I have been reading some interesting stuff lately about how today’s lenses with modern materials are harder and tougher than the ones made 10 or 20 years ago. One article about lens scratches actually challenged the reader to stick a small corner of a post-it note to the lens and observe the effect it has on your photos. Challenge accepted.
Here is my lens (Canon 24-70mm f2.8). I don’t use UV filters to “protect” the lens except in extreme situations. Who wants to buy a big expensive lens and stick a basically clear filter over the front of it anyway? UV filters won’t enhance your image accept in extreme cases such as high elevations on very clear days where excessive UV light is present. Your image sensor already has a built-in UV filter for normal situations. I am not too worried about the adhesive of a post-it which is not that strong and will surely come off easily with some lens cleaner and a swab. It was time to clean my lens anyway and the post-it will only be on there for 15 minutes or less.
Keep in mind this post-it is BIG. If you had a scratch this size on your lens you’d be freaking out right?? Plus a scratch on glass is presumably translucent, not totally blocking light like a post-it.
The flower shot at the top was made with the big ‘ol post-it stuck to the lens. Same with the bunny below.
The bunny was shot at 70mm, f8. Now, here is where I get into trouble. I had to really work hard to get this one below—
Had I put my camera in automatic mode and shot normal “every day” stuff, it may have taken me 1000 photos to get the “scratch” to show up.
I shot a bunch more with the post-it. The “scratch” was evident only beyond an aperture f11, and only at the shorter focal lengths like 24mm (zoomed out, as opposed to zoomed in). Shooting at 24mm. At 57mm, f7.1, for example, I could not detect the slightest hint of the post-it even when viewing my file at 100% magnification in Photoshop. I experienced the same result at 24mm, f2.8 (zoomed out and wide open).
One side note: You’ll notice some blotches in the top right of the frame in the sky. Those are caused by dust on the image sensor. Honestly, I seldom clean my sensor because it is hard to get these to show up in most every day situations as well. Dust shows up when shooting very small apertures like f11 and beyond, and its easy to fix in Photoshop. It is easier than cleaning a sensor in my view.
The moral of the story- stop worrying about tiny scratches on your lens!! If you shoot every day auto-mode stuff for the most part, or even some advanced portrait and wedding type stuff, you’re not likely to harm your photos AT ALL. If you’re a landscape photographer with experience, you probably find yourself zoomed out to the wide side of your lens and stopping down to small apertures manually quite often and you have a little more cause for concern.
If you’re shooting in a sand storm, it will not hurt to throw a UV filter on your lens just in case. For the most part, I do not advocate protective filters.
Thanks for looking! If you enjoy the articles, please post a link to this blog on your website, Facebook or whatever and help support it.