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Camouflage texture on wildlife lens covers seem pretty popular. I get that the covers can be great to protect the lens from dents and scratches as well as to protect the hands of thephotographer from a cold barrel.

However I'm not convinced that it helps at all in camouflaging the lens so that the photographer is less likely to be noticed by animals. In my very limited experience in wildlife photography, the animals don't seem to care about the lens barrel itself. They rather seem to react to reflections from the front element and general movement.

Is there any benefit at all of having the camouflage texture or is this just a marketing trick taking advantage of the gulliblity among certain people that are attracted to anything that allude to military stuff.

Looking for answers on the Internet seem to indicate (but not entirely conclusively) that the camouflage is rather useless: [1], [2], [3]. If you can I'd be happy if you provide a good source if you know the answer.

closed as primarily opinion-based by AJ Henderson, Philip Kendall, Matt Grum, Nir, ElendilTheTall Oct 8 '14 at 13:58

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • It's harder to notice movement when the thing that's most likely to move blends in with the background. – Caleb Oct 6 '14 at 20:37
  • I don't see any way that you can get hard data on this, which makes it entirely opinion based as your research has already shown. – AJ Henderson Oct 6 '14 at 21:14
  • If you're shooting with Canon, just covering up the white of the lens certainly can't hurt. – JenSCDC Oct 7 '14 at 0:53
  • I'd guess that there is hard data, in the form of studies of various species' visual systems. Hard data that's easily accessible and comprehensible? Um.... – JenSCDC Oct 7 '14 at 1:54
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    @AndyBlankertz - even if it makes it harder to see, it doesn't give much of an idea if it makes a practical difference when shooting. I'm not sure how you would even gather good scientific data on the impact of camouflage on shooting photos of animals. There is simply too many subjective data points (skill of the photographer at photos, skill of the photographer at stalking, location, what photos are better, other equipment factors, etc). – AJ Henderson Oct 7 '14 at 14:22
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Movement, scent, noise and shape are more likely to effect an animal's behaviour than the pattern of the camouflage used on a lens. However the pattern may help in that it breaks up the shape of the outline of the lens, which is alien to the animal's habitat and will most likely be seen a trap. As many animals are colour blind, the colour may not effect them, but if it looks obviously manmade to them, they will behave cautiously around it. Also, the placement of the animal's eyes can effect how the lens is viewed. For example, a bird with the eyes located at the sides of it's head, will possibly notice the circular pattern of the front element of the lens when facing to the side (in front of the camera's position) rather than facing towards the lens. The material used on the lens cover can also reflect infra red or ultra violet light, which would be invisible to us, but may also be seen by certain animals or birds.

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I think animals are more likely to notice the lens glass as that's what is pointed in their direction. It's hard to say that they'd notice the side of something not facing them. Also consider that they're more likely to notice you before they notice the relatively small lens.

However, I wouldn't knock the product as being completely useless. Yes, there are scratch/dent advantages to having it, but there are also people that use cameras for less artistic purposes (paparazzi, private investigators, and covert operators come to mind) that would benefit from having a variety of camouflage patterns.

It may also help to be able to readily identify your items among a group of people. I've seen lots of people using colored duct/electrical/gaffers tape on all their gear so that it doesn't get mixed up with other photographers'.

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    The idea about having them though is that they are less likely to notice you moving BEFORE you point the lens at them. Sure, it doesn't make a big difference when pointing at them, but it might make a difference to the set of birds off to the left or to the bird you are hoping won't notice you sitting there that is flying around above you. Leaving it to just the moment of taking the photo is ignoring the proposed utility of the item. – AJ Henderson Oct 7 '14 at 14:19
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Given that most of those covers are designed for Canon L lenses, which are high visibility white normally, they would have an effect in making your lens less visible when it pokes out from a hide...
But that's not because of the camo pattern, it's because it's now darker than it used to be...

For a Nikon lens (which are all black) there should never be a need to use something like that except as a vanity item.

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