Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 2 out of 5
Yeah, but: It has a great name.
The Long Version: Neoprene is an amazing thing. It seems like it's always called "wetsuit material", as if that's something that most people own, while it's actually ubiquitous in small electronics cases, laptop sleeves, and anything else that needs a little bit of stretch and a modest amount of cushioning. The Hood Hat from Op/Tech is a perfect use for it.
I discovered the Hood Hat through the review of it on Roger (Hicks) and Frances (Schultz) excellent Photo School website. It's worth a thorough and extensive visit, and I have to admit that there's not much that I can add to the Hood Hat that they haven't already said. Essentially: the neoprene provides good protection, a secure fit, and they're easy to put away when the lens is being used. I drop my lens caps back in the camera bag when they're not being used, and hood hats don't rattle when the bag is jostled and I don't worry about dropping the lens on top of it when I have to switch in a hurry.
I have the "micro" size hat to fit over the hoods on two of my little Zeiss M-mount lenses. Rangefinder lenses in general are perfect candidates for Hood Hats, since they extend far enough down the barrel of these diminutive lenses that it obstructs the controls on the lens barrel, making it immediately obvious when they're still attached. No more black photos because the lens cap was left on. Zeiss ZM lenses are even better candidates for Hood Hats because their original lens caps are atrocious. Not the worst I've ever seen – that honour goes to the new Tokina 16-28/2.8 – but really bad just the same.
The other lens that gets a Hood Hat is coincidentally also a Zeiss, as the lenses for Hasselblad take custom sizes. The "Small" size turns out to be a good fit for the 150mm f/4 T* CF lens, although the hat does extend far enough back to bump the depth of field preview lever. Not a big deal at all, and a simple fix to an otherwise irritating lack of standardization.
To be honest, if a lens has a reasonably deep hood then I rarely bother with a lens cap. Having a hat that goes on over the hood doesn't really seem to answer a burning need for most photographers, and I'm not about to add them to any of the other lenses that I have in my collection. But it's a solid product that does serve a small niche (rhymes with quiche) and I'd certainly miss them if they were gone. It's not every day that someone takes the time to improve on something as basic as a lens cap, even if there isn't much need for it.
last updated 21 apr 2011