14-24 lens scratches, does it affect image?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jaymichaels, Feb 18, 2018.

  1. I'm thinking about buying a 14-24 f2.8 Nikon. it has 2 small scratch marks on the front element. It's a great buy for the price. I have read that small scratches on the front element of any lens has no to a minimal effect om image quality. I have seen pitcures take thru shattered front elements or filters that look ok. If a completely sharted lens can create a decent image, just how much will these affect the quality of photos from this lens 14-24 scratch.jpg
  2. It will show up as lower contrast. It might only be detectable in a lab. Test it If it looks good to you, then go for it.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Of course the price is rather low, since that particular lens is (slightly) damaged.

    If the scratch were on the rear element, it may serious affect image quality. Those small damages in front will probably have no effect on the final image under most situations. However, there maybe some effect if you shoot into a light source.

    The thing is that it cuts both ways. If you try to sell this lens in the future, it will also affect your resale value; it may also be very difficult to sell.

    This is partly why I rarely use my 14-24mm/f2.8 AF-S since I bought it 10 years ago. For me it is too wide and not nearly as practical as my 18-35mm AF-S zoom. I am also concerned about damaging it during travel and hiking. It can be a great lens to use indoors in tight corners.

    My other idea is that if you are rough on your lenses, such that you may put more dings on this lens, you might as well save money to start with one with minor issues.
  4. Shoot against the light when testing it. Such marks may render the lens more prone to flair. Make sure the zoom action is smooth as it has taken a few hits.

    Regarding price, Shun has a good point about its resale value.I will only add that you should also consider the trade-in value. It may well be that many dealers will not even make an offer for it, which is a signal of how badly even minor damage (that may not even show in the photos) hurts resale value. The seller may have failed to trade it in. If so, perhaps you can lower the price even more (granted you cannot detect the damage in the photos).
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  5. I'd avoid it.

    Keep in mind that with ultra wide angles, DOF is deep enough that at small apertures these sort of scratches on the front element can start to present a BIG problem.

    I'm absolutely nuts about my 14-24, but I'm also very protective of the front element for this reason.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  6. Valid points above, I wouldn't buy it as an investment but if you can run some test shots on it and it looks good it might be worthwhile if the price is good. If not or if the seller won't let you try it (assuming the seller is local) then walk away.

    Rick H.
  7. That's why I bought and sold it quickly. Nice lens but klutzy, not used enough in real life to justify its keep, and not worth the hassle.
  8. I guess it depends on your photography and preferences.

    I've been out many days where I only took this lens and a 50mm...and used the 14-24 most of the time. I've also been in situations where it would have been a seldom used boat anchor in my bag.

    When I use it, though, it's better and lighter than hauling a 14mm, 18mm, 20mm, and 24mm(albeit I still want the 14mm prime...even though it's largely redundant for me, it's still a shade wider, is easier to filter, and overall is more "film friendly").
    Mary Doo likes this.
  9. Understand. I am a zoom-lens fan. That's probably why.
  10. Years ago I had an 18 mm lens with a slight (<1/16 “) scratch on the front element. An old pro that I knew then carefully filled the scratch with india ink, saying that it would lessen diffraction. Has any one heard of this?
  11. From practical experience-I use newspaper to clean my car windshield-especially on my MG right before a show. This is a time-honored tradition, and the idea is that that the ink from the newspaper will rub off and fill in any microscopic scratches. Of course, most windshields have LOTS of them. It always seems that the windshield(or should I say wind screen?) is a lot clearer and less "glittery" after I do this.

    It would seem to be the same principle.
  12. SCL


    Filling light scratches with dark ink is a well known old practice, and, depending on the severity of the scratch, its location, and shooting aperture, it can be very effective.
  13. Here's a YouTube video on how to treat a scratch (link). Not sure if it works but probably worth trying.

    I don't think a scratch in the front element affects an image in most situations, though I prefer not to use a scratched lens personally - much of the reason, I am sure, is psychological. I have not tested a scratch at the back element though.

    What not to do: I once scratched an expensive lens by leaving the camera (without a lens cap) inside my handbag along with other handbag things. Now I make sure this does not happen again. I also scratched a Canon PowerShot G11, also by leaving it inside my handbag - I have no idea how the scratch happened because the lens-lids(?) are supposed to auto-closes when the camera is turned off.
  14. Those spots don't look like scratches to me, more like coating damage.

    If it's only a couple of tiny patches where the coating has 'come adrift' then it'll make absolutely no difference to the image quality, apart from an almost immeasurable drop in brightness and contrast.

    OTOH, true scratches on the front element of a wideangle can be very bad news. I have an Ai-s 20mm f/2.8 Nikkor that's been rendered practically unuseable by a small scuffed patch in the centre of the front element. It results in a soft-focus area in the middle of the image that gets softer as the lens is stopped down.

    I think the only way to tell if the lens is affected is to test it. Our remote opinions don't really count for much.
  15. Just as another data point, I found myself shooting vaguely towards the sun recently with my 70-200 (the cormorants from Nikon Wednesday a couple of weeks back) and was surprised just how low-contrast the resulting image was. I took a look at the filter I had over the front element, thinking I might have got fingerprints on it. (I put the hood on before I took the lens cap off, so I didn't really see it when I was getting ready.)

    It turns out that the problem was my habit of putting the lens cap in my pocket... with tissues. Which had resulted in a load of white tissue dust all over the filter when the lens cap was last reattached. A quick huff on the front and the contrast was vastly improved. Oops.

    Scratches are a little harder to fix, although I do like the ink idea. Something like the 14-24 is particularly vulnerable, obviously - fortunately I think the worst I've done to mine is knock a small chunk off its hood and cover it in Niagara water (which required Nikon to clean it). At least there's the impending Sigma as a cheaper replacement. For what it's worth, I always zoom mine to 24mm before putting it away - that retracts both the front and rear elements, making them less at risk of scratches.
  16. I knew a friend who used the solvent based stuff used to fill in scratches on movie film. It's a film-stock scratch-filler, rather than an emulsion filler, so guess it would fill the coating loss OK.

    ASAIK modern lens coating are mineral based, so therefore organic-solvent proof. Someone else can help out here!!
  17. I recently bought, very cheap, a couple of multicoated UV filters that were absolutely filthy with dust and fingerprints. Past experience has shown me that the easiest way to clean such filters is to use the 'contact lens cleaning' technique of gently rubbing dishwashing liquid and water over the surface with a thumb and finger - then washing the detergent off with running water.

    (This lengthy anecdote is going somewhere - honest)

    To cut a long story short. I got interrupted before cleaning the tap water off one of the filters. Where the water droplets had dried there were spots that looked exactly like coating damage. The spots just wouldn't clean away, even with an alcohol soaked lens tissue. The only thing that shifted the silvery-looking spots was a repeat detergent cleaning and drying. Those filters look good as new now BTW.

    Anyway, point is that those silvery spots might not even be permanent 'damage'. They might be dried on rainwater spots or some such. It might be worth a gentle swab with water and detergent on a lens tissue. Only a damp lens tissue mind. I'm not advocating washing the lens under a running tap! Although you can get away with that on a filter.
  18. Those marks are into the glass! They will affect the image at small apertures, in some situations where big uniform sky is present. But, you will get an ok picture 50% of the time. And, you can edit the flaws in picture editing software. I would negotiate the price downward as much as possible, because resale value is severely "impacted", so to speak.
  19. "Those marks are into the glass!"

    - And you can tell that from the low-res posted picture how?

    I've seen a lot of - too many! - scratched lenses in my time, and that looks much more like harmless coating damage.

    Besides, according to youtube you can just rub out lens scratches with sandpaper, toothpaste and alcohol. Electric drill and Q-tips optional.:rolleyes:

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