I am regularly swap between a telephoto and a kit lens on my Olympus 500.

Normally I just switch over the covers and cap to the non-use lens and drop it in my bag but today it was particularly bright and cold and I began to wonder if there was a specific method to care for lenses during the swapping process?

Do you move out of direct sunlight? Ensure certain conditions are met? Etc etc.


The best method I've found for general situations is:

  1. Turn your back to the wind (if it's raining or extremely windy you should seek additional shelter).

  2. Use a neck strap so you can let go of the camera.

  3. Select the next lens, remove the back cap and pocket it (choose a clean pocket).

  4. With the camera still hanging around your neck, with your free hand, press the lens release button and twist the lens, whilst pressing the camera into your body to prevent it moving. Remove the lens fully.

  5. Mount new lens, ensure it is fully locked and let of of the camera / lens.

  6. Retrieve back cap from pocket and replace it on the newly removed lens, and put the lens away.


  • In normal conditions don't worry too much about changing lenses and dust, they're designed to be changed as often as you want.

  • With practice it gets more fluid.

  • After a while you'll find you can save time (and dust) by not pocketing the back cap, but keeping it in the hand you're holding the new lens with.

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    That's fine as long as your pocket VERY clean, and isnt full of lint and bits of string... Otherwise you'll be slowly filling your lens (and camera) with dust. – Digital Lightcraft Jan 22 '15 at 10:00

I think the best way to swap lenses is as infrequently as possible. If you can plan a shoot so that you only use each lens once, you minimise the risk of dust getting into the camera on the sensor, or into the barrel of the lens.

It is a good idea to avoid bright sunlight, as you suggest. Most DSLRs have a mirror and shutter to protect the sensor but some mirrorless cameras don't use a physical shutter (I think!) so protecting the sensor in this way is a good idea.

It's also wise to avoid wind and moisture, so stand with your body in the way of any wind and cover the lens and camera with a waterproof surface if it's raining. The more you change lenses, the better you'll become at doing it quickly, but make sure you always check a lens is securely attached to the camera body before releasing it! If you can keep the camera strapped to your body that removes an additional risk factor (that of dropping the camera).

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    It really depends on what your priorities are, but dust will happen. In my opinion you're better off having a cleaning strategy, and then change lenses as often as you need to get the shot, rather than trying to minimise how often you change lenses. – Matt Grum Jan 21 '15 at 15:48
  • @MattGrum There's a difference between dust and dust though. Windy sandy beaches come to mind. Silica sand can scratch glass. – Szabolcs Jan 21 '15 at 16:15
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    @Szabolcs There's a difference between dust and sand, for sure, having had a lens mechanism ruined by a single trip to the beach my advice in that area would be "don't take your camera to the beach!" But if you really want to do so then you'd be well advised to change lenses in complete isolation, in your car, or inside a bag at the very least. – Matt Grum Jan 21 '15 at 16:20
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    I strongly disagree! I didn't buy an interchangeable lens camera to plan a shoot around lens changes due to such minor concerns. – dpollitt Jan 23 '15 at 3:38
  • Obviously I don't think you should sacrifice aspects of the shoot for the sake of changing the lens a bit less often; however as someone with ten thumbs now and then, the less I change lenses, the less risk there is of me dropping something! Also it takes time, and if time is not something you have on a shoot, then it does make sense to, say, get all the wide shots out of the way before switching lenses. Every shoot is different, of course, but since the question was about mitigating risk, this is how I do it. YMMV of course. – NickM Jan 23 '15 at 8:04

There are several things to do:

  1. Minimize the time the camera is open without lens attached. This is the time dust can get in. This means getting the new lens ready lying where you can quickly grab it, with its back cap removed. Also make sure there is a good place to put the old lens down with one hand.

  2. Keep the camera pointed down for the entire (hopefully brief) time that it is open. Dust blows around, but things are still more likely to fall in from above. This usually ties up one hand, hence point #1 so that putting down the old lens and picking up the new can be done quickly with the other hand.

  3. If outdoors, use your body of other convenient obstacle to shield the camera from direct sun and wind as much as possible while it is open.

  4. Make sure the camera is off before changing lenses. Modern lenses have sophisticated electronics in them (often actually a small computer). This communicates with the camera body via electrical contacts. These could make unintended connections while the lens is being removed and installed. The camera manufacturer probably built in some protection against this, but its best not to rely on it. Check the owners manual of your camera, and you will probably find where it tells you to turn off the camera before changing lenses. The manual for my Nikon definitely says this. They are probably in part covering their butt, but we can only guess at the reasons. Personally, I don't want to test how far out of spec I can abuse expensive equipment.

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    With regards to 4, there are scores of people, myself included who have been changing lenses with the camera on for decades. I have yet to hear of a single case of this resulting in any damage, if there was a risk there would surely be at least one case. – Matt Grum Jan 21 '15 at 15:36
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    With regards to 1., I would undo but not remove the back cap, instead swapping the cap onto the removed lens in one motion. – Chris H Jan 21 '15 at 15:51
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    @ChrisH I've always done the method of getting the new lens on immediately after the old one comes off, on the basis that it's easier to brush dust of the rear element than it is to remove it from the camera body. Either method is acceptable though. – Matt Grum Jan 21 '15 at 15:55
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    We have a question specifically about that: Is it dangerous to do a lens change with power on? – mattdm Jan 21 '15 at 16:19
  • @MattGrum I've always reckoned that keeping the camera face down protects it quite well - that and the fact that I tend to save on the body and spend on the lenses. – Chris H Jan 21 '15 at 21:08

Is there a correct way to change a lens? No.

After all, as long as the unwanted lens gets removed and the wanted lens attached, you have succeeded.

There certainly are practical steps you can take to minimize environmental concerns, increase speed, and prevent dropping your equipment. Those steps have already been covered by other answers so I won't cover them here.

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