Photographers end up with scratches on their lenses all the time, even if they’re particularly careful with their cameras. However, this result begs the question of how to fix scratches on a digital camera lens. The best digital camera cannot overcome scratches on lenses, as lenses cannot realistically be repaired. However, there may be some workarounds to achieve good image quality without replacing the lens. If you’re having other issues with your lenses, you may want to find out how to fix lines on a digital camera.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • You will need to buff out the scratch using a compound and a microfiber cloth or Dremel.
  • You may damage the coating on the camera lens during this process.
  • Buff until you no longer see the scratch anymore, though this may take longer for deeper scratches.

Fixing Scratches on a Digital Camera Lens

Over the years, people have established methods to “fix” scratches on their cameras. However, each of these methods includes the same process of buffing out the scratches. Unfortunately, you cannot guarantee that the camera will not become more damaged using these methods. Most brands and several photographers recommend sending your camera in to be repaired when there are scratches on the lens because you could remove the coating applied at the factory by doing it yourself. Additionally, you may want to find out how to get back deleted photos on a digital camera.

Insider Tip

Check whether your lens can be repaired by an electronics or photography shop before trying to fix it yourself.

Steps to Fix Scratches on a Camera Lens

  • Tools needed:
    • Your choice of a buffer can be rubbing alcohol, a pencil eraser, toothpaste, a baking soda and water mixture, metal polish
    • Dry, lint-free microfiber cloth or Dremel with a soft-tipped polisher
    • Safety glasses (if you’re using a Dremel)
    • Lens cleaning solution
  1. Clean the lens and camera. You need to work off of a clean surface to avoid trapping dust or dirt particles on the lens elements. Ideally, you want to complete this process only with minor scratches. Deep scratches will take longer to buff out, and you increase the risk of additional damage due to dust mites.
  2. Put a small amount of your buffer on the microfiber cloth. Remember, you are working with an extremely small surface, so you won’t need as much as you would for a table. If you are using a Dremel instead of a microfiber cloth, you will need to put a small amount of the buffer on your finger and then transfer it to the lens. Do not apply rubbing alcohol directly to the lens.
  3. Rub the compound into the lens using a circular motion where the scratch is. By using a circular motion, you ensure that the entire lens is getting the same treatment. When you clean your lens you should also use a circular motion.
  4. Repeat steps two and three until you no longer see the scratch. This process can take a while, which is why some people prefer to complete it using a Dremel. As you apply rubbing alcohol or other compounds, you should see any minor scratches disappear. To check for scratches in the lens, look for places where light glares off the surface differently.
  5. Clean off the lens using a clean microfiber cloth without dust or dirt and lens cleaning solution once the scratch is no longer visible. If you used a buffer with liquid, let it dry before completing this step. Ideally, you will no longer be able to see the scratch, and your camera will produce good image quality in its images.
  6. Test your camera. If you don’t see scratches in the picture, you completed the process. However, if you still notice areas with poor image quality, you may need to replace the lens. You might be able to have it repaired. Since you used an unauthorized product on the lens, you may have damaged the coating on it, and the brand may no longer cover the product.

Warning

If you choose to use a small Dremel tool, you will need to wear safety glasses to avoid getting the buffer in your eyes throughout the process.

F.A.Q.S

How do I protect lenses from getting scratched?

Make sure you use a lens cover and case when you aren’t actively using your camera. Additionally, make sure your camera is completely dry before putting it away. Small scratches may still occur while you are using the camera, but these steps should help to mitigate the damage.


Do scratches affect image quality?

Some scratches can reduce the image quality of your photos if they are deep enough. However, small scratches may not impact your image too much, especially if they are on the periphery of the image. You can always take some test shots to check how they look.


Does a lens scratch really impact your photos?

Most scratches will not impact your photos. However, if they do, you may see image degradation and glare where the scratches are. Sometimes, the scratches may look like lines or blurry spots.



STAT: From January-July of 2021, approximately 5,482,292 interchangeable lenses were shipped worldwide. (source)

Ryan Mcbride

Ryan McBride is a writer based in Los Angeles. He has contributed work to magazines and sites including Gayot, Spy, Paper, Ladygunn, 3AM and the Crab Creek Review. He writes consumer reviews, essays, science and tech journalism as well as literary and art criticism.

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