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Thread: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

  1. #1

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    Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    I have a 203mm Optar f7.5 lens in a Graflex #2 shutter. The shutter was completely inop but I got it working (and had a great time doing it). The lens elements, however, are quite scratched and I was hoping to clean them up a bit. I have two questions I was hoping to get help with.

    First, I assume this is a coated lens, but honestly have no idea how to tell. Any advice on determining if an old lens is coated or not would be greatly appreciated.

    Secondly, any advice on cleaning up scratches on lens? I've read that some people clean up scratches with a dremel tool and some polish. I'm sure there are all sorts of factors that come into play if you decide to do this such as removing any lens coating that may be there. But, I'm under the impression that a once-coated lens with no scratches is preferable to a coated lens with significant scratches. Any advice to better understand any factors would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm a hobbyist who gets alot of joy out of keeping old cameras and lenses alive so pristine optics is not the highest concern.

    Thanks, Eric

  2. #2

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    Re: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    A picture sure would help. A lot depends on what "quite scratched" means.

  3. #3
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    Using a Dremel tool on a lens worse than using a chain saw for brain surgery!

  4. #4

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    Re: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    The early 203mm Ektar's and probably similar Optars were notorious for having a very soft coating that scratched easily. There is no practical way to repair this, I would leave it as it as, the effect on picture quality is going to be minimal. Note it's kind of funny to note a scratch on a cell phone camera phone basically destroys it because of the low depth of field inherent to them making the scratch show very easily. A LF lens? Naw not a problem.

  5. #5

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    Re: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    Put a lens hood on it and see if you can discern any significant effects of the scratches. In most cases probably not.

  6. #6

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    Re: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    If the lens is coated there will be a C with a W inside it on the trim ring. It should be coated. Large scratches can be filled with, e.g., India Ink.

    To find out whether the scratches will be a problem, take a test shot or two with the lens. In my limited experience, deep scratches can but don't always cause problems, numerous small scratches (the cleaned with sandpaper look) are always problems. YMMV

  7. #7

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    Re: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    If the lens is coated there will be a C with a W inside it on the trim ring. It should be coated. Large scratches can be filled with, e.g., India Ink.

    To find out whether the scratches will be a problem, take a test shot or two with the lens. In my limited experience, deep scratches can but don't always cause problems, numerous small scratches (the cleaned with sandpaper look) are always problems. YMMV
    "Cleaned with sandpaper look" would be how I would describe mine. Have you ever had any luck addressing this?

    That being said, I may just try it out as is and see what I get as others have suggested.

  8. #8

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    Re: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric in Vegas View Post
    "Cleaned with sandpaper look" would be how I would describe mine. Have you ever had any luck addressing this?

    That being said, I may just try it out as is and see what I get as others have suggested.
    I have a 105mm Xenotar that fits that description. The only remedy is to send it to an optical technician who can grind a clean surface on the glass. (Jason Lane can do this)
    I opted not to do anything to mine - it functions well as a kind of "soft focus" lens, to great effect.

    Use it, evaluate it's assets (or lack thereof) and decide for yourself if any action is required.

  9. #9

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    Re: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    FWIW, the Graflex 203/7.5 Optar (made by Wollensak) is not the same lens as the Kodak 203/7.7 Ektar, and the coatings are different. The Optar is a post-WWII design and is coated. I believe (haven't seen one) that EK offered an uncoated 203/7.7 as an "Anastigmat", similar to other lenses in their line in that way.
    Mr. Fromm's advice in post #6 is spot on. Try your lens, at varying f/stops and lighting conditions, and see if it's good enough for you.

  10. #10

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    Re: Old scratched lenses, coatings, etc.

    Thank you all for the info. I'm definitely going to try using the lens for awhile rather than attempting to remove the scratches.

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