However, you might want to be a little less obtrusive if only to the wildlife - so what options do we have?
Cheapest option has got to be tape - I have seen black gaffer tape all over lenses, or maybe you might prefer some camo tape. Make sure that if you go this route you think about how you are going to remove any sticky residue. However, this simple and cost effective solution does work. I know Dave used it for many years on his Canon 500F4 IS L, and that it did the job and was as good as new when removed and cleaned up.
I opted for the neoprene LensCoat for my 500 when I got it a couple of years back. If you are in the UK, you can get them from Warehouseexpress.com, there is usually a link in the Google ads on the blog.
As you can see from the image, these are made up of a number of elements, that are a bit a tight squeeze to get on, and they do leave gaps usually at the junctions of the moving parts. Additionally, you get a clear window over the controls so you can see what you are adjusting easily - you will note that my distance limiter was set to 4.5 - 10 m, as I had been trying to get some images around the reflection pool in my garden.
Below the 500 is my 300f2.8 with the Wildlifewatchingsupplies version.
As you can see these sections butt up to each other and there is no clear panel, which is a bit more of a pain, but the benefit is that this system is much cheaper for UK buyers certainly as it is UK made. It makes it a little stiffer to swivel the lens on the mount when going from landscape to portrait mode, but I think part of that problem is a different design of mount as well.
Now my main reason for buying these covers is simply to protect the lens from knocks, bumps and scrapes, particularly when operating from hides and the car (and protect the car paintwork too). The Lenscoat is less good at dust and weather protection due to the gaps, but that is where the next system comes in.
Again at exceptionally good value for money from Wildlifewatching supplies are the lens and body covers. The image to the left shows the lens cap, main lens cover and body cover. These are the double sided versions to give some decent weather protection. I use these when there is rain, dust or spray about. The lens hoods are particularly good, as I quickly realised that I was going to lose the Canon plastic clunky cover, and at that price it was something that I did not want to do. These hoods are in the early teens of pounds, so not the end of the world when I lose it - and I have already once.
Finally, the best protection is to keep it in your bag when moving from location to location. Dave has already shared how he does it in this blog. In the next part of the Long Lens series, I will share details of my custom made '500 with lens hood fitted the right way round, plus body, ready to shoot straight out of the bag' bag