A Low Tech Solution for a High-Tech Problem

Ever since I migrated to Canon from Nikon I have had a problem with one particular lens.  My 17-40 zoom is one of my most versatile focal lengths, but it has a series of concentric circles around the front of the lens as part of the design.  (Shown here with a rubber sunshade attached.)  For a topside shooter, no worries.  But for an underwater photographer with a dome port, it is the four rings closest to the lens that causes the issue. 

The paint is kind of shiny, and it reflects against the inside of the dome when pointing into the sun.  I was spending so much time Photoshop correcting the reflections, I figured there HAD to be a better way.


I’ve gone to great lengths trying to solve this issue, as described at the Seacam blog.

I tried blacking out the white letters with a black Sharpie, and I’ve even tried various typed of black matte paint.  Getting optical coating on my dome port helped a lot, as it significantly minimized internal reflections.  Still, in a few situations I was still getting those darn reflections! Very exasperating indeed.

Then, a friend wrote that he had had good luck taming different reflections inside his housing with a self-adhesive black matte material available from Edmund Scientific. Certainly worth a try!

So, today a big roll of the black flocked paper arrived.  Far more than I needed to fix the lens, but hey, for $10 (plus shipping, of course) I’m glad to have it around.  Now, how to make it fit the lens.  Well, the outside circumfernece wasn’t too hard as I used a 77mm threaded filter as a guide and cut it with an Exacto knife.  But, the interior circle was going to be tough.  Until I discovered that the outside diameter of a Nikon rear lens cap was a perfect template to guide the blade!

For about 15 minutes today I felt like an underwater photographic embodiment of Martha Stewart, or maybe MacGyver, but my arts and crafts project came up with a lovely solution to an ongoing and very vexing problem:


Sometimes the little achievements are so very satisfying.  Can’t wait to go shoot my new solution.

Note from Eric Cheng:

Stephen mailed me a sample of his underwater arts and craft project while I was in Palau a few weeks ago, and I gave it a try with my 16-35/2.8L lens. I found it to work very well; it solves the reflection issue in all but the most extreme circumstances, when the sun is overhead and I am shooting a vertical:


reflection still visible when shooting verticals
(no dome shade on top!)

You’ll notice that the reflection is only from the metal outer lip of the lens and isn’t from the concentric stripes (that are now covered up by Frink’s solution). I’ll bet the combination of a lens hood and Steve’s crafts project would cut out all reflections…