As an avid coffee drinker and photographer, it only natural that I was attracted to all the new lens mugs floating around. Ever since Canon released their own 70-200 f/4L IS lens mug, they’ve been a hot topic and the market has been flooded with copies and new variations. Thus, I decided to round them up and test them out. After a solid month of drinking a cup of coffee per day, using each of the mugs equally, it’s time for a little comparative review.
Let’s start with the Starbucks mug that I bought about two years ago. It’s the standard from which I will judge all the others. Firstly, this mug was the most expensive of those compared at about $15, but upon a discount of several dollars, I decided to go for it. One of the most attractive things about this mug is that you can place a picture of your choice inside. As you can see, I chose a photo of the sunset shot from an airplane. Unfortunately, my friend washed the cup in the dishwasher without taking the photo out, and now it is virtually glued stuck to the glass, and smeared all over. Nonetheless, people still comment favorably. Another good thing about this mug is the cap: it has a tabbed drinking hole, so that you don’t have to remove the cap. In effect, this makes the beverage last longer, and keeps the contents inside warmer for longer. The only downside is that your nose tends to press against the lid when you drink, sometimes leaving you with a stained nose. Just a few weeks ago, I dropped my mug and the outer layer suffered a crack. However, it has continued to function flawlessly. This mug has set a precedent, and one that I think is hard to beat.
Canon 70-200 f/4L Lens Mug
The Canon 70-200 f/4L mug is the tallest one in this comparison. It also sticks out, having the signature off-white color that Canon L lenses are known for. It’s a fairly realistic looking “lens”, but there are a few inconsistencies in the print. But from a distance, you would easily be fooled. As far as operation goes, this mug functions smoothly. The cap is the only one boasting some girth, being several centimeters thick. This surely helps keep your beverage warm. It also features a rubber ring to prevent leakage, which I never had a problem with. The rubber rings on the outside are pleasantly soft and grippy. The cap on the bottom of the lens is removable, but for what reason I’m not quite so sure. Overall, this lens mug looks good, and works well, so you can’t go wrong here.
Update: After a few months of usage, I’ve found that each time I open the lens cap after shaking the mug (using the instant coffee below) it splatters out from the opening. Perhaps not the tightest of seals. In addition, the
Nikon 24-70 2.8G Lens Mug
The Nikon 24-70 2.8G is currently the only Nikon lens mug currently on the market, and it’s not a bad one either. Although it holds the same amount of liquid contents as the Starbucks and Canon 70-200 f/4L, it is significantly shorter, as you can see in the picture at the top of the page. It’s cap is also a touch easier to spin off and on, and I had virtually no problems with leakage. As far as looks go, I’d say this is perhaps the most realistic looking “lens” of the three tested. Sure, it doesn’t stack up to the real lens, but any layman would easily be fooled. The bottom cap of the mug is a bit narrow, so you’ll want to be careful of knocking it over. Another slight problem, I found that when I left the lens cap on overnight without washing the cup, there was some mold inside. I’ve never had this problem with my Starbucks mug; perhaps the quality of the stainless steel innards are not up to par.
Update: After a few months of usage the rubber ring inside the lens cap has come loose, thus causing coffee to leak each time I shake the mug (using the instant coffee seen below) It turns out this lens is not as weather proof as stated by Nikon! Furthermore, the focus ring has become loose, but isn’t exactly falling off.
Canon 24-105 f/4L Lens Mug
The Canon 24-105 f/4L lens mug is obviously the smallest of all those tested. At 350ml, it’s also probably the closest to a normal size coffee mug used by the masses at home. It has a very good build quality, looks great, and is probably a touch more realistic looking than the 70-200L. However, I have one major gripe with this mug: the cap (a mock lens hood) is impossibly hard to screw off and on. And for this reason, I wouldn’t recommend this mug at all, as it’s just a hassle to use, so I’ll cut this review short here. The same can be said for this one, which does not have a hood. To be fair, there is another variation on the market (with a drinking hole and a higher price tag of $17, but I can’t vouch for that one.)
In conclusion, I don’t think I’d replace my Starbucks mug with either of these mugs for the long term. But if I wanted to impress or fool people, then I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Canon 70-200 f/4L or the Nikon 24-70 2.8G lens mugs. They work well enough, look good, and at $11.99 a piece don’t cost a fortune either. If you like coffee and photography, you’ll love either one. The only thing left to help you choose is…do you shoot Nikon or Canon?
Other Lens Mug Reviews
The Digital Picture – probably the best known and funniest of all reviews on the net. The speaks of it as an actua lens, using real photography terms.
Tech Patio – reviews a zoomable Nikon 24-70 2.8G
Digital Photography School – not really a review, but a lot of discussion going on here.
About the author: Jesse Warren is a Malaysian White Coffee drinking photographer in Shenzhen, China, where he also works for Aputure.