I have just written up a daily weblog column for the old camera shop that compared metal lens mounts with plastic ones. It is a good, balanced article and should prove useful for novice photographers. Now I have had dinner and can write an unbalanced and biased one to counteract it. People who read both my columns…plus the one about toy cars and backstabbing…will have an opportunity to become totally confused.
I understand the need to make things. I make things. I understand the need to make things cheaply. I make things cheaply. But I am astounded that the major camera manufacturers can have consciously decided to make plastic lens mounts.
Don’t get me wrong – I love plastic. It was the material of my childhood toys and my adult denture laboratory. I use it all the time now in my model workshop, and can manage several forms of it very well. And I understand that there are places on a modern camera that benefit from the light weight, insulating properties, and moldability of the substance. But there are places where it is just a bizarre engineering decision, and I think one of those places is the bayonet mount of a camera lens.
In my other article I praised the light weight, and the fact that the lens mount could act as a breakaway shock absorber for the camera in disastrous situations. Well honestly, unless you are in the semi-finals of Australia’s Fighting Cameras, there is really no reason you should contemplate whacking someone with your DSLR*. I have seen fractured lens bayonets and I have seen them replaced and repaired by the shop’s service department, but in none of the cases was there much thinking going on.
The action of mounting and dismounting a lens with one of these polycarbonate mounts is pretty smooth – buttery plastic on either metal or other buttery plastic – but that is because the parts are wearing each other out every time you turn them. And turn them with just that little bit too much gorilla force and you are into the fracture zone.
In the end, it’s money. Plastic part cheaper than metal part. Lens cheaper. You buy lens cheap cheap, we love you long time. Or at least until you break…then you pay, you pay.
Note: Disregard all of the above if the camera costs less than $ 49.95 and is shaped like a super hero or a cat. Then plastic is good
- Use a Seagull 4A. All metal with sharp edges.