Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Lens Flipper part 2

A few months ago I found a little device I thought was ingenious. It allowed you to carry and swap out lenses without the fear of dropping a lens because the lens was always locked into a device (either the camera or Lens Flipper itself).

During my initial review (see here) I mentioned that I was nervous about putting a heavy lens on it because I didn't feel it would stand up to the weight. I received an email stating that the Lens Flipper was tested to hold about 132 pounds. Taking their word for it, I set off to photograph the Austin City Limits Festival and I used the Lens Flipper to carry the new $Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 | S lens that was on loan from Sigma. The lens weighs about 7.5-8 pounds. A far cry from 132 pounds.

Well the unthinkable happened. The Lens Flipper failed and the Sigma lens dropped to the asphalt and smashed many of the internal elements. This is what the $3599 lens looks like after falling straight to the asphalt.

After a bit of back and forth with the Lens Flipper company (which initially expressed some doubt that they were at fault) I was informed during the manufacturing process in the plant in Korea the screws were not tightened down to the correct specifications and therefore were prone to loosening. The loose screws caused the lens mount to flex and warp enough that the locking pin that holds the lens securely in place was rendered useless resulting in a catastrophic failure. 
Here you can see the loose screw.

This shows how the metal lens mounting flange warped under the pressure of the weight of the lens.

This also shows warpage of the metal flange.

In this image you can see that the loosening of the screws cause the locking pin to remain recessed therefore leaving the lens dangling with no way to stop it from twisting it's way loose from the lens mount.

The Lens Flipper company has released a statement saying that only the Nikon F and Sony E mount Lens Flippers were affected. They claim that simply taking a small precision screwdriver and tightening the screws will alleviate this problem. I no longer have a Lens Flipper so I cannot personally attest this will fix the problem or not. 

In my opinion I would be very cautious using this product, especially with large telephoto lenses. To be fair, Lens Flipper is working with Sigma to repair or replace the damaged lens. 

Personally, I cannot in good conscious recommend the Lens Flipper to any of the readers of my blog, my magazine articles, or my Nikon Digital Field Guides. Even after you tighten the screws down there is no guarantee that they won't work themselves loose again with repeated use. To be on the safe side I would return any Lens Flipper for a factory replacement at the very least.

If you are familiar with my blog and books then you know I have never posted a bad review on any other product. While this device is a great concept, in my personal opinion the quality control was seriously lacking and that the product could make use of better material such as thicker metal mounts and longer locking pins to minimize warpage that can cause the locking pin to become flush with the mount causing the lens to release and drop to the ground. 

Note: This review is my personal opinion relating my own experiences to using the Lens Flipper. 

No comments: