Used for Testing
Below is the kit I used when reviewing this product:
- Panasonic GF-1
- Olympus OM-D EM-5
- Panasonic 14mm f/2.5
- Panasonic 20mm f/1.7
- Panasonic 25mm f/1.4 (Amazon and B&H currently have a great deal on this lens btw, under $500!)
The ReadyCap is made in the U.S.A. and consists of two main parts, the base and the swappable rings. The base is made of a super hard plastic while the rings are made of lightweight aluminum. The base with a ring attached weighs only a few ounces so it’s hardly noticeable. All ring adapters screw into the baseplate which has a native 56mm diameter. So, if you have any 56mm lens caps or filters, you will not need an adapter to use the ready cap.
Setting up the ReadyCap consists of two steps, picking the ring size you need and then attaching the entire unit (base with ring attached) to some sort of belt or strap. So, if it isn’t already obvious to you, there is one MAJOR catch with the ReadyCap and that is it can only hold fliters or lens caps of one size at a time. If you are constantly switching between lenses that have a 52mm and a 77mm filter ring then you have two options. One, buy two ReadyCaps and attach both to your belt or strap. Two, buy one ReadyCap and two filter rings which you then have to swap out each time you want to use the other lens. This is really the only issue I found when using this device. This may not be a major issue to some, but I found it rather annoying.
Once you have your adapter ring selected, the next step is attaching the unit to a strap or belt. On the back of the base is the bracket that is used to secure the ReadyCap to a strap, belt, etc. The slick thing is, the smart people at ReadyCap have designed this bracket to work with both thick and thin material. All you need to do is flip the bracket over and the spacing between the bracket and the base of the ReadyCap changes. One side is for thin straps (think typical camera strap) while the other is for thicker straps or belts (think thicker messenger bag straps).
I spent several days shooting with the ReadyCap. It went with me on a family portait session and then it spent some time out on the street. Overall, I was extremely impressed with the ReadyCap’s build quality and it worked without issue. My main problem, and this is not a problem with the unit, was simply remembering to use the device. I’ve been shooting for years now and I’m so accustomed to just tossing my lens caps in my bag or in a pocket that I had to constantly remind myself to use the ReadyCap. I would have to go back into my bag or dig through my pockets to pull the cap out and attach it to the ReadyCap. Habits are hard to break but I eventually became accustomed to using the ReadyCap.
Having a lens cap quickly accessible does make a difference. When I’m out shooting, espeically on the street, being able to move as fast as possible can mean the difference of getting the shot or missing the moment. When I switch lenses, I have a system. Cap on, new lens out, pop lens off body, swap rear caps, old lens in bag, new lens on camera, lens cap off. That may seem like a lot of moves, but I can actually do it pretty quickly. If I can’t find the lens cap for the lens that I’m using, the whole system breaks down and I will most likely miss the moment I was hoping to capture. Knowing exactly where my lens cap was made changing lenses a snap.
The situation above may seem a bit overkill so some, as I know may photographers that do not use front or rear lens caps when they are our shooting, but that’s not how I roll. Like most people here, I am an enthusiast and photography is a hobby/passion. I save my hard earned money to buy this equipment so I want to take care of it and that means using lens caps, padded bags, etc.
So, can the ReadyCap do no wrong? Unfortunately, no. There is one major flaw with the ready cap and that is its inability to hold caps of different diameters on the fly. If I’m shooting a lens with a 52mm filter tread and I switch to a lens with a 77mm filter tread, I have to also switch the ring on the ReadyCap. I find this to be rather annoying as my Canon kit consists of three lenses, all with different filter sizes. There is no way I would carry the ReadyCap and three additional adapter rings just to have my caps readily available. I think this reason alone will keep many people from pulling the trigger on the ReadyCap. I would love to see a second-gen ReadCap that had a Swiss Army knife like adapter ring layout where I could just fold out the adapter that I needed and the others would get tucked away when not in use. Having to find the correct adapter and then screw it into the unit is a task that I doubt many photographers are going to want to do every time they change a lens.
OK, so now you are probably like “Mike, why would I buy this?” Well, it’s not all bad, and here’s a few reasons why:
- Most people I know, including myself, shoot the majority of their photographs with 1-2 lenses. I shoot 90%+ of my images with a 50mm or 50mm equivalent length lens. Also, may people just getting into photography may shoot with the kit lens for years before they pull the trigger on a second lens…I know i did. So, if you are only using 1-2 lenses to shoot the majority of your images, the ReadyCap makes sense.
- Mirrorless systems. Lenses for may of the mirrorless camera systems (e.g. Micro Four Thirds, Fuji X Series, Sony NEX, etc.) have lenses that have little variation in filter diameter. For example, my MFT kit consists of the Panasonic 14mm, 20mm and 25mm all of which have a filter size of 46mm. Score! This means when I’m out shooting, I only need the 46mm adapter on the ReadyCap and I’m good to go.
- The build quality is excellent yet the product is extremely light-weight
- There are 14 adapter rings available ranging from 28mm to 82mm
- It can easily be attached to thick or thin belts/straps
- It holds lens caps and fliters (adapter rings are aluminum and treaded)
- A new adapter has to be attached when using a lens with a different filter ring size
ReadyCap provides a rather elegant solution for keeping your lens cap and filters readily available. The build quality is excellent and the swappable rings means you only have to buy the unit once, but you will need to by a ring for each cap or filter your want to use with the ReadyCap system. If you can get away with using a single filter size for most of your shooting, then this is definitely a worthwhile product to check out. I personally find the price-to-convenience ratio to make this a worthwhile investment for my MFT system. If you have a bunch of lenses with different filter thread sizes that you regularly swap out when shooting, this probably isn’t the best solution for you.
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