Advice for a scratch on lens

The unthinkable has happened and I have a scratch on my XF16-80mm Fujinon lens - my most used lens! It’s the first time I have ever damaged a lens surface and I have no idea how it happened. It looks a bit more like an impact chip rather than a scratch, as if I have got too close to a pointy rock and bashed it. But I don’t recall anything like this happening.

Anyway, this is a $1000 lens where I live and I’m wondering what to do. Can this kind of thing even be repaired? Any advice is welcome!

People often fill scratches with black paint. The amount of light you lose is negligible. Have never done this, though.

Flickr: Flickr: Discussing Repairing scratched lens with black marker in I Shoot Film

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If it’s useful, ’ve heard that damage to the front element may not affect image quality as much as might be feared but obviously you’d have to test that out

Yes, that’s what I’m wondering. I guess I need to take a bunch of test shots and see how noticeable it is. I doubt it’s highly noticeable because I may have been shooting with it for a while without noticing.

I had a reply from Fujifilm Canada asking me to send it for evaluation. They then give you an estimate for repair cost. But I have no idea how much this would be and whether it would be worth it when taking into account shipping costs there and back. If it’s $500-600 in total, I could probably find a used one or a new Sigma/Tamron equivalent for a similar amount. I do like my Fuji lenses though.

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Interesting. I would have never thought to try this. Thanks.

First find out if it is actually a problem.

I have a 1/4-inch scratch on my Tamron 70-180/2.8 front element. Fairly humble as lenses go, but still the most expensive that I own. It was a shock to find it there: I too have no idea how it happened. I don’t think I ever scratched a lens before.

It is close to the edge, and, in practice, I’ve forgotten about it. I’m sure there must be a potential light angle where it would flare, but I’ve not seen it.

I have no doubt that I reduced its resale value. Hopefully that is not ever going to matter anyway.

Take your lens out and put it through its paces. I suspect you won’t see any difference. Hoping I’m right!

Afterthought: definitely don’t mess with “fixes” unless you find you need them. Always a possibility of making things worse.


FWIW, dropped my camera and snapped the bayonet off the pana-leica m4/3 lens that was on it. I took it to a local repair shop and they had a look but said the part they needed was only available to Panasonic’s authorised repairer in the uk. I sent it off expecting some horrendous cost but it wasn’t as bad as I feared.

Thanks. I suspect this will be the case. It still bothers me because I pride myself on taking care of my lenses, and as you said, it does reduce its resale value. But maybe I will learn to forget about it.

I wish I knew a ballpark figure before sending it off because it might cost $100 just on shipping to the other side of Canada and back. From what little research I did online, it sounds like repairs have become quite expensive and often cost prohibitive. But I don’t know if the repair I need would be that costly. Maybe they could even buff it out without replacing the front element.

This is the scratch:

Annoyingly in the centre rather than at the edge, but not very big.

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I think it is excellent advice to test the lens and see if the chip has any effect. If it does, one possibility would be to look for a cheap defective lens of the same model with an undamaged front element. The front element would be easy to replace using a lens spanner.
I have an old Soviet lens where there was a little fungus on the inside of the front element. I bought a cheap, Chinese made, lens spanner which worked beautifully and I was surprised how easy it was to remove and replace the glass. However, I would be very hesitant to go any deeper into a lens.


A lot of the time scratches, fungus etc… make no noticeable difference at all so hopefully it will be alright.

Thanks. That would make me nervous, but if I ever did find a cheap defective lens of the same type, might be worth buying and trying one day.

I think it’ll be fine if it doesn’t show in pictures. Try to take a few like in the post bellow, shooting into a backlit subject and stopped down.


Just in case anyone is interested, I did a few tests against a white computer screen to see how noticeable the scratch is.
At 80mm, I can hardly notice anything.
At 50mm, I can start to see a dark smudge when stopped down to f16, but it’s barely noticeable.
At 16mm, it’s a faint dark smudge at f8 and an obvious smudge at f16. By f22, it’s quite distinct.

f22 at 16mm:

I rarely stop down to f22, so the issue at that f-stop doesn’t bother me too much, but the fact that I can see a smudge at f8 at 16mm bothers me. That’s a common focal length and aperture for my landscape shots. It’s certainly still usable and won’t be very noticeable most of the time, but I’ll probably look at a repair at some stage. I just wish I knew a max cost before shipping it off!


Have you considered contacting the manufacturer?
Or maybe look for professional repair facility in your area?

I would try at least one (or both) of these before resorting to DIY, replacing the lens or simply live with it.

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Yes, they just said to ship it to them to get a cost for repair. I might do it, but I was hoping to get a ballpark figure to avoid shipping it and finding out it’s too expensive to be worth it.

This is encouraging to me.

Once I read about a photographer who was taking a picture of an angle grinding job and a metal fragment ended up in the lens (about 2k worth). The answer from Canon was no way for repair.

I was using a lens hood all the time to avoid accidental damage. Recently (because I bought a new lens) I decided to add a UV filter (as a protector).

I do hope the manufacturer will be able to repair at a reasonable cost for you.

I have the same lens but honestly I kinda wish I hadn’t bothered, since I also have better Fuji prime lenses that cover most of the same focal lengths, so my 16-80 usually stays at home. TBH I only bought it because it was quite a bit cheaper when bought with the camera. If you’re thinking of replacing it, it’s worth taking a look at which focal lengths you use the most and considering primes instead.

I think the obvious solution is for us to swap our lenses :slight_smile:
I too bought it bundled with the camera so it was like getting it for cheaper. What I particularly love about it is the focal range. It’s very useful as a walkabout lens when I’m on holiday. 16mm is wide enough for landscapes and urban photography, and 80mm is fairly good for short telephoto work. Telephoto shots are actually my preferred style, and I also have the 70-300mm, which might be my favourite lens.

You bring up a constant question I’m asking myself about primes and zooms. I do love primes and with my old camera, my 60mm prime (APS-C) just lived on my DSLR for almost everything I shot, even though it wasn’t suited to certain shots like wide vistas. I got round it by shooting panos and stitching them together. The problem I have with primes is that I’m a bit of a jack-of-all-trades photographer and like to use a range of focal lengths when I’m out and about. I would probably want to carry at least 3 primes with me to cover everything I want to do. That’s not too high a number, but I do find changing lenses to be a bit of a pain, especially when you suddenly see some wildlife and you’ve got your 12mm on!

Zooms are just so convenient, and I have found Fuji zooms and the latest ones coming out to be excellent quality. What I do sometimes miss though is the wider apertures that come with primes. I am constantly planning my next lens (I don’t have GAS, but I do enjoy trying out new gear), and this scratch has raised the question of whether I want to replace it with primes or a new zoom. So, that’s a silver lining!

Which primes do you have @elstoc and what’s your preferred genre?

Yeah I probably will use it more when I go on holidays with others. It’s much easier to take a quick shot with a zoom lens so I can still enjoy my photography without annoying other people (“please wait there while I change lenses, now wait a bit longer while I zoom with my feet”).

Me too. If I’m having a photography day out by myself, I will generally take a walk around my locality and take shots of whatever I spot during my walk. I prefer things with strong lines/shapes so tend to stick to urban photography, though I do occasionally go out specifically to photograph wildlife.

I find that with a prime lens there are fewer composition choices so I can get into more of a zen-like mode with my photography and better judge how to position myself before I bring the camera to my face. My camera generally has either the 35mm F2 or 23mm F2 lens on it (I prefer the 35) and I will do the vast majority of my photography with one of these. I usually also take the 16mm F2.8 and 50mm F2 in a very small belt bag but these only get used for a few shots where I can’t zoom with my feet enough. In retrospect, the 50mm is probably the least useful of these lenses but they are all excellent.

For wildlife I have the 70-300mm zoom and the 1.4x extender, and then the 16-80 is probably all I will take with me if/when I go on holiday.

This is always a downside of primes but I’m fine to accept I will miss some shots – I tend to just spot the shot and then dismiss it as not possible, and immediately move on.

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Yep, constant issue when I’m out with my family. They don’t want to wait while I get into my photography, so I have to take quicker snapshots (quickly seeing the shot is actually quite a useful skill I’ve developed).

I’m actually drawn to this in nature, which is why I like telephoto lenses for landscape work. I love finding layers and geometry in nature, and longer focal lengths are great for picking these out. I’d love to try Fuji’s 200mm F2 but I need to sell a kidney before I can get that one.

I’ve considered the extender. Do you find it useful? Is the extra reach worth it while losing a stop or so?

That’s far too rational and reasonable. Missing a small brown bird in the hedgerow can lead to immeasurable disappointment and a ruined day, but I’m working on that :slight_smile:

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