Camera caps for today's sophisticated digital SLRs are designed exactly as they were decades ago. They are clumsy to put on or off, can scratch the lens coating if they touch it, and are easily lost.

Soon after I bought my new Canon EOS I lost the little black lens cap, and decided to make my own. I am very happy with it, even though it looks as if it was made as a kindergarten crafts project. It is soft where it might touch the lens, fits the lens barrel snugly just tightly enough to allow quick opening and closing, and provides excellent protection. It also makes for an interesting conversation piece. People look at it, smile knowingly and ask "did you lose your lens cap?".

Here is how you can make one. It takes about 30 minutes of work, but waiting for the glue to set could take hours.

1- An important first step is to cover the camera entirely with a vinyl or other plastic sheet - make sure the lens area is completely protected. Tape the sheet tightly around the lens barrel. 2. Center a large lens-cleaning cloth over the lens surface and tuck the edges to fit roughly around the barrel. Hold it in place by hand while you apply white carpenter's glue, or any similar glue to the folds. In a few minutes the cloth can be made to take the shape of the barrel. Do not attempt to trim the cloth at this stage, nor worry about excess glue.

3-Cut a round piece of a firm cardboard (indicated by the dashed circle) and glue it on top of the cloth to further protect the lens area.

4- Use a piece of strong paper or another cloth to cover the lens and barrel areas as shown, and make up the outside surface of the cap. Glue it in place as you did in step 2. Wait until the glue is completely dry; this may require several hours.

4- Remove the cap from the camera, and make sure that it is completely dry inside and out. Trim the edges and if you wish make a small hole for a string to attach the cap to camera. A coat of house paint or spray will make the cap waterproof. Be careful when removing the vinyl sheet that no wet glue or paint ever touches the camera or lens.