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Nikon Lens Caps (mini review)

posted Aug 23, 2011, 5:31 PM by Jose Velasquez   [ updated Sep 28, 2011, 5:18 PM ]
A few weeks ago I got curious about lens caps.

Is there truly a difference between the cheap, Chinese knock-offs and the OEM caps for Nikon lenses? The answer is a big YES! The difference begins with price, continues with material, and ends with spring tension.

Let's begin with the price. I purchased one cap from China for about $2.50. I purchased a genuine Nikkor lens cap for about $7.50 at Adorama. That's way more than double. It almost seems like a rip-off. In some ways it is, but I'll discuss that later. Second the plastic of each cap is reflected in the price. The cheaper the cap, the more flimsy the plastic feels; the more expensive the cap the more rugged and solid the plastic feels. Finally the springs used in each cap are worlds apart. The cheaper the cap the looser the springs (i.e. it's not hard to pinch the cap); the more expensive the cap the greater the effort required to pinch the cap (i.e. it's got taut springs).

Upon a casual glance these differences are not apparent. And that's good, because caps are not cheap to replace, which is why I haven't wholly discounted cheap caps. 

Can you tell the difference? At first glance it's difficult, but only one of these caps is genuine. Which one? The one that looks cheaply made is the knock-off and the one that looks well made is the genuine one. If my description doesn't help you, then keep reading.

These images make it difficult to tell the difference between the legit goods and the knock-off. All I can say is the nicer the plastic looks, and the thicker the Nikon letters are are a big giveaway. Also note on the back the small "Made in Thailand" stamp just to the left of the springs, inside the little groove. Those are big clues to it being a genuine cap. If that still doesn't help you, then I'll tell you. The cap on the left is the knock-off; the cap on the right is the legit cap.

I have to hand it to the Chinese--their knock-offs are getting better and better since they took over the accessories market. However, quality is nowhere near the original. However, that is a moot point, as the legit goods are not cheap. Lens caps have a habit of being dropped, lost, broken, forgotten, and left on subways, trains, and taxis. That's why I am not going to say that investing more money in a lens cap is worth the money. Only a fool with money to burn would say that.

Having said that I must say you do get what you pay for--quality always comes at a price; however, if the purpose of a cap is merely to protect your lens or your filter then you're getting ripped off with the legit caps. Why? Because they're so easy to lose and misplace. The cheaper they are to replace the more of them you can have and afford to lose.

Watch the following video to see what a difference the springs make.

  Pros       Cons
 Nikon Better build quality, taught springs, doesn't slip off so easily
 Expensive, expensive, expensive, and did I mention expensive to replace?
 Knock-off Lesser build quality, loose springs, cheap, cheap, cheap, and did I mention cheap to replace?
 It may slip off more easily than genuine cap; however, I have yet to experience this, so take that with a grain of salt. As long as the cap can stay on there it is doing the job for which it was designed.

Conclusion: Buy the cheaper caps if you're not vain because they'll be easy on your wallet to replace; buy the more expensive caps if you're vain or if you have money to burn.

Till my next review, rambling, or post, this is, hey, hey,