Focus Aid for Zoom Lenses

I don't know about you, but I have a heck of a time with telephoto zoom lenses in keeping the zoom and focus rings separate. No matter how hard I try, I always get caught up in the moment of the scene in front of my camera and as I reach up to the zoom to change it (still looking through the viewfinder), I grab the focus ring instead and change it. Okay, I admit it, I get lost in what I am seeing and literally lose touch with my gear. If I am after some careful focus point like on these buckwheat flower seed heads (a great fall color, by the way), it is really frustrating to have to start over again.

Well, I found something that really works for me. It might seem a little crazy and odd, but I'll use anything that makes my life easier! I had been looking for a silicone jar opener that can be used for video change of focus. So I was in a local cooking wares store and came across this strange penguin-shaped silicone grip for unscrewing the lid on a jar. I thought, Why not? It wasn't much money.

It fit my long zoom perfectly well and I realized immediately it did something I had not expected. It stuck up from the surface of the lens and provided a tactile change to the lens that made the focus ring really easy to find. And of course, if the focus ring is easy to find, then the zoom lens is also easy because it is the ring without the blue penguin on it!

I liked this so much that I left the grip on the lens. The blue isn't too bad (it also came in a hot pink that is a little too flashy for me!). So if you have trouble keeping from grabbing the wrong ring on your lens, check out a cooking wares store and see what they might have in silicone jar openers!

About Rob

I am proud of the work I have done as a photographer, author, naturalist and nature photographer, editor and videographer. I love the natural world, and that can be a native bee in my native plants garden as much as a visit to a national park. I am a husband of a beautiful and smart wife, a father to my outstanding son and daughter, and one who lived in Minnesota most of my life, but now loves the variety and very long growing season of Southern California. I have written and photographed a lot of books and magazine articles but what is most important to me about them is knowing that I have helped people become better photographers and gain a better connection to nature. I work to help people connect with photography and nature through speaking and as a workshop leader, too. All of this has gained me a Fellow award with the North American Nature Photography Association. Many people knew me as the long-time editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine and I am still connected with them as a contributing editor. A short list of some of the books I have done: Landscape Photography: From Snapshot to Great Shot, Magic of Digital Landscape Photography, The Magic of Digital Nature Photography, National Geographic Field Guide to Digital Photography, The Power of Black-and-White in Nature Photography and Reports from the Field (an iBook). My website is at; my blogs are at and
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2 Responses to Focus Aid for Zoom Lenses

  1. Jan says:

    Rob that is a great idea! Actually anything that changes the feel of the focus ring would do as well. I think every photographer has had this small but annoying problem. What a fix!

  2. Jack Phipps says:

    Great idea. Thanks for the info. Headin for Walmart

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