Lens creep is a really annoying issue that happens with a lot of lenses. Many times you don’t even know your lenses are doing it until you notice your framing on your image just changed, and it cropped into your shot.
As food photographers, we need to use a few different types of lenses. We have prime lenses, and zoom lenses.
For those of you starting out, here are some lens basics. Before we go into what lens creep is, you need to understand how lenses physically work.
Prime lenses have one focal length, like the 100mm lens or the 50mm lens, for example. That number, the 100 or the 50, is the focal length of that lens. And because there is just that one number, that’s what tells you it’s a prime lens or fixed lens (same thing).
Zoom lenses have a range of focal lengths. One of my favorite zoom lenses is a 24-105mm zoom lens. So this lens can be a focal length of 24mm through 105mm. This is very convenient and gives us a lot of flexibility when shooting.
The way the zoom lens works is by a rotating ring (it’s actually like a collar) on the lens, that as you turn that ring, the focal length will change. The focal length will zoom in, or zoom out.
On zoom lenses, there are TWO rings – a focusing ring and a zoom ring.
So What Is Lens Creep?
Lens creep is a huge problem, and many zoom lenses do it. Lens creep is when your camera is at a slight angle and gravity makes the zoom lens start moving, start zooming without you touching it. It’s changing the focal length because the lens can’t support the weight of the elements inside the lens.
Many times you might not even notice this. You’ll set your focal length, take a picture, adjust something on set, take another picture and your frame just got a little tighter. The lens zoomed in a tiny bit while you didn’t notice.
Some lenses are more susceptible to lens creep than others unfortunately. They are so bad, you see the lens moving quite quickly so it’s more obvious.
That’s what happens to me with my Canon 24-105mm lens. I do a lot of overhead shots. As soon as I rig my camera for an overhead shot, the lens barrel zooms all the way down, fast. It will not hold its position. It’s been a problem since day one, but has gotten much worse over time.
I literally had to tape my lens! You can’t get more unprofessional than that.
How To Fix Lens Creep
I actually thought that my lens was broken because my lens creep got so bad. I took my lens into Canon to get it fixed thinking that something must have worn out on the ring that controls the zooming.
Canon fully serviced my lens and told me it was working just fine! I told that guy that it had to be a mistake, and that they missed the lens creep issue. He said, “Oh no, that’s totally normal.” What??? He couldn’t be serious. Oh but he was.
So how did he fix it? With a $5 lens band placed on the lens! That’s it. I couldn’t believe it. This was at THE Canon repair center in Costa Mesa, CA, not some weird camera repair shop.
This lens band is very tight, so it’s compressing the zoom ring just enough to keep it so that it won’t move on its own. That’s it. Super simple.
He explained that there just isn’t much that they can do to stop lens creep from happening, and once a lens starts doing the creep, it’s a permanent issue.
You can try using regular rubber bands. For me, that didn’t work. I had to use tape or a thicker lens band.
So there you have it. Lens creep. Totally annoying. So, if this is happening to you, just know there’s nothing wrong with your lens, it’s just… creepy.
Here’s an example of some lens bands on Amazon to give you an idea.
The image below is an Amazon affiliate links – should you buy anything, they will throw me a few pennies at no cost to you.
Hope this post was helpful for you. I know lens creep drives me nuts and luckily the fix is super simple for once.
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