View Full Version : Scuffs on Front Element- Resale Value

Brian Vuillemenot
20-Oct-2007, 20:47
I had an unfortunate accident last week- the wind blew over my tripod while one of my prized lenses was mounted on the camera without a cap. The lens ended up with a 5 mm chip in the metal rim and two 2-3 mm scuffs on the front element. Although it seems like the scuffs have no effect on the image quality, I have a couple questions:

1) Should I black out the scuffs with a Sharpie or India ink to reduce any resulting flare?

2) How will this affect the resale value? The lens is an otherwise very desireable, expensive, modern multi-coated optic (whose identity I would rather keep secret for this post!).


Ron Marshall
20-Oct-2007, 20:55
The effect on the price will depend somewhat on supply and demand. If it is a very desirable lens which is rarely for sale then minor defects shouldn't effect the price very much. The opposite is also true.

Ernest Purdum
21-Oct-2007, 07:45
Yes to india ink if you are able to get it into the scuff grooves without getting it on good surface areas.

Jim Galli
21-Oct-2007, 08:06
On antique lenses it does affect value but not nearly as much. On modern multi-coated wunder lenses you are really playing to a different audience and I would expect the damage to lower the price by 25 - 35 %

Brian Ellis
21-Oct-2007, 10:58
Where are the scuffs? If they're at the edges and are only 2-3 mm they shouldn't have any effect on your photographs and I wouldn't worry about inking them in. If they're closer to the center maybe you should give it a try. Personally I'd leave the scuffs alone rather than taking a chance on messing up the lens even more, unless you find that flare is a major problem that can't be dealt with by use of a lens shade. If the chip in the rim is totally cosmetic and doesn't affect the use of lens caps or filters then it's no big deal.

As far as value, who knows. Partly depends on how valuable and readily available on the used market the lens is. If it was a relatively inexpensive lens that was readily available used in mint condition then you'd probably take a big hit. But you say it's an expensive lens. If it's seldom seen on the used market then buyers might be more willing to take a chance, especially if the scuffs are near the edges. But how much of a hit in either case is anybody's guess I think.

21-Oct-2007, 12:42
As others mention, it depends a lot. However, I believe that the scuffs and marks you indicate will significantly affect re-sell value, possibly by -30-50%. Many people will be reluctant to buy such a lens at normal market value, unless it has some rare and unusual characteristics, so your pool of potential buyers is immediately shrunk.

On the other hand, the problems you mention may not impact performance very much so you might consider just keeping and using the lens yourself to avoid taking the financial hit.

Sandy King

John Kasaian
22-Oct-2007, 17:01
Some scuffs add character and can increase your lens' value. Try scratching "W. Evans" or "A. Rothstein" on the barrel before putting it on ebay ;)

22-Oct-2007, 18:11
Some scuffs add character and can increase your lens' value. Try scratching "W. Evans" or "A. Rothstein" on the barrel before putting it on ebay ;)

And if you scratch off the black paint from the rim of a brass mounted Dagor you have a more valuable "Gold Rim Dagor".


Michael Gudzinowicz
24-Oct-2007, 07:54
Usually marks will affect resale value, but if it is a "prized lens" and still performs well, its value to you should not be diminished.

Performance will depend upon the specific damage. If the coating is smudged a bit and you can't see the damage on the front surface when looking through the rear of the lens, it won't have any real effect.

If you're looking at two thin hairline scratches or gouges, fill them as Ernest suggested which effectively takes them out of the light path.

If the scuffs have a ground glass appearance and are 2-3 mm in diameter, you may have a problem. The easiest way to check that is to set up a distant clear light bulb and focus on the filament exactly through the damaged area and through an undamaged area for comparison. (Replace the camera's GG with clear glass so you can see the aerial image.) The image should be relatively sharp, but as you stop down, the angle narrows and the damaged area contributes more to the image. The filament might blur at some point or exhibit flare. Cover the area with a 2 mm spot of opaque electrical tape, and see if the image improves or gets worse. If it improves, you might want to ink it out. There's a chance that it won't have much of an effect at shooting apertures if it is a "long" lens.

The effect may be subtle. Once when I was testing MF lenses and enlarging sections up to 20x, a friend spotted a small area of a print which was blurred when a WA lens was stopped down all the way. It was due to a small oil smudge on an interior element. At wide apertures, the effect was not seen since the spot size was small compared to the aperture diameter.

28-Oct-2007, 11:31
Brian, as I mentioned, you might be able to locate a replacement front element, it won't cost you anything to write a few emails. The rear element and shutter are tiptop.

As for how it affect image quality- I was there at that terrible moment and I saw the scuff and I'd say probably zero if you use a hood. I don't see how it couldn't adversely affect resale value though, sorry to say. But why not keep it, it's a helluva nice lens. It was just a bit too much for what we were doing.

Sorry to make light of the sitation but this reminds me of "camera$" on ebay who was trying to sell a very, very obviously scuffed apo nikkor and rated it 8/10. According to him it was done deliberately for a soft focus effect. Brilliant.

I hadn't heard the india ink trick, that's good. My thought would be to swab it very carefully with an appropriate lens cleaning solution, then micropolish it just to get rid of the whitish dust, and let it be. A full-service optometrist might be able to do that, they may work wonders on it so that you don't even need to ink or wax it.

28-Oct-2007, 12:46
Hah, camera$. Surprised they sell anything at all.

"Buy it now: $749.99! THIS IS A NICE PIECE AND IT IS PRICED TO SELL! 9/10!"