How to Quickly Change a Digital SLR Camera Lens

or the past few years, I've been asked how I quickly swap the lenses on my camera. A wedding day passes so fast and I don't want to miss a moment, but I also don't want to carry two camera bodies (in addition to my gear). After a recent blog post (Why I Don't Use a Camera Strap), readers started asking how I change my camera lens.

Instead of trying to explain how, here's a video how I do it...

A few things to note:
1. While shooting, I don't keep lens caps on. The lenses are not covered while I'm working, but they're kept securely in my my sidebag.
2. Each lens swap takes about six seconds.
3. At the end of the wedding, all caps are placed on the lenses and they are transferred from my sidebag/satchel to my camera backpack.

I hope this offers insight into how I work and I look forward to hearing how fast you become swapping lenses...ooooh, I just got an idea...WHY DON'T WE START THE QUICKEST LENS CHANGER CONTEST?!?!?! Winner gets a lifetime supply of Nutella and bragging rights! Who's in?!?

For those who asked about dust falling into the sensor, I try to keep the camera tilted down a bit, but because it's happening so fast, I don't have to worry too much about it. I get my sensors professionally cleaned 2-4 times per year and I don't have issues with it :)
Comment (39)
Share on

Thank you! Your comment has been saved.
Diane - Hi Jasmine, Have you ever had one of your lenses scratch on either end or get dusty while in your bag during a session? I"m always so careful, maybe too careful :) Thanks  06.25.15 - 5:17pm
joice - is there really a contest? when does it start? where do we share the videos lol  09.23.13 - 12:53pm
Sandy - Do you have clear UV lens filters on the lens to protect them from scratches?  09.05.13 - 5:28am
Katie Jackson - Wow! You are fast! I'm gonna start practicing for the contest! LOL!  08.21.13 - 10:57am
Becca Berg - BeccaClicks Photography - Love it. I am going to have to try this!  08.20.13 - 12:58pm
Kirill - Wow, that's really quick :) Thanks for the video!  08.19.13 - 7:52am
Sindre - Haha! It is really cool (and funny), to see how you and (I'm guessing your husbond?), does this in the opposite sequence ;)   08.18.13 - 10:49am
Shumi - Wow very much helpful tips for the photo lovers like us. Thanks.  08.16.13 - 10:21pm
Nancy - how funny! i actually thought about you today as i packed for a shoot and wondered, "How does she DO that w/no camera strap??" I decided i wasn't coordinated enough to pull it off and went back to 2 cameras, 2 straps! thanks for the video = )   08.15.13 - 7:40pm
LindaNancarrow - That's grease lightening girl.. Question do you only have 2 lenses in your satchel? Or do you have more than that? I am a bit of a sad sack and bring farrrrrrrr toooooo much gear around, though trying to reduce big time!   08.15.13 - 3:41pm
Yuliya M. - I'm in! ;)  08.15.13 - 3:21pm
leah - hej Jasmine, love the sachel, but a while ago you referred to some cool camera bags that I think were made of squishy/stretchy neoprine... do you remember recommending these? still use them? do you have a link? I would like something like them. thank you!  08.15.13 - 2:20pm
Norma Skinner - Don't thing I'll be entering any competitions against you two! You aree both too fast. (Still using two bodies & different lenses.)  08.15.13 - 2:07pm
Omar Vale - Changing lenses in the out like this will eventually introduce particles into the sensor. If you do dozens of weddings a year, then you will surely be able to afford servicing of the sensor. Otherwise, I would change it at home, with the camera facing down. In any case, dust will eventually get in there either way. BTW, you guys are very fast at doing this. Thanks for posting the video.  08.15.13 - 10:48am
Kristen - I often leave my lens caps off too, but I either be sure to have a UV filter OR (if I don't want a UV filter) I put a lens hood on to protect the front glass. BUT what about that rear glass? The thought of leaving the end cap off scares me a little. I know the glass is recessed and is "harder" to scratch, but what about dust/dirt falling into that? I would imagine that sometime could potentially get on the sensor once the lens is mounted onto the camera body?   08.15.13 - 9:49am
Whitney Lane - I like how you put the lens in the crook of your arm, I'm going to have to try that :)  08.15.13 - 9:46am
Erika - Thank you for posting this! I have always been so meticulous about lens caps and handling my gear. Maybe I am just babying it way too much. I will have to start practicing quick swaps because a lifetime supply of Nutella is something I surely don't want to miss! :)  08.15.13 - 9:42am
Aleeya - nutella? I'm in.  08.15.13 - 9:40am
Allison Leonard - Do you turn the camera off to change lenses. I use to and don't anymore but it freaks me out. Never knew the rule on this.  08.15.13 - 9:25am
Sara Holleboom - Thanks for sharing! I am going to have to try this.. However I will admit it makes me nervous that I'll get some speck of dust on the lens or a fingerprint or something possibly. But it's worth a try. Thanks again!   08.15.13 - 9:03am
Jeff - Where do we submit our entry? Hahaha! Nutella all the way to the Philippines :) I'm happy I followed your No Strap Policy. I'll try your texhnique on the next shoot cause I normally find a table to put down the second lens.   08.15.13 - 8:53am
Jeff - Where do we submit our entry? Hahaha! Nutella all the way to the Philippines :) I'm happy I followed your No Strap Policy. I'll try your texhnique on the next shoot cause I normally find a table to put down the second lens.   08.15.13 - 8:53am
James Clavet - Great Idea! Life time of Nutella, I'm in!  08.15.13 - 8:36am
Kyle - Do you turn the camera off each time? The camera in the video is off.  08.15.13 - 8:33am
Leslie - I might now have the guts to not leave them on .... maybe.  08.15.13 - 8:30am
Valerie - Does it ever make you nervous to not have your lens caps on? Am I just being too worried about them by having the caps on all the time? That would certainly speed up my lens changes!  08.15.13 - 8:29am
Holley - Brilliant! I've been changing lenses for 10 years and have never thought of finding a technique to do it so quickly! Thank you!  08.15.13 - 8:29am
Claire Bunn - Nutella?! I’m in. So either end of the lens does not get damaged without the cover? I’ve always worried about dust at the connection points. This will save so much time - thank you!   08.15.13 - 8:23am
Tim Bishop - Nice technique! How about when you have to change to a 70-200 or 135?  08.15.13 - 8:22am
Shannon - BTW - the brown bag in the second part of the clip, where did you get it?  08.15.13 - 8:19am
Shannon - I'm totally in. Nutella... Yum.  08.15.13 - 8:18am
Tessa - I love that you love Nutella.   08.15.13 - 8:09am
Jesse - I'm actually very shocked that you aren't popping on the back cap on the lens that you are placing back into your bag. Understood that you are placing the lens sideways and I'm assuming there isn't anything else in there that can make contact to and potentially damage the rear element but I'd be super paranoid regardless. Clearly it has worked out well for you so who am I to judge! Just sayin...  08.15.13 - 8:09am
laura - Does it matter which way you put the lens back in your bag? Do you not worry about dust?  08.15.13 - 8:06am
Jennifer - Do you turn off the camera when you swap lenses?  08.15.13 - 8:02am
Tomas Vasko - Wow, your are pretty skillful. It looks pretty fast, but I would be scared of falling lens to ground :). In our country there is no insurance for this. Do you ever touch accidentally the lens glass? And what about dust from uncovered glass that get inside a camera to the sensor? Does this imprints or dust impact photos? - and do you carefully clean glass and sensor after every session? It seems you use some UV filter for lens protection, so I think it is easier to clean...  08.15.13 - 7:56am
Cherry - HA Omg, I don't think I'll be able to enter that contest for a while yet... Your video is lightning speed lens swap! I think you've got it down to an ART :)  08.15.13 - 7:51am
Ashley Barnes - Love the video! You missed your could have been in an old Western movie with those skills-QuickOnTheDraw Jasmine!  08.15.13 - 6:25am
Leandra - Nice, I'm going to try that!  08.15.13 - 6:06am