In our ongoing quest to make a cheap, modular camera bag, we discovered something: Putting a camera into our single-chamber Stealth Bag works great, but as soon as you add a lens or two, things start to get ugly. Why? The internal padding doesn't separate the different parts of your kit, so although they are well protected from the outside world, they are free to bang up against each other inside the bag.
The traditional solution is a bunch of separate compartments, but that's not very flexible, and the partitions are often confined to a single bag. We decided instead to make individual cosies for the lenses so they could be slung, safely, into any old backpack or suitcase. Best of all, if you already made the Stealth Bag, you won't have to buy anything — it's all done with leftovers.
For this project, we're using the same foam we used for the bag lining. It's thin, slightly squishy and offers a fair amount of protection. It's not a real replacement for a commercial, waterproof case, but for our uses, it turns out to be more than adequate.
Step One: Assemble Your Weapons
This time, I went with scissors instead of a craft knife. Even relatively blunt kitchen scissors go through the foam easily and give a much cleaner cut. You can probably identify the rest of the kit in the photo, including the accompanying listening — This Week in Stocks and Shares (formerly This Week in Tech).
Here we have the first strip, eyeballed to be the height of the lens plus the thickness of two pieces of foam (the top and bottom caps). Next, measure the length. If in doubt, go long. You'll see why in a second.
I wrapped the lens and marked a rough guide with a pencil. The v1 case, made over the weekend, was a little too tight, so I wanted this one to be big enough to slide the lens in and out easily. Here it is with a few strips of tape (gaffer, of course):
As you can see, I screwed up the measurement, but another thin foam shim takes care of the gap. It doesn't matter too much as this will be covered in tape. Next, the ends. By chance, the holes in each end are the same size as the inside of the roll of tape. I marked the foam using the roll as a template and cut with scissors. It's a little easier if you cut out a rough square first before refining the circle:
That one fit perfectly, so I immediately cut another. The bottom lid only needs to be taped in place as it will remain closed. I crossed the strips and finessed the creases as best I could:
It's not particularly tidy, but it'll do the job. For further dust and splash-proofing, you could cover the remaining gaps with more tape.
The top lid needs some kind of hinge and something to hold it shut. Gaffer tape works fine here, but a piece of self-adhesive Velcro would probably be better for the "clasp". I chose nothing to actually close the lid tight — friction does a good enough job for now, and there isn't any Velcro in the apartment.
I also ran an extra strip of tape down the inside seam of the cylinder to prevent gaping and strengthen the join:
The original version had a strip of gaffer tape running around the middle of the cylinder, but it tightened the case and didn't make anything much more secure than a strip on each side of the seam, as we did here.
So, here's the final case, offering its warm, motherly protection to a Nikon 28-105 Æ’3.5-4.5 AF-D lens. It looks so cosy!
Try it out. And if you do, post any tips back here. You can also add to this article along the bound How-To Wiki, and brand photos of your home-made goodies along the Gadget laboratory Flickr Group (where, incidentally, thither ar approximately first-class scanner-cam photos from penis McGiffert).