View Full Version : My *&#@%$ 80mm lens fell

Harley Goldman
25-Jun-2007, 14:32
My Schneider 80mm SS XL fell off the front of my Arca yesterday, right onto a bunch of rocks. It must not have been clipped in completely. It could have been far worse, but it ended up with a pit on the front element about 1/8 inch in diameter, about 3/8 inch from center.

I have a call into Schneider's repair center in Van Nuys, but the service rep, John Sioringas, is on vacation this week. I want to see what my repair options are and how much it might run me.

I am thinking that I could get away with it on a longer lens, but on a wide angle, the ding is going to cause image problems. Flare is the most obvious problem, but I am concerned it would be detectable in larger prints.

Any opinions on repairs or image issues? Trying to get some info to help with my damage assessment.

Fortunately, it is not my most used lens, but it sure is nice to have when I need it.


Doug Dolde
25-Jun-2007, 14:37
Ouch ! I feel your pain. I had that happen to my 110mm SS XL but I had a Lee adapter ring on it. It just dented the rear filter ring which I bent back. Can't use it for rear filters then I never did anyway.

I can't imagine trying to use a lens with a glass chip though. Bet the repair price is small compared to the price of buying a new one.

Brian Sims
25-Jun-2007, 15:18
Yikes! After an accident like that:

Step 1. Consume a significant portion of a bottle of scotch (or some other significant vice if you don't drink).

Step 2. Call your insurance agent. Some homeowner policies will cover accidents like this, especially if you've been with the same company for a long time and haven't made lots of claims ($1,500 for them is nothing and would probably buy your loyalty for many years).

Step 3. Photograph the damaged lens in adverse environments (half submerged in sand with crashing wave, touching hot lava, tied to a string on the back of a just married limo), call it "postmodern photography" and try to sell enough prints to buy a new lens.

Donald Qualls
25-Jun-2007, 16:17
Well, or fill in the ding with India ink and shoot a few sheets to see what it actually does to your image quality when you eliminate direct scattering by the damaged portion of the glass.

In theory, removal of any glass should result in stress relief that will result in changing the contour of the glass near the ding, but in practice, the results are often undetectable once you eliminate direct scattering...

Richard Wasserman
25-Jun-2007, 16:44
I sympathize. I had someone on a bicycle run into my tripod and knock the camera over which of course landed directly on my 110mm Super Symmar, which was totaled. My homeowners insurance bought me a new one and then informed me that they wouldn't pay a claim like that again.

I would try Donald's idea with the India ink-you have nothing to lose and it just might work. Good luck

Why are all the damaged lens stories so far all Super Symmars? Do they have a weird sense of gravity or something?

Ernest Purdum
25-Jun-2007, 17:10
There is another factor with dropped lenses. The glass may be "strained" which affects image quality. The test is to examine it betseen crossed polarizers. Strain shows up as a pattern which rotates along with the lens.

Andrew O'Neill
25-Jun-2007, 17:54
The same thing happened to me twice. Once with a nikkor W210, and once with SW120. The 210 fell and I managed to catch it with my foot which totally amazed me. I wasn't so lucky with the 120. I was in a mine tunnel and pointed the camera down. One minute the coal car tracks were there on the gg and then there was all this blurry light...followed by a thud on the rail balast. The front element had two nicks but luckily off centre.

erie patsellis
25-Jun-2007, 18:17
If you dont' have insurance, just ink it and give it a shot, you may be pleasently surprised.


25-Jun-2007, 20:41
As a sailor, I have a golden rule - everything must be tied down. Why not put a lanyard around the lens to prevent this sort of thing?

26-Jun-2007, 01:28
How did this happen in the first place?!?!

I don't even know how a lens could shift from my cameras...but is it because I have much older woodies, and the lenses are held in place like they were never going to be removed??

I was trying to put a 4x5 spring back together the other day, cracked the GG. One of the screws is in too tight to remove too :eek:

Mark Sampson
26-Jun-2007, 07:05
Ash, there are only two kinds of LF photographers; those who have dropped a lens, and those who will, but haven't yet. I joined the first category in about 1985.

David A. Goldfarb
26-Jun-2007, 07:21
I've been lucky so far in this area.

I don't think front element replacement on current lenses is such an unusual repair in any format. One thing I worry about with dropped lenses is whether it's affected the alignment. Meanwhile, I'd try the india ink trick until you can send it to Schneider for a new element and to have the lens recollimated.

Kevin Crisp
26-Jun-2007, 08:05
Take a fine point Sharpie and carefully touch up the chip. When you look at a bright light through the lens and it is not a pinpoint of light on the chip you have done enough. Try out the lens. I'm guessing in the long run all you really have damaged from a practical point of view is resale value.

26-Jun-2007, 09:42
Mark, I dropped a HEAVY barrel lens on the ground indoors. Totally screwed up the internal threading with the big dent. The rear element was unscrewed at the time and no longer screws back in completely... I guess I'm the first category. I refuse to do it again :D

Mark Carstens
26-Jun-2007, 10:31
My sympathies as well. Hopefully, you'll find a solution that suits you. John's a good egg, and should be able to give you a good idea of what it will cost to replace/repair the lens.

As for prevention of future catastrophies...

A few years back, I had a lens fall off my Arca too. The clip that held the board in didn't have an indent or lock to let me know that the board was secure (in my then 110 adapter). Out shooting one day, I tilted the camera forward and off the board came -- lens firmly attached -- and for the fraction of eternity it took to fall, I felt that surge of terror... :eek: holy crap! Fortunately, the impact was in deep grass, and on the edge of the lens board, so the lens wasn't harmed. :o

It was at that point that I decided the odds were against me being lucky a second time, so I replaced my 171 to 110 adapter with a non-OEM manufactured Linhof-style adapter. I bought it used, and at a fraction of the cost of the Arca version, as someone else did a nice job of modifying a 171x171 lensboard. If you query members here, you might be able to find someone who knows someone who can do the simple mod that it seems to require.

The downside (of sorts) is that this required me to sell all off my Arca boards and buy Linhof-style boards (these are ubiquitous -- made by a number of manufacturers, easy to find used). The upside is much greater, in that, now I know that when my lens board is in place, it's not going anywhere without the camera. :p

Hope this helps.


26-Jun-2007, 10:39
My lens-boards are tight on the camera.

The speed graphic is stiff with the locking mech, so I check it's locked before shooting and I know it's not gonna shift too easy.
The half plate Kodak has metal tension things (its on the camera restoration link in my sig) that act as metal spring clips on the bottom, and a latch on the top, extra tightened. Nothing moves!
The Korona has a much looser latch system, so I wedged thick paper (backing paper from 120 rollfilm) folded on the inside, it doesn't budge :)

Harley Goldman
26-Jun-2007, 11:00
I appreciate all the feedback.

I use Linhoff-type boards with an adapter board. The lens boards generally click into the adapter board with ease and are quite secure. No idea how I managed to not lock it in. I set up a couple of compositions with that lens before it tumbled. At least it did not fall from great height. It was only 1-1/2 to 2 feet off the ground.

I would guess I will be double checking to see it is secure from now on.

26-Jun-2007, 11:02
We all do this sooner or later. Try the ink you might get lucky. And try your home owners ins. You might get lucky again. Why is it we never drop junk lenses? I guess because we don't use them to often. My 90mm sa fell out of the camera. What saved it was I had the cable release in my hand. Learned a good lesson. Make sure the slide is down all the way.

good luck, Joe A

Robert Hughes
26-Jun-2007, 11:17
I dropped a lens onto a wooden tabletop a few months back. Dented the table. Lens is fine, knock on wood...

evan clarke
26-Jun-2007, 12:44
I joined the club by dropping 110 SS XL on asphalt (also an Arca). I was talking to somebody at the time and locked it haphazardly. The fall bent the front rim slightly and my solution was to force in a step up ring to 72mm which is the filter diameter I carry now for everything. It was a scary way to make the decision. Lens performs fine, I was lucky..Evan Clarke

26-Jun-2007, 13:07
:eek: Tell you what, I'm never owning an Arca Swiss!! :D :D

David Millard
26-Jun-2007, 18:27
In March, I spent a few enjoyable days photographing Big Bend (thanks in part to Joe Fork's hospitality and knowledgeable recommendations). Unfortunately, I concluded my trip by dropping my 100mm Planar face down on some unforgiving gravel. This was due to my clumsiness and lack of sleep rather than poor camera design - the Linhof lensboards lock firmly into place when I'm paying attention to what I'm doing.

It took me a few days before I could take the lens out and look at the small central chip in the front element again. Since then, I've been regularly checking eBay for a cheap Planar with a junk shutter or other problems from which I could salvage a replacement front element, but I haven't had any luck yet.

Has anybody heard of filling chips like these with a UV curing resin similar to the material used for cementing lens elements, in a procedure analogous to that used to repair car windshields? If the refractive index of the cement is close to that of the glass, I would think it would reduce the visible effect of the lens damage.

Donald Qualls
27-Jun-2007, 12:23
Unless the resin matches the refractive index of the glass almost perfectly, you'll still get refraction and scatter from the chip; inking it flatly blocks the light, where filling it with resin would reduce the angles of refraction and amounts of reflection -- unless the defect is *huge*, the effect of inking is noticeable only to those who view their negatives with a microscope or print to wall size and then examine the print with a loupe.

28-Jun-2007, 11:47
I have a pure curiosity question. There are seemingly endless arguments about the utility of "protective" UV filters on lenses, the usual anecdotes about dropping lenses off the Empire State Building and having them survive with a dent in the filter ring and a shattered UV filter. Of course, most of these stories involve SLR lenses (without built-in shutters) and of course, are probably largely apocryphal.

I only mention the UV filter issue because that is the usual context of these stories, but when one of these LF lenses take an impact off the filter ring, what is the effect of the force on the inner workings of the lens? It's interesting because you often see auctions, listings, etc where a comment is made that the filter ring is dinged but the glass is "fine". On first blush (to a newbie, at least) it would seem that the "problem" would involve using filters --- it seems to me that the *real* question is how it got dinged in the first place and whether the lens is "invisibly" damaged.

This thread is enough to give me a nice shot of paranoia.


Donald Qualls
28-Jun-2007, 11:59
What you describe is something I'd expect to have more "impact" on a large format type lens than on an SLR lens, no doubt. An SLR lens is typically built in a full length, full diameter barrel, while a LF lens is mounted into aluminum threads in a shutter, and often has much larger front and rear elements than the thread diameter -- the latter meaning there can be considerable leverage applied to the shutter's thread collars if the lens is dropped, even if it does land on the filter ring and not directly on the glass. Further, SLR lenses are very commonly used with hoods on the filter rings, or with UV filters left on, which provide a little protection; that's rarely the case with our equipment.

I wouldn't expect an imact that doesn't obviously damage the glass to have much effect on the mechanics of a shutter, but I have seen pictures of shutters that had been *bent*, so the front and rear lens groups were no longer coaxial or even parallel. That has to have a bad effect on the lens performance (though if the lens itself isn't significantly damaged, it may only require remounting to a new shutter), and even if the shutter still fires correctly at all speeds and the aperture is accurate and smooth, it's good only for parts if the thread collars are misaligned.

Tempting to suggest someone invent a lanyard system for lens boards, but then we'd forget to attach it, or have to constantly check that the lanyard itself hasn't crept in front of the lens between the last time we looked in the GG and when we're actually ready to release the shutter...

Peter Williams
28-Jun-2007, 15:22
I dropped one last year while swapping lenses in the cold. I have a "personal articles policy" from my insurance agent that covers all of my camera equipment. The cost is only about $10 per year for each $1,000 in coverage. The piece of mind is invaluable and allows me the freedom to take my equipment out of the house.

28-Jun-2007, 16:39
Thanks, Don --- that makes sense!