Painting Camera Lenses with Rubberized Truck-bed Undercoating

One thing not a lot of people know about me as a photographer is the fact that I paint my camera gear on occasion. It’s mostly cheap lens hoods but also occasionally camera lenses and I do so to make them more tough and durable. Pictured above is the Panasonic Lumix 100-300 and the Panasonic Lumix G 42.5mm Nocticron!

I wouldn’t advise this if you are planning on re-selling your gear. However, I’m pretty invested into the Micro Four Thirds format since I sold most my Nikon DSLR gear in 2008 to make this major switch to M/43 and since then, I have never looked back.

The only reservation I had about my mirrorless gear is the fact that some of my lenses felt pretty plasticky including the cheap lens hoods that came with some primes.  After thinking long and hard about it, I felt like things should have some extra protection implemented. So I took the liberty of painting my lenses in rubberized undercoating to toughen them up a bit and it really works like a charm! These two lenses aren’t the first to get this sort of treatment.

One of my favorite lenses to be released by Panasonic was the 42.5mm Nocticron which is built solidlyand I used it on a 14,500 mile photography journey around the Desert Southwest last April and May. What I didn’t like about the Nocticron though was the oversized metal lens hood which seemed to scuff up the outer edge of the Nocticron barrel. I ended up retiring this hood and buying a generic 67mm lenshood that I could screw onto the UV filter up front making it look much more stealthy. I then painted the lens including the outer barrel as you can see above.

Not all paint coatings and rubberized undercoatings are created equal. Some rubberized undercoatings are downright CRAP and you should avoid the cheap brands at the local Autozone or else you run the risk of destroying your lens. I’ve had quite a few years of trying this and experimenting and the best recommendation that I can give is to use Evercoat Automotive Premium Rubberized Undercoating for a real heavy duty job. This is by far the toughest paint for protecting expensive lenses if you want to go down this route and give it a try. This may sound utterly insane, but if I owned the Leica Noctilux, I might be tempted to try this method on one of those!

The end result is this; It will also make cheaper plastic lenses feel much more durable and weather resistant. It seems to help my equipment hold up much better under heavier usage and stay new longer.

All I used was electrical black tape to cover up areas that I didn’t want exposed to rubberized undercoating and it takes about an hour to dry and 24 hours to completely set before the smell starts to fade after the paint job is completed. Sometime I put a second coat on to be extra safe but be careful not to over-do it! I’ve had this undercoating on some of my equipment going on 5 years now and it’s still looking new. I just like it because it makes me feel like I have something nobody else has ever really tried and I thought maybe this would be of interest to you. I’ve had people asking me to post something about this, so here you go.

Comments

  1. Hey that’s a pretty cool idea – I was thinking of this but never thought of using truck-bed paint. I settled for a Silver Olympus 75mm F1.7 a couple of years back, I wanted the black but I couldn’t find it at the right price anywhere. It’s a beautiful well-built all-metal lens, but it’s not stealthy, slippery to hold and looks out of place on my GH4. I might just give this a try. But I think we’d all appreciate if you went into more detail about how you paint them. Is this stuff spray-on or brush-on? How do you protect the front glass, etc…

  2. Could you post some photos of the painted hood mounted on the lens?

  3. ruined forever.
    worthless in the used market.
    at least use plastidip so you can peel it off later.

  4. As a former collision repair specialist my concern is the solvents used in the coating. Over time this could break down plastics and possibly more. With new lenses I would imagine that the warranty would be voided.

  5. Chris Baude says:

    Just curious, How do you attach the wonderful all metal solid Nocticron hood?

  6. Hey, great.
    I’ve been experimenting with various materials for making actual *grips* for cameras and tablets, or sometimes just add a better grip to a surface of an ereader or iPad.
    My most recent success was shaping a moderate grip for the Olympus E-M5II with Sugru (sugru.com), and then on top of that put skateboard Grip sheet. It’s similar to rough sandpaper. Man, does *that* give a grip! Much better than all the rubber sheets I’ve tried. It looks good I think, and with enough care can be made to look so good that almost everybody will think it’s part of the camera.

    This car undercoating, does it radically improve the grip of the surface?

    Yours, Eolake

    eReaderJoy.com

    • It does work better for me. Although I noticed in the heat, it’s not so beneficial. What I appreciate most is the fact that it protects my lenses from dings though. It’s been very functional now so far. It does feel a little like sand paper!

  7. BTW, the “Sugru” I used to make the grip is a like a combo of glue and clay. It is fantastically practical for so many things. (Downsides: not cheap for big projects, and it takes a day to set.) It will glue to basically anything, and is very very hard and strong when set. But when in a thin form, it’s also flexible (I’ve used it to make a strap on the back on a small ereader). Many tips on Sugru.com. (I’m not affiliated. 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. Dan Johnson says:

    I really like the info you are posting for customizing lenses like this. Gonna try it! 🙂 I have the Nocticron!

  2. […] undercoating designed for the undercarriages of automobiles.On his web site Talking Tree Photo, Cowlishaw writes that whereas he principally makes use of the spray on low cost lens hoods, he additionally […]

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