This is an updated version of an article originally about the FZ18, posted here.
The goal of the project was find a way to protect the camera's lens from dust, dirt, and bumps. Since then, Panasonic has released new models in this series, and a simpler answer (no glue involved) has been found for this problem.
The good news is that it works with the FZ18, the FZ28, and the FZ35/38.
The original models of the FZ series (I still have my FZ5) had a shorter zoom range, reaching only a modest 35mm equivalent focal length at the widest. They came with a barrel-like lens adapter that covered the lens, even at full zoom. It served as a lens hood, filter holder, and protected the lens when it was extended.
The situation is much different on the newer models of the FZ series. The FZ18 upped the ante with an 18X zoom range, going to a 28mm equivalent at the wide angle end.
So there I was, with my brand new DMC-FZ18, all ready to go. I turn the camera on and get a nasty message in the viewfinder. REMOVE LENS CAP AND PRESS ANY BUTTON. Whoa! Can't turn the camera on with the lens cap attached? I follow orders and the camera is on, but the lens protrudes from the camera, looking rather exposed to the hard knocks of the real world. And when the lens is at full telephoto, it sticks way out.
Fast forward through two new models and guess what. The DMC-FZ35 has exactly the same problem.
Here are the requirements for this quest:
1. Allow the camera to be turned on with the lens cap attached.
2. Allow the use of standard filters.
3. Act as a sunshade.
4. Protect the extended part of the lens from impact.
5. No vignetting at 28mm equivalent focal length.
6. Assembled from available components.
The real problem is that the front thread where the adapter ring fits has a non-standard thread size -- about 55.8mm. I tried adding a 55 to 58mm step-up ring and it fell out.
For the FZ18, the solution involved gluing a 55mm step-up ring into the plastic adaptor ring that comes with the camera. Messy, but it works. This early solution involved a total of four adaptor tings. Too complex, but you go with what you have.
As the years passed, I kept my eyes open for another solution to this problem. For a short time, a company made a 55.8mm step-up ring, but they're not available anymore. This is what I used on my FZ28
While searching the net, I finally found an adaptor ring from a company called Raynox. The ring is the Raynox RT5855W. It's meant to be used with their add-on lenses, but it's also just right for my use. And it's much longer, which cuts the number of rings from four to three, greatly simplifying things.
You can get this ring, and the other parts as well, from amazon.com, adorama.com, or bhphoto.com.
Here's the final setup:
1. Raynox RT5855W adaptor.
2. Step-up ring from 58mm to 62mm.
3. Step-up ring from 62mm to 67mm
4. Lens cap, 67mm. I bought a genuine Nikon lens cap. It's very classy and much cheaper than a Nikon camera
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