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Build your own Lens gears


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#1 Stefin

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 01:37 PM

Hi to all in wetpixelland(or sea).
This is my first post (with pictures and everything) to this forum,so if it goes a bit wrong forgive me.

So,you've found the perfect zoom lens,it does everything you want it to do and you got it at a great price.
You get on the phone to your camera housing supplier and "Sorry mate (insert Manufacturors name here) don't make a gear for that lens." Or,if they do "HOW MUCH!!!"

Here is my first successful D.I.Y. gear using a piece of plastic drainpipe and a section of plastic gearing "liberated" from Ocean Leisure's secondhand bin.
The lens is a Nikon 18/35 f3.5/4.5 (you know,the cheap one.)

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As you can see, I've Dremmeled a channel on to the end of the pipe so as to keep the curve of the gear. What you dont see is I cut a similar channel on the inside of the pipe,because,although the diameter was almost right it was too tight on the zoom ring grip of the lens. I've had this for several years and its never let me down.

OK, so you've probably seen something like this before, it was cheap to build but bits of gearing like that don't grow on trees. So I started looking around for easily available materials to make gears for other lenses. This is the upgrade:

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The lens is a 24/85 f 2.8/4.0, the white plastic ring is a section of pipe I found at a D.I.Y.store, something to do with a tumble drier, the black material covering it is heavy duty VELCRO adhesive backed tape, the plastic "hook"part of the tape provides the "grip" for the housing gear wheel to turn the zoom ring. Here is the camera and lens in the housing:

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And close up on the gear:

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The ring section was slightly larger than the diameter of the lenses zoom ring,so I used the"eye"part of the VELCRO tape (the furry bit) and stuck it on the inner wall of the plastic ring,this provided both grip on the zoom ring of the lens, and allowed a bit of "give" when the gear passed under the housing's gear wheel:

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If you're going to have a go at doing this yourself,start with a lens that has the zoom ring positioned directly underneath the housing gear wheel.
I like using slightly flexible plastic for the rings (easy to cut).
I've tried "cutting" a plastic ring to fit (if the ring is too big cut a section out and pull the two ends together to fit, OR the ring is too small,make a cut and spread the rig to fit)It works, but not as well as a complete ring.
Always use the heavy duty VELCRO "hook" part of the adhesive tape for the outer wall of your gear (it provides the best "bite" for your buck).

Posted Image

There's enough tape in this box to do every lens you ever owned (apart from Alex Mustard of course)

It may take a while to find a piece of pipe the right size for your project, but they,re out there. Alternativly you may have a tame machinist to hand,all you want is the ring cut, you fit the VELCRO to suit.

I hope this is of interest to the wetpixellers, I have been hooked on this site since I first found it and have looked in at least once every day.(Even when the hacker got us) You have answered every question I could think of (and several hundred others that I hadn't thought of) I even got some of the "in" jokes (NIKON vs CANON, or IKELITE vs everybody else) Brilliant site! Keep on keeping on.

#2 Notorious

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 05:52 PM

Man, I wish you'd posted this a couple of weeks ago!

Edited by Notorious, 17 September 2006 - 06:11 PM.

Canon 350D:Sigma 10-20mm:Magic filter:Sea&sea housing:Athena dome:
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#3 Arnon_Ayal

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Posted 17 September 2006 - 11:30 PM

Great post, I just started how to do something like that,
You save me so much time, Thanks
Arnon Ayal www.arnonayal.com
Nikon D200, Ikelite housing, Dual SB105.

#4 tkr

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 03:28 AM

Interesting post -ideas like this may help to get you started on a particular zoom to see if you like that particular lens
If you do it seems a great low cost way of getting the zoom to work. I wonder though how much slipping occurs with the velco againts the housing gear?

#5 james

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 05:32 AM

Great post!

I remember when Ryan used a sewing machine belt for a zoom gear on a particularly fat lens.

Cheers
James
Canon 1DsMkIII - Seacam Housing
Dual Ikelite Strobes
Photo site - www.reefpix.org

#6 Stefin

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Posted 18 September 2006 - 02:51 PM

Thanks for the positive replies.

To notorious, I'm sorry, wanted to post this for a long time, but when it comes to computer stuff I,m the guy they wrote the "Idiots" guides for. I really fancied having BIG pictures in my post, it took a while to work out how some folks got big pictures and some only got thumbnails, then had to work out how to get some personal webspace. All the web tutorial pages I looked start with "HTML is really easy" and everything after that goes over my head... Dont you hate that!
Then I found Adobe Web Gallery in photoshop..... Brilliant, does it all for you, then its just a matter of publishing your website.....then trying to find your website....Ah there it is..... And bob's your uncle...No, then I've got to link my pictures to my wetpixel post while single finger typing out the words (Attach picture,Copy,Paste,Copy,Paste) Man I need a drink..OH £$%^& THE PUBS ARE CLOSED!
Anyway, I know how to do it now, so look out for D.I.Y. Gearing Pt 2 coming soon.

To Arnon, keep me posted on your project and if I can help dont hesitate.

Tkr, I've had no problem with slipping, I believe it's due to the furry part of the tape stuck on the inner wall of the D.I.Y.gear, not only does it provide the necessary grip on the lens zoom ring, it is also springy, pushing the gear on to the housings gear wheel giving it extra grip plus allowing the housing gear wheel to turn when the tip of each tooth pushes the gear around.

#7 Notorious

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Posted 20 September 2006 - 08:41 PM

Using Stefin's most excellent ideas on Zoom gears. I have just fabricated a gear for my Sigma 10-20mm in a 350D housing.
Posted Image
After much digging around in a hardware store I found an ideal piece of plumbing to use for the gear. The item I used is here http://www.iplex.com.......201025&cat=

I cut the narrowest ring of the pipe off at the shoulder and this was the part I used.
On the inner face of the ring I stuck a length of 3M draught excluder to fit snugly on the lens. It actually produced a rather positive pop on/off effect with lots of grip on the lens.

Posted Image
The outside of the ring is exactly the correct diameter to touch the gear of the housing firmly. All it needed was a bit of friction. This can be achieved by adding some sticky backed rubber or similar. I used the sticky stuff that came with another sea&sea lens gear. A thick rubber band or slice of inner tube would probably also work.

I'm really pleased with the solution for my zoom gear. I mainly use the lens at 10mm but to have the option to zoom is a great bonus.......and cheap!
Thanks again Stefin!
Canon 350D:Sigma 10-20mm:Magic filter:Sea&sea housing:Athena dome:
BlueNude

#8 rbailey

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 12:08 AM

I was also struggeling to get the Sigma 10-20 to fit in my Ike housing. The zoom sleeve is to small to allow the clamp to fit on the lens.
I got creative with insulation tape and a couple of bits of cut up cable tie.

http://www.images-un.....20mm lens.htm

Cheers,
Richard B.
Camera : Canon 350 D. (8MP, D-SLR, APS-C.)
Housing : Ikelite eTTL hosuing.
Ports : 6" Dome, 8" Dome and Flat port and selection of extenstions.
Lenses : Sigma 10-20mm, 17-70mm Macro, 105mm Macro (with +4 diopter).
Stobes : 2 x Ikelite DS 125.
Arms : Ikelite, 18 inch quick release (LHS) and 8"+6" standard (LHS).
AND a Yellow Box Of Delights to breath from undewater and loads of other really fun stuff.


Check out ther results at :-

http://www.images-underwater.net/



#9 Stefin

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 11:37 AM

Notorious, neat job! Especially like the draft excluder. Must try that on my next project.

Edited by Stefin, 21 September 2006 - 03:33 PM.


#10 james

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 11:59 AM

What, you guys don't like paying $200 for a gear? :-)
Canon 1DsMkIII - Seacam Housing
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Photo site - www.reefpix.org

#11 Stefin

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 12:17 PM

Mr bailey, good solution. but, just a thought, applying adhesive tape directly to your zoom ring and left on for any lenght of time may damage the finish of your lens. Something to think about if you upgrade to a new lens and sell it on. Look around for a plastic ring that will slip over the lens but also slips into your zoom attachment a second piece of the same plastic about the size of a matchstick firmly fixed onto this ring would fit snugly into that slot on your zoom gear. Much easier to get on and off and wont spoil the look of your lens.

#12 bmyates

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Posted 21 September 2006 - 02:13 PM

Great post, and WELCOME, Stefin!

Bruce Yates
www.UnderwaterReflections.com
Canon 5DMkII in Aquatica, 1DsMkII in Seacam, G15 in RecSea...Inon Z240's...too many lenses
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damned fool about it." WC Fields


#13 Notorious

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 01:28 AM

What, you guys don't like paying $200 for a gear? :-)


I just find it hard to spend that kind of money on a gear and then have to saw/file away at it in hope that it will fit my unsuported lens :blush:
Canon 350D:Sigma 10-20mm:Magic filter:Sea&sea housing:Athena dome:
BlueNude

#14 Stefin

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Posted 22 September 2006 - 10:59 AM

Think of it like this: 5% of the cost, 200% job satisfaction.

#15 johnny boy

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 08:07 AM

Thanx again for this post. I've just successfully made by own lens gear using an old waste pipe fitting and some velcro. I can now house and use a lens I thought was a no no.

cheers

John

#16 Stefin

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Posted 29 May 2007 - 01:21 PM

Thanx again for this post. I've just successfully made by own lens gear using an old waste pipe fitting and some velcro. I can now house and use a lens I thought was a no no.

cheers

John

Let's see some pictures Johnny Boy! :)

#17 Jez_Tryner

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Posted 30 August 2007 - 09:04 PM

you all make me seem a bit crass,i superglued a q-tip to my lens and pulled the rubber flashing from the lens over it to provide more diameter, not pretty but it works and i only use the lens in my housing.
oops , always a bit brash
Jez
Canon 5d mkII + Canon 10D, Sea and sea housings, 2xInon z-240 + 2xSea and sea ys-90dx, sigma 105mm, 50mm, 12-24mm Canon 17-40mm, Tokina 10-17mm.
Komodo diving - Bali diving - Burma diving - Maldives diving - Sulawesi diving - Raja Ampat diving.

#18 rbailey

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Posted 13 January 2009 - 08:53 PM

My site died, and links with it. Herewith updated :-

http://www.images-un...zoom_clamp.html

Cheers,
Richard B.
Camera : Canon 350 D. (8MP, D-SLR, APS-C.)
Housing : Ikelite eTTL hosuing.
Ports : 6" Dome, 8" Dome and Flat port and selection of extenstions.
Lenses : Sigma 10-20mm, 17-70mm Macro, 105mm Macro (with +4 diopter).
Stobes : 2 x Ikelite DS 125.
Arms : Ikelite, 18 inch quick release (LHS) and 8"+6" standard (LHS).
AND a Yellow Box Of Delights to breath from undewater and loads of other really fun stuff.


Check out ther results at :-

http://www.images-underwater.net/



#19 tombu

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Posted 19 January 2009 - 01:59 AM

Hi everybody,
I also made two Zoomgears - inspired by this thread!
I used a pipe with two rubbers inside - connection piece or so - and got nearly the same as velcro from my brother from his work (industrial thing - both sides are plastic).
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So I just wanted to do it for the Sigma 17-70 but noticed the pipe fitted perfect for the Nikkor 12-24:
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Here for the Sigma 17-70:
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Here it's in the housing:
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Thanks everybody for your inspiration :)
Greetings Tom

#20 wizbowes

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Posted 05 April 2009 - 05:22 AM

Great thread. You can also make your own rings with some mouldable plastic called Polymorph (at least that's the brand name on the UK).

Pretty good stuff - heat it up in hot water and then mould it. I always take some away with me on diving holidays just in case - comes in handy for making bespoke holders, clips etc.