Camera lenses are very fragile. Even if you’re taking excellent care of yours, it’ll likely need a lens repair sooner or later.

So, here’s our updated lens repair guide to walk you through the common types of lens damage, troubleshooting, and determining when to take your camera to a specialist.

First, let’s talk about software faults

Software faults are generally easy to spot and fix. You’ll notice that the photos you take aren’t as sharp as they used to be, and the lens will have trouble responding to autofocus settings. You might also see an error message pop up on the screen.

To fix this issue, just update your firmware. You’ll likely have a manual somewhere to tell you how. Or if not, there’s a good chance there will be one on Google.

But if the problem persists, your camera might have suffered some physical damage. Or you may need to contact its manufacturer to see if they can determine the nature of the software fault.

Scratched front element

Scratches can vary from barely perceptible to really noticeable. Large scratches lead to significant focus and light scattering issues. Meanwhile, smaller ones might not affect your photos at all. Or, they may only affect photos taken at smaller apertures or at night, where shooting lights makes whitish smears or halos pop up.

Now, camera lens scratches are tricky. On the one hand, even if a scratch isn’t bothering you now, it might grow over time and start to impact photo quality. And larger scratches are more difficult to repair than smaller ones.

Additionally, trying to fix even a minor scratch yourself could make it worse or compromise the protective coating of the lens, leaving it vulnerable to other types of damage. So, here are your options:

  1. You can clean the lens (see our lens maintenance article for instructions) to see if that helps. Sometimes, what looks like a scratch might turn out to be a rogue particle. But if it is a scratch, DO NOT try to buff it out yourself. Despite what the internet might tell you, it could lead to irreparable lens damage.
  2. You can replace the lens element. If you’re comfortable doing it yourself, do so, but make sure to use the appropriate equipment and remove it in a dust-free environment. Please note, however, we don’t recommend replacing internal or fixed lens elements yourself, as this requires more complex disassembly.
  3. Take your camera to a lens repair specialist. We’ll assess your lens and either repair or replace it based on the damage.

Mechanical damage

Mechanical damage is damage done to the inner workings of the lens mount. It will typically result in your lens not retracting, focusing, and/or zooming properly. Try using and fiddling with all the moving parts of your camera, like the aperture ring, autofocus, and manual focus. You can also try taking some shots of a flat textured surface to see if the photo quality has been affected.

If you find something off, you can replace the whole mount (provided it’s not fixed) or get it replaced by a professional. You can also seek out a professional for mount repairs. We don’t recommend picking it apart and putting it back together yourself, as it could do more harm than good.

Cracked lens element

A cracked lens, regrettably, is not fixable. You will need to replace the lens, which you can do yourself or ask a specialist to. In most cases, both front and internal lens elements can be replaced without needing to replace the entire mount. But we cannot stress enough that if you’re not comfortable changing the lens yourself or if the mount is fixed, it’s best to seek out specialist help.

And last but not least, environmental damage

As you might imagine, water damage is dangerous for a camera. From electrical faults to rust to fungus to unsightly splotches, it’s in your best interest to protect your equipment as best you can. To start, we’d recommend storing your camera in a quality camera bag and a cool, dry place. Additionally, always store it with a lens cap on. And if you’re shooting in wet weather, use a rain cover and check your camera after the shoot to see if any water droplets got through.

If you suspect water may be inside your camera lens:

  1. Turn off your camera
  2. Take out the battery and memory cards immediately
  3. Point your camera at the floor to stop any present droplets from getting to your sensor
  4. Carefully wipe off the camera body
  5. Take off the lens mount (if possible, and not fixed)
  6. Rinse and clean the lens to deal with any microorganisms and dirt particles
  7. Let things dry. But DO NOT put your lens in the sun (you can learn more about camera maintenance tips here)

Carefully cleaning and drying the lens mount and elements should prevent fungus from growing and remove splotches on the glass.

But, water can work fast. So if it leads to a mechanical fault, your camera not turning on, or water damage to an internal lens element, take it to a lens repair shop.

We hope we’ve helped you learn more about your lenses and lens repair.

Remember to keep a close eye on your lenses and maintain them properly. But most importantly, keep in mind that while you can get away with minor DIY fixes like updates, cleaning, and some replacements, it’s often best to seek expert advice.

And there’s nowhere better to do so than CameraFIX. We’re happy to help you pinpoint what’s wrong and recommend the best course of action.

So, if your lens is damaged, don’t hesitate to get in touch.