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Review: Grab Focus Lens Cover for Olympus 12mm f/2.0

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by woof, May 20, 2013.

  1. woof

    woof Mu-43 Top Veteran

    511
    Oct 18, 2011
    The present.
    A short time back, Bravin Neff posted a thread concerning a product he has produced calls the "Grab Focus Lens Cover" See: https://www.mu-43.com/f38/protect-your-lens-45909/. The product concept is a simple one: The Grab Focus Lens Cover is a cover or skin for various Mu43 prime lenses that is intended to protect the lenses from damage. Nothing more, nothing less. Bravin is producing covers for the Olympus 12mm f/2.0, Olympus 45mm f/1.8, the Olympus 17mm f/1.8, the Panasonic 25mm f/ 1.4 and the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7. This review is for the Olympus 12mm f/2.0.

    In the box

    For the Olympus 12mm f/2.0, the box contains three (3) items. 1. A cover, 2. a small plastic ring, and 3. Instructions. The instructions are decent, thought installation is pretty intuitive. My suggestion to bravin would be the addition of material clarifying the role of the plastic ring for the Olympus 12mm and 17mm lenses.

    Installing the Cover

    Installing the cover on the Olympus 12mm f/2.0 (and the 17mm f/1.8) requires putting the lens in auto-focus mode with the focus snap-ring in the forward position. A plastic ring is then placed around the lens behind the snap focus ring in the channel that allows the focus ring to travel back to the MF position. This insures that when the cover is installed from the front, the focus ring is not pushed back into the manual focus mode, disabling autofocus. The camera can still be placed into manual focus mode, but this must be done through the menus as opposed to by snapping the focus ring back.

    The cover is then installed easily over the lens by pushing it from front to back over the lens barrel. The cover itself is a plastic material and fits nicely over the lens. It is in most dimensions larger than the lens and has a strip of plush material on the interior which snugs up against the focus ring and holds the cover in place. When fitting the cover, this plush material comes in contact with the focus ring and establishes a very nice snug fit that takes just enough force to be positive without feeling overly tight or forced.

    p1642014072-4.

    Cover installed with 46mm filter (Panasonic G5 with P14-45mm) ​

    Fit and Finish

    The fit overall is very precise and the cover does not in any way wobble or have play. Thanks to the precise fit and a very fine focus ring mechanism on the Olympus 12mm f/2.0, focusing with the cover on is very smooth and unhindered. The fit at the front of the cover is also quite precise, and it stops perfectly at the edge of the lens allowing filters to be attached normally. The fit at the back of the lens is also quite precise, leaving just about one millimeter of clearance from the base, which I assume helps with insuring that it does not foul the body.

    The build quality is quite nice. The cover is significantly more rigid than I thought it would be. It appears to be quite durable. The color is black and the finish in normal use appears to be a semi-gloss; the color and finish are a nice complement to the black OMD EM-5 with which I use the 12mm f/2.0. The photographs in this article tends to show it as being a bit more shiny that it looks in practice, and this mostly attributable to the use of flash.

    In Practice

    I do not like pouches. While pouches are all very nice if you do not use your lenses much, I need ready access. I tend to shoot in some difficult and even dirty locations. I usually never put my bag or equipment on the ground. Messing around with pouches represents another potential point of failure for me. Dropping my lenses or anything else because I am trying to get a lens out of a pouch is not something I relish. I also tend towards minimalistic bags and pouches simply defeat this in too many ways. The idea of an integral cover that will protect my lens in the bag and on the camera body is therefore compelling.

    With the 12mm it is possible to grip the lens firmly enough to remove the lens with the cover on. On the other hand, I have not been able to put the lens on with the cover in a positive enough manner to trust that I've really sent the mechanism home. It can be done, but may represent a risk. This is a small thing, and sliding the lens cover forward half and inch for both removal and installation is an easy, quick and intuitive operation and insures that the lens is properly seated/unseated and that one has a good grasp of the lens.

    It should be noted that the cover has a small index mark that allows the orange dot on top of the lens at the rear to be seen. It is helpful for lining up the lens for installation, etc., but is really not required if one opts to install the lens while the cover is off or pushed a half an inch forward..

    It should also be noted that with the Olympus 12mm f/2.0, the cover extends to the end of the lens barrel. While the fit is such that you can install filters, the OEM hood will not fit over the lens cover.

    There are three possible solutions: 1. Trim the hood to the appropriate distance so that the hood can be installed; I ran this by Bravin and it seems this would not compromise the integrity of the product. I believe he is considering offering a model that allows for installation of the OEM hood; 2. Put a wider 46mm filter on the end that will allow the OEM hood to gain purchase. I don't recommend this, nor have I tested the idea. Frankly, I'd hate to find that it vignettes, and it would mean tracking down wide filters in an era where the thin filters are the easiest to find.

    The third possible solution is one that fits with how I already use the lens. I use a 46mm to 52mm step-up ring. To that I affix 52mm filter. I then use a "Perfect" Hood for the Sigma Super Wide II 24mm f/2.8 lens See: Sigma Perfect Hood for Super Wide II 24mm f/2.8 lens on eBay!

    This hood is made for a FF 24mm lens. When properly installed on the 12mm f/2.0 it does not vignette in any aspect ratio. For me then, this is a perfect setup to use this cover, and a lot less expensive. Since the hood removes very easily, it makes removal of the lens by partially removing the cover quite simple, and really not all that different than how I would do things normally.

    p1779569632-4.

    Camera with 46-52mm step-up, 52mm filter and Sigma Perfect hood (Panasonic G5 with P14-45mm) ​

    Discussion

    I did take the cover on a shoot in an abandoned factory. I do not have the material from that outing processed yet, but this is shot in the same location.

    p298229925-5.

    While the idea of a hood protector may not be useful to some, I find it a relatively compelling proposition, especially in the conditions depicted above. I routinely shoot photos in difficult conditions like this - dirty at best and even a little toxic at worst. I sometimes get into tight places where there is a lot of rusty, twisted metal over which I have to climb or through which I must navigate. I also shoot landscapes and at least a couple of times per year I do some moderately difficult hiking to get to locations that are not exactly roadside attractions. I like to use my equipment and at times I am much less focused on the equipment and a little more focused on getting the shot. A little protection is really nice to have, especially where it does not get in the way and is simple and straightforward to use.

    The 12mm is a favorite lens. Having a little extra protection for this lens is great. The cover does seem to seal the lens a little from foreign matter and while not weather sealing, it is better than nothing. The cover's tactile feel is slightly warmer to the touch and a little larger in terms of diameter than the 12mm's focus ring. To me it feels similar to the focus ring on the Sigma 19mm and 30mm, though a little wider - perfectly acceptable though not perhaps as satisfying (in theory) as the feel of cool metal. Yet this is the kind of thing I really do not notice in the field. When I am focusing the camera in pursuit of an image, the tactile feel of the lens simply does not tend to permeate the experience much - unless it somehow gets in the way. Like I said, I did take the cover shooting, and it did not register really at all other than that i was glad I had it.

    What did register was that at the end of the shoot there was a fine dust on the camera and cover. I removed the lens, put a body cap on and wiped the body. For the lens I removed the cover and rinsed and dried it. I did not detect any dust on the lens beyond the front element (filter).

    Another reason I like the cover is that compared to the silver 12mm, this makes the camera and lens a little less obtrusive. I routinely walk around in a city that is considered the sixth most dangerous in the country. Low profile is better. I will say that I consider it a benefit that it is black, and if I could have afforded the limited lens I'd have bought it. But if you are looking at this cover solely to turn you lens black, just buy a black lens. Other than the 12mm, Olympus and Panasonic sells them that way.

    But if you want something that can provided a modicum of protection both from dings as well as foreign matter, and which has a nice tactile feel, this is a good product that is well thought out, fits well, and simply gets the job done.

    Pros

    1. Provides good protection from dings
    2. May add a level of dust resistance
    3. Removeable/washable
    4. Nice build quality, nice feel
    5. Matte black finish matches black EM-5 nicely

    Cons

    1. No provision for OEM hood in this version (this does not affect me in the least)
    2. Best to remove it or push it forward when installing/removing lens (for me this is well worth the trip)
    3. Manual Snap Focus is compromised, though MF remains available through menus.

    I personally feel this is a great product. Overall it represents a simple concept that is nicely executed - it fills a need for some of us very well and too much should not be read into it. I do not worship my gear. But I do want to keep it nice without having necessarily to "baby" it.

    Perhaps it is most similar to the idea of an LCD protector. If someone was selling a lens and stated that it had one of Bravin's covers on it "from day one," I'd almost certainly feel this was a bonus.

    Thanks for reading

    woof!
     
  2. Savas K

    Savas K Mu-43 Top Veteran

    784
    Jan 10, 2013
    Very well written, Woof. It was an enjoyable read describing our forum member's new product idea.
     
  3. Bravin Neff

    Bravin Neff Mu-43 Regular

    192
    Sep 25, 2011
    Detroit
    Bravin Neff
    Thanks for the review woof!
     
  4. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Margaret
    Having tested the Grab Focus for the 45/1.8, I agree with Woof's assessment of the cover. I'm thinking about ordering one for my 17/1.8. :biggrin:
     
  5. drown

    drown New to Mu-43

    2
    Jul 2, 2012
    Where to buy this thing?

    I tried google it, but found nothing.
    How much?
     
  6. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    The creator is still working on his web presence, but he has stated that he will fulfill orders via PM in the meantime. You should check with him for prices, but in a previous post I seem to recall discussion of a price-point near US$10.
     
  7. woof

    woof Mu-43 Top Veteran

    511
    Oct 18, 2011
    The present.
    Hmm... I probably should have mentioned it. It will be $20.00. I hope I am not speaking out of turn here. This takes into account his costs.

    Username here is: Bravin Neff He responded to this thread. Please, by all means contact him and discuss it.

    woof!
     
  8. Grinch

    Grinch Mu-43 Top Veteran

    813
    Jan 9, 2011
    Canada
    I'm glad that this is useful to some people, but I can't see paying to disable the snap focus wheel. This was a major part of why I was willing to pay the premium for the 12mm and 17mm lenses. Now if it didn't screw with lens function, and I wasn't worried about the velvet lining wearing off and jamming the snap function with velvet fuzz overtime, this may be welcome. So at this time, I have to remain extremely hesitant of something that disables a major function of the lens, and also looks to be able to contaminate the the lens. Is there any warranty, and other measures to ensure that it doesn't destroy the workings of the lens? Twenty bucks to break my lens doesn't seem like a deal to me. Sorry to rain on your parade, Bravin neff, I'm just concerned with a product that I'm guessing has not been tested before release and may jeapordize people's investment. Your input would greatly be appreciated.
     
  9. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Margaret
    I've got a cover for the 45/1.8, so there's no issue with losing use of snap focus. But I do want to say that the velvety material is virtually no-pile and hasn't shed any fibers onto my lens. I'm not worried at all about this cover "breaking" my lens. On the contrary, I feel my lens is protected by it.

    --
    Sent from my phone. Please pardon my brevity!
     
  10. Bravin Neff

    Bravin Neff Mu-43 Regular

    192
    Sep 25, 2011
    Detroit
    Bravin Neff
    You make a good point. It has never been clear to me how much people value the snap focus function, but for me I have almost never used it. Note you still have full manual focus ability through menus, which is the only way you get manual focus on every other lens cover or no cover.

    You also don't lose snap focus if you don't put the cover on. I don’t say this to be smart, but it might be that the cover only makes sense for someone as protection in the bag, or in the pocket. Or perhaps the value of snap focus is so great that the small investment for the cover will simply never be worth it to you. I can understand that too. But when you realize that taking the cover on and off takes a whole 1 second, I venture to guess that your hangup with losing the snap focus would go away. Its not like you can't just pull the thing off (1 second) and then proceed with snap focusing away.

    I haven't had any issues with velvet fuzz. Note that the reason you lose snap focus on the O12 and O17 is that there is simply no other way to mount something that fits against the focus ring without simultaneously forcing the lens into manual-only mode unless you use a blocking ring behind it, and thereby forfeiting the snap thing.

    Rain away, its no problem.

    I have tested the product extensively. I have experimented with fleece, cotton, suede and felt before settling on the velvet material. I can tell you that the only reason I have at this point for seeking a different material would be to lower costs, not worry about fuzz. My O12 and O17 have had covers on them continuously now for over 4 months. No fuzz. No damage. Just coverage. Let’s suppose that 12 months from now I see there are six strands of velvet strings lying there, having worked their way off. Would that worry you? I conjecture you get more strings than that from pocket lint.

    I am working very hard on the business that will culminate in a webstore. The main thing I am working on is lowering costs. If I can automate the packing/shipping/handling and other things that take labor content out, I think I will be able to get the price down to $15ish shipped in the US. I can’t promise that, but that is very much my goal.

    While we’re on the subject of the velvet, one very clear way to get my cost down is to simply supply the velvet with the cover, unattached so that you have to stick it on yourself. Does anybody think that would be a good idea, or would it annoy people? My suggestion here is that not only would it help me bring the price down, it is perfectly conceivable somebody could apply whatever material they wanted in its place. Just a thought.

    Regards,
    Bravin Neff
     
  11. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    Good stuff, Woof. Thanks for the info. I also shoot urbex.
     
  12. twokatmew

    twokatmew Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 1, 2012
    Lansing, MI, US
    Margaret
    Bravin, perhaps I'm just a nervous nellie, but you managed to install the velvet strip perfectly aligned with the focus ring! Having never installed this particular material before, I've no idea how easy or difficult it is. If I end up with a band-aid stuck to itself, no biggie, as I have more in the box. The velvet would give me one shot. I'd prefer to pay a bit more and have the velvet installed. Would making this an option help with cost?

    --
    Sent from my Kindle Fire HD. Please pardon my brevity!
     
  13. RichDesmond

    RichDesmond Mu-43 Veteran

    356
    Nov 18, 2011
    Completely agree. :smile:
     
  14. Bravin Neff

    Bravin Neff Mu-43 Regular

    192
    Sep 25, 2011
    Detroit
    Bravin Neff
    I hear what you're saying. Even as much as I have done it by now, I still find it a little bit tricky. It can take me 2 minutes to get it applied correctly, because of the shape and awkwardness of getting your fingers inside and keeping the thing straight as you work around the circle.

    What I may end up doing (which is to say, I almost certainly will do) is add a ridge line to the ID of the cover as a guide to the velvet. With starting and end points to make it clear exactly where it goes. I feel a little dumb I haven't done this already.
     
  15. woof

    woof Mu-43 Top Veteran

    511
    Oct 18, 2011
    The present.
    Yes you do! Your series on the hospital was wonderful. The 16:9 shot of the great room and the shot of the ball were beautiful.

    I'd offer you a tour of my factory... for a tour of your hospital!

    woof!
     
  16. woof

    woof Mu-43 Top Veteran

    511
    Oct 18, 2011
    The present.
    A couple of points of order.

    1. No fuzz here either and I am not concerned much by that prospect having held it in my hand.
    2. I should have mentioned perhaps that I do use the snap mf ring for hyperfocal distance focusing in some situations, and in those cases I just pull the cover off. Easy on, easy off. I will say that jury is deadlocked on whether hyperfocal is really practical with this lens... need more work with it.
    2. I am squarely in the twokatmew camp of "have a professional do it" with respect to application of velvet material. Honestly Bravin, my guess is that people like me would drive you nuts. In the end you'd have to ramp up the price again to account for the stenciled guidelines for user installation.

    woof!
     
  17. entropicremnants

    entropicremnants Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jul 16, 2012
    John Griggs
    Sorry didn't get back here for awhile -- I just bought a cover for my 17mm f/1.8.

    Hey, you're on for trading tours!

    Oh, and this talk of "velvet fuzz" makes me think that would be a great name for a band maybe. You could have lady fascist-style cops on the cover only in black velvet instead of black leather... oh wait, that was a fantasy I had... nevermind...