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For less than a buck, this 3D-printed guard ring deters lens theft

Mark's Lens Safe demo
Professional music photographer Rutger Geerling was tired of seeing lenses being stolen off camera bodies during concerts. Thieves who may be unable to steal the entire camera have gotten savvy enough to quickly hit the release button to decouple the lens from the body, easily slipping away with what is often the most expensive part of the camera. So Geerling invented a novel and very inexpensive theft deterrent: a 3D-printed ring that wraps around the lens mount and covers the release button on the camera body.

The simple device is called Mark’s Lens Safe (named after Geerling’s friend, an audio technician who worked with him on the design). It works by essentially making it impossible to remove the lens with just one hand, forcing the user to reach a finger underneath the ring to access the release button. Obviously, this makes the process of switching lenses much more cumbersome for the photographer, but for many event shooters, that is a small price to pay for the added security.

It may seem like there would be no way for a thief to steal a lens right off a camera without it being obvious, but Geerling said it happens often when photographers are using two cameras. “You use one camera and the unused one hangs around your shoulder. That’s when thieves go for it and quickly release and grab the lens in one motion,” he told PetaPixel. “The problem is that the release button is basically too well designed. You can unlock and take off the camera in one swift motion with one hand.”

Photographers shoot multiple cameras to avoid having to change lenses on the fly, so such users likely won’t mind the added inconvenience of the Lens Safe as they won’t be changing lenses often.

Rather than marketing the product itself, Geerling has made the design freely available for download via PetaPixel. Owners of 3D printers can print the Lens Safe for about 60 cents worth of material and ordering one through a 3D printing service should also be quite affordable. The current design fits Canon DSLRs only, but Geerling hopes the community will help in redesigning it for other brands.

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