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Pro Tip: How to Quick-Change an SLR lens

Professional photographers see you amateurs out there, frequently shooting right along side of us while we are on assignment.

You're right there at events like festivals, fireworks displays and high school football games. A few of you even seem to know how to BS your way onto the sidelines next to us a pro football games. (How do you do that, anyway?)

We see you watching us. What you might not know is that we are also watching you. While we sometimes get P.O.'d when you crowd our shooting angles, we are frequently jealous of how well you are equipped.

A couple of things we might not be so jealous of: Your shooting and equipment skills.

Which is why we think it is particularly entertaining to watch you do something like try to change lenses quickly when a fleeting moment is slipping by and you are caught with the wrong glass on your camera.

That said, here is how to quickly swap a lens and not look like Barney Fife going ballistic as he tries to wrestle his gun out of his holster on The Andy Griffith Show.

The following steps should (eventually) be performed in one smooth, fast motion. I am using Nikon as an example, but everything is the same for Canon. The twist direction is simply reversed.

1) Hold your camera in your left hand as shown in the upper left part of the top photo. Approach the lens as shown with your right hand open and the right forefinger extended a little.

2) As seen in upper right, when you close your hand around the lens, depress the lens release button with the left side of your right forefinger.

3) Moving onto lower left, rotate the lens clockwise (for Nikon, reverse for Canon) and let the forefinger slide along the still-depressed release button.

4) Finally, as seen at lower right, the lens slides smoothly off of the camera and leaves with your right hand.

Mounting the lens is the reverse action - just as smooth - except the lens itself depresses the lens release as it is pushed onto the camera before rotating into final position.

With about a minute of practice, you should able to go from not touching the lens to having the lens off in your hand in about a quarter of a second.

Don't believe me? Try it.

Learn it like they do in the Army Rangers - start slow and smooth at first and get the muscle memory down.

Like the mantra goes: "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast."

You'll soon be able to perform this maneuver while keeping your eyes on your subject instead of watching yourself fiddle with your camera. And that's important when your are seeing a good moment come together.

Try it - you'll be surprised at how easy it is.


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