A Flipping Good Idea

With today’s zoom lenses, one often only has to carry two lenses to cover a wide variety of photographic tasks; however, traditionally, the only way to do this is with a camera bag. This has been recognised for a while and so a number of different solutions have been implemented by various entrepreneurs, including myself, to solve this issue. The following DIY gadget is not a new idea by any means and it probably came from an idea that’s been around for decades, gluing two lens caps together, so I’m also just plagiarising what has gone before me. The most recent solution to come on the scene is this one but, as the manufacturer didn’t have one for the lenses that I use, I was left bereft, which led me to find my own solution, which is only appropriate, considering my post about making things.

Go Wing Lens Flipper - (source: Go Wing)

Go Wing Lens Flipper – (source: Go Wing)

Now the idea behind this device is to provide a means of carrying a camera and two lenses, with the lens that’s not attached to the camera, being readily available for quick and easy changeover, but not quite like this. The device in question can carry two lenses, but it kind of defeats the purpose of easy lens swapping if you did this, though may still be more useful than a camera bag or other types of lens holders. However, it can be used to carry say a teleconverter or extension tube on either end, as they don’t impede the way the device is intended to work. Once the two most important parts arrived via eBay, I could start some real designing, rather than turning things over in my head day after day. Mind you, that turning over in my head usually leads to numerous design changes and a better final result.

Lens flipper components

Lens flipper components

What was surprising about the two adapters is that there actually existed adapters for my lenses and which didn’t have any electrical connections from one side to the other. My lenses simply cannot function on my cameras without such connections, as there’s no aperture control, focus or anything to communicate with the camera. So it did baffle me why they have been made, but I’m extremely happy that someone has made these, as otherwise it would have been pretty much a pointless project to attempt. The first thing is that these are made from an aluminium alloy and other metals, as plastic really wouldn’t have been strong enough and the second thing is that I had just about everything that I needed to put together this DIY lens flipper.

Lens flipper connecting plate

Lens flipper connecting plate

It took me about an hour to do the entire drilling etc; with the longest task involving sanding away the bayonet tangs so that the connecting plate (a piece left over from a T2 lens adapter) would fit firmly between the adapters (a linishing machine would have been so nice). The connecting plate wasn’t essential, but it made the swivel design easier. At this point the lens holder was 90% complete and then I hit my first snag, there always has to be a snag. Where the holes were drilled to allow the two adapters and connecting plate to be joined together, the holes came right up against the inner wall of the adapters. This meant that the screws that I planned to use weren’t going to fit, so smaller ones were required, which I didn’t have on hand. And while pondering the setup, I realised how easy that was to fix. I just made up two plates from some washers that would sit inside of either adapter and use the original screws to clamp the lot together.

Lens flipper housing

Lens flipper housing

The next issue were the loops to hold the strap. I thought that this was going to be another stumbling block, but when I rummaged around some boxes in the shed, I came across some speaker brackets that immediately shouted out ‘pick me, pick me!’. They were perfect for what I needed, with the strap slot already in place, and I only needed one bracket, so I had a spare in case I stuffed up. I have this philosophy of not throwing anything away as, whenever I do, I will immediately need the whole or a part of what was thrown out. I’m not a hoarder as such, I do toss things out, but I like to keep bits and pieces, especially metal bits for potential future use. With a bit of cutting, filing and cold galvanising paint, they fit the bill with minimal effort.

Lens flipper complete

Lens flipper complete

Lens flipper complete

Lens flipper complete

So this is the final product, with lens attached and then with the strap attached and a tele-extender on the other end of the lens holder. While the screws holding the strap loops may appear to be a weak point, they are in fact quite strong. The insides have also been sealed so that you can’t see the metal plate and hole, but as the material that I used is a very black light-absorbing material, the photographs didn’t show anything, so I didn’t think it worth posting.

Lens flipper complete with lens

Lens flipper complete with lens

Lens flipper complete with lens and strap

Lens flipper complete with lens and strap

After a couple of days use, I discovered that the alignment of the two mounts wasn’t ideal, with the release buttons placed at opposite sides. Initially I thought that when changing lenses, the holder would flip around and the now empty mount release would be in front, making lens attachment easy. Unfortunately, the arrangement made attaching a lens quite cumbersome, as the ‘red dot’ where you have to align the lens and mount were at an awkward position. So I just turned the mounts around until they were in the same position and things worked a lot better. And once again I had to adjust the strap screws.

Lens flipper complete

Lens flipper complete

I must say that I’m rather chuffed at this particular DIY achievement, as it turned out super-simple and took no time at all to make. However, it’s not as easy to use as made out in the videos and I think it will probably take a bit of time to get used to using the flipper and finding the easiest and most sure way to do lens swaps. It’s not difficult, just something quite different. But it most certainly makes for an easy way to carry around a second lens.

Update: I just wanted to provide an update on this device after extensive use. It’s been an extremely handy way to carry an additional lens when moving about during activities such as the Blessing of the Bikes. It did take a bit of getting used to and if I had a choice, I’d prefer to have a press button lens release rather than the slide style, as the slide style can be awkward. Having the teleconverter attached, with the push button release, makes quite a difference when removing a lens.

7 thoughts on “A Flipping Good Idea

  1. gnarlydognews

    from the eBay link it appears that the adapter is for a 4/3 lens, correct?
    Is there anything for a M43 lens? I am unable to find one…

    1. Ray Post author

      The adapters that I linked are purely for 4/3 lenses. An alternative is to try and modify two simple extension tubes that are readily available on eBay, but it’s connecting the two that will be somewhat more difficult. One way to do this is to sleeve two tubes with a suitably fitting aluminium pipe and screw everything together to make up a solid adapter; perhaps not as elegant, but certainly functional.

      1. gnarlydognews

        OK, I get it. Something like this http://tinyurl.com/ntn4cew and then bonded end to end.
        I am proficient with epoxy and carbon, so I could bond two tubes together (of course just a short section, not the whole set) and end up with a double ender for M43.
        Thank you for the idea.

        1. Ray Post author

          Yes, exactly! However, I would try and source a metal tube that would sleeve inside the two extension tubes and then bond the lot together. Personally, I would use some screws to ensure that the two ends couldn’t separate. Otherwise the construction would be quite robust.

          1. gnarlydognews

            oh, I was thinking of using super-bling carbon weave cloth and maybe even cover a section of the tubes, externally, then clear coat and make it shiny 🙂
            Carbon can be stronger than steel if used correctly.
            The internal tube however has got merit and possibly less messy.

  2. alangallery

    I think you are asking a lot of the screws that hold the lens mount on to the lens. I would say that they are the weakest link in the system and being pre-loaded then subject to additional cyclic loading however small from walking around could lead to fatigue failure of the screws and damage to the lens . You will probably loose the head on one screw first and then the others soon after so please check the heads are all in place frequently.

    1. Ray Post author

      I don’t think it’s a major concern. I’ve been carrying the likes of the 35-100mm f2 for years on previous and current cameras and never had a problem. As long as the screws are tight on both lens and camera mount, there should be no issues. Obviously due care is always a good thing and I wouldn’t do something like cross-country running with the camera and lens slung over my shoulder.
      I fear more about hanging a camera and lens off the tripod mount and using plastic locking clips, I’ve had the latter come undone on a camera bag in the most undesirable of situations (wading across a river).

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