View Full Version : YIKES! Small scratches in rear element.

Todd Caudle
6-Mar-2001, 22:36
While shooting one recent morning, I lost my grip on my Symmar-S 210mm and watch ed helplessly as it tumbled down a rock and dirt hillside. Upon inspection of th e aftermath, I found three small, parallel scratches (looked kinda like the hash marks left by Arnie Saknussem to lead future explorers in "Journey to the Cente r of the Earth"), perhaps a mm or less long. Being a 210mm lens with quite a bit of distance between the rear element and the film plane, I was heartened to not be able to detect any transfer of the defect to the subsequent shots. My questi ons are:

Are there situations I should be wary of, i.e. shooting into or towards the sun, that will show the defects?

If I wanted to replace only the rear element, is that even possible? Are front a nd rear a matched set? Does the out-of-production vintage of the Symmar-S line v oid the possibility? I'm inclined to think that I'd have to replace the whole le ns, unless I could find someone who might have scratched their front element and are just looking to unload a rear element from a lens that's otherwise worthles s to them.

All thoughts appreciated!

Kevin M Bourque
6-Mar-2001, 23:16
Todd -

First, let me offer my condolences. I dropped a nearly new lens off my Nikon once. Fall down go boom. Felt terrible about it for days.

I know I'll get flamed for this, but in my experience a lens can be horribly dorked up before it makes a huge difference. I used to have an old Dagor with a CRATER in the rear element. I painted it over with a black magic marker (you know, just like that old Santana song, "I've Got A Black Magic Marker.....") to cut down on reflections and never gave it a second thought. Was it as flare-free as new? I doubt it. Was it good enough for me? You bet.

I would bet that your two lens elements are in fact matched, but I can't prove it.

You probably have not affected sharpness, but you have lost some contrast. I'd be inclined to make some exposures in deliberately difficult situations and see what they look like. But, most of us never make "before" pictures, never thinking we're going to watch our lenses Journey to the Center of the Earth (what were those slow- moving hissing lizards called anyway? Sleestack or something like that. They weren't very smart).

If your pics are okay, you may just decide to get over it and use it as is. I don't know if this will make you feel any better, but most of my pictures are bad because of me, not my lenses! Sorry to hear the story, just the same.

7-Mar-2001, 00:20
Hey Todd - life's full of scratches. Unless you are seeing some degradation of your images from the mishap, keep shooting.

Also, did you know an unscratched lens is far more susceptible to the downward effects of gravity? One less thing to worry about.

Paul Schilliger
7-Mar-2001, 04:27
Todd, sorry for the mishap. Years ago, I dropped a brand new SuperAngulon 90/5,6 . It was not properly fastened to my Technika and fell, fortunately on a heap of gravel. Damages were limited to s urface scratches on the rear element and are outside the image frame, but you know how I felt. Worse: Years l ater, I passed the same spot when something attracted my eye. I rapidly mounted my camera on the tripod with same lens on and when I grabbed the tripod to move it, the camera flew to the ground because the Bogen quick mount w as not properly seated! The bed of the Technika was badly bent. I could straighten it and have made some good pictu res with the crippled combo, which relieves a bit of the pain!

Kevin M Bourque
7-Mar-2001, 11:36
Here I stand, guilty of having hazy memories of childhood television shows. I was trying to be clever by making references to the Sleestack in ?Journey to the Center of the Earth?, when in fact they were in ?Land of the Lost?, sort of a low budget knock-off. Good thing I didn?t try to impress you with any ?Johnny Quest? trivia. Sigh.

I really did have a Dagor with a Moon-sized crater in it, though. It was big. Whatever dug that hole killed the dinosaurs, too.

I?ll stick to cameras in the future. :-(

dave bulmer
7-Mar-2001, 14:26
I'm pretty sure that this won't make you feel any better but an old Nikon dealer I knew once told me that he had an old 600mm 5.6 that had a crack and a hole that you could poke your finger through in one of the internal lenses. Said it hadn't made any difference at all. Mind you he was trying to sell me a lens that had more mould in it than some French cheeses.

chris jordan
8-Mar-2001, 16:04
about 10 years ago i was photographing in a frozen meadow before dawn, and while i was composing my Nikkor 210mm fogged and then the fog froze into a sheet of ice on the front element. i had to take the picture, but i had no lens paper or other cleaning stuff, so i wiped the ice off using my dirty shirt knowing it would probably damage my lens permanently. and, yep, it did-- took the coating off in a small area and scratched the glass slightly. but i've been using it ever since and it's sharp as tack, and the frozen meadow image is one of my best so it was worth it! ~cj

Dave Anton
9-Mar-2001, 01:03
Todd, Sorry to hear about the mishap. I had that happen to a blad lens of mine but it was the front element. The surface had a few scratches on it. After noticing flare marks from it, I took it to a shop that resets my shutters for me. They filled the scratches in with black ink. It doesn't look pretty but it works and the reflections are gone.

If you don't notice any difference when shooting with your damaged lens, then don't really worry about it.