which is worse?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by R Paul, Jun 22, 2012.

  1. R Paul

    R Paul Member

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    Hi

    I was wondering about something simple: Would a scratch on the front element of a lens cause more harm to an image than one on the back element?

    Thanks

    r paul
     
  2. Chrismat

    Chrismat Subscriber

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    A scratch on the back element would be worse because it is closer to the film plane. The further away from the film the less noticeable a scratch would be (as long as it isn't too bad).
     
  3. BobD

    BobD Member

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    If the scratch is on the front, everyone will see it and think you are a bad photographer for using a scratched lens.
    However, if the scratch is on the rear, no one will see it and your status will be unaffected.

    Therefore it is far better to have scratches on the rear of the lens.
     
  4. 36cm2

    36cm2 Member

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    Chrismat is right, but Bob D is funny.
     
  5. JLP

    JLP Subscriber

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    I don't have any lenses with a scratch on the front but i do have a Nikon 90 f4.5 LF lens with a pretty visible chunk of glass missing almost at the center of the rear element. The lens performs exceptionally well and i have never seen any problems in the photos taken with this lens. Can't explain how that is possible but just shows that small imperfections don't make much of a difference except on the sales price.
     
  6. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    ...is this a trick question?

    Neither matters if it doesn't effect the image.

    But in seriousness, the front does not matter as much because of the amount of diffraction of light as it passes through each element hides any flaws better. Because in normal conditions, light will be "perfect" until the end element, (and assuming the rear is with the stratches) the problems that arise cannot be subdued by other lenses "correcting" it's flaw. That being said, I've shot plenty of lenses with marks on both front and rear with no "real" consequences noticed on film. For example, I just made an 11x14 print from a shot on my 50mm lens that has residual mould marks on the inside of the front element, cleaning marks and stratches on the front element and coating spotting on the front and rear elements. I held it up to an 11x14 print from a perfect 35mm lens and NO ONE IN THE WORLD would be able to tell the condition of the two lenses based on the photographs. As a result, I never shy away from saving a few hundred dollars on user-grade lenses with a mark here or there.
     
  7. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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  8. Too old to care

    Too old to care Subscriber

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    That is truly amazing. Thanks for posting this. I will stop worrying about every piece of dust on my front lens from now on.
     
  9. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    While it all makes sense in theory I think the scratch on the rear is better and have shot lenses with such scratches with seemingly no issues. The front scratches make the lens more prone to flare in my experience.
     
  10. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    That is my understanding as well.
     
  11. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

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    Additionally, with the rear element usually being smaller, the same scratch would affect a larger percentage of the figured surface. I would think that would amplify its effects.
     
  12. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    I scratched the back of a small micro 4/3 lens (14-42mm) It was some kind of goop about 1/4". You couldn't see anything on the picture if it was a complex subject. But on a blue sky, it showed as a darkened area about 1/4". I sent it back to Olympus and they replaced the back lens element free of charged including shipping. That was really nice of them.
     
  13. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    The thing to do is to fill the scratches with black paint or marker. If they are too shallow to take paint they will probably not matter, unless there are many, which will cause problems. I know that at least some camera repairers will fill scratches very inexpensively.
     
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  15. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    I think one or two scratches (big or small) won't normally make any difference to the image. Its when you get the build up of years worth of cleaning marks that the flare goes up and the contrast goes down, and even then the image will still be sharp. Some amazing bargains can be had on Ebay if you don't mind the odd cosmetic mark on a front element.

    Steve
     
  16. R Paul

    R Paul Member

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    Thanks for all the input! I can now stop worrying about every little dust spot or smudge on the lens, and just go out and take some pictures instead.
    That lens test in the link above was great

    R paul
     
  17. Stan160

    Stan160 Member

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    My Nikkor 105/2.5 AI has a big scratch/gouge on the rear element. I bought it a suitably discounted price on approval, but after a very careful image comparison with the 80-200/2.8 I had at the time (itself an excellent lens) I was unable to spot the slightest imperfection from the 105mm even when using a digital body and pixel peeping the images side by side at 100%.

    Ian
     
  18. one90guy

    one90guy Subscriber

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    This is a very interesting post, shot down what I have always believed on lens glass. What about internal imperfections? I have a brand new looking Yashica 50mm M42 that has what looks liked a dried water spot, I was going to disassemble, probably destroy, just to try my hand at lens repair. Now I think I need to run some film with the lens.
     
  19. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    The effects of any scratch can be reduced or eliminated by filling it with black India ink. I found a 9 1/2" Dagor in a good Compound shutter at a camera show, the vendor wanted $50 for it - I traded a 35/2.8 pre Ai Nikkor for it. The Dagor, ecxept for a 3/8" gouge just off the center of the rear glass, was flawless. I filled the scratch with ink, the lens' performance cannot be distinguished from another 9 1/2" Dagor in barrel which I have.

    No scratches at all is obviously the ideal situation, but don't let one mark scare you off of an otherwise desireable lens. The Dagor was just too good to pass up - my second $50 Dagor. :smile:
     
  20. 2bits

    2bits Member

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    Very informative thread, thanks to the op and contributers! I learned a bunch!
    2bits
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Also, if the scratch is on the rear I won't see it and be annoyed.:wink:
     
  22. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    rear is worse. Less glass in the way to correct it.
     
  23. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Where on earth do you people get the idea that the lens can somehow "correct" for light scattered by a scratch or other flaw on the front?
     
  24. LyleB

    LyleB Member

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  25. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    My question too.
     
  26. BobD

    BobD Member

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    Who is "you people" ?