"How Front Element Scratches Affect Your Images"

William Lewis

Eau Claire, Wisconsin
William Lewis
I've always believed this based on my own experience with some fairly scruffy lenses over the years.

From Lens Rentals:

We have a lot of gear in our inventory, which means we also have a lot of broken gear in the middle of repairs. When it comes to lenses, one thing we see a lot in the repair department is front element scratches. And that makes sense, when a lens is mounted, it’s the single piece of glass exposed to the world; and to accidents.

And so it seemed like it was time we relooked at a topic we discussed years ago on this blog, and talked about how front element scratches can affect your images, and image quality. After all, there is an entire industry trying to sell you UV filters, lens hoods, and other tools to help prevent scratches to the front element of your lens. So we decided to bug our repair department, and pull a few lenses with some front element scratches, to see how they compare to pristine variants.

How Front Element Scratches Affect Your Images

TL;DR? Not much.

Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer puts it:
these guys are among the few who can show you. If you want to test the general principle yourself—without scratching your lens!—tear off a bit of a Post-It about the size of a small pea and stick it to the front of your lens. Compare the result to a frame shot without it. Interesting, no?
Photo News


Many of the Roger Cicala articles on the Lens Rental's blog (founded the company) were classic. Look through his entries on history some time. Really fascinating stuff at times. It looks like the Munger article which I'd also seen predated Roger. I suppose there are others who have tried it.