The safest way to deal with a scratch on your camera lens is to send the lens to a professional repair shop. However, if you’re good with camera hardware and want to save money, there are also DIY solutions like using a self-repair kit or rubbing alcohol.
My name is Caleb, and I have five years of photography experience. My primary specialty is sports photography, and I’ve covered many sports and teams from the semi-pro to college levels.
Today, I’ll go over removing scratches on your camera lens, from the safest methods to the more hands-on ones. I’ll also talk about whether you should try to repair a scratch at all.
If you’re wondering what to do about a camera lens scratch, read on for a simple breakdown.
- Do You Need to Fix a Lens Scratch?
- Tips to Remove Scratches from Camera Lenses
Do You Need to Fix a Lens Scratch?
Before we get into how to fix scratches, we should go over whether it’s worth it to fix them in the first place.
There’s no single correct answer here. Largely, this depends on the kind of scratch on your lens. It’s possible to keep using the lens with a small scratch and not notice much difference in performance.
On the other hand, a larger scratch can have a major impact on how your images come out. Before trying to fix a lens, consider whether you actually need to do so.
Tips to Remove Scratches from Camera Lenses
If you’ve decided you need to remove the scratch, there are a few main ways to do so. Before going with one of these methods, you should read into it a bit more on your own. Not all of them are beginner-friendly, and some may damage your lens more if you do them wrong.
1. Sending the Lens to a Repair Shop
The safest route is to send your lens to a dedicated repair shop, where an expert can fix the scratch.
Sure, it’s possible to do the fix at home; for some people, that’s the better option. But DIY repair isn’t for everybody, and there’s always the risk of making the problem worse by repairing the wrong way.
By sending the lens to a shop, you’re avoiding that risk. The downside, of course, is that this costs more than the various options for self-repair.
2. Using a DIY Repair Kit
If you are good with hardware, consider looking into a lens repair kit. These aren’t for beginners or anyone who isn’t well-versed in the hardware side of the camera world.
Despite the learning curve, these repair kits offer a great amount of control to those who use them. They allow you to remove the lens itself from its casing and carry out repairs in a method you choose.
They’re also reasonably cheap, and once you’ve spent the money on one, you can continue using it in the future.
3. DIY Repair Using Rubbing Alcohol
A simpler method of home lens repair is using rubbing alcohol. To do this, you’ll need to dilute the rubbing alcohol with a ratio of one part alcohol to 20 parts water. If you skip this step, you’ll end up causing further damage to the lens.
After diluting the alcohol, you’ll have to dampen a microfiber cloth with it. It’s important that the cloth is microfiber and designed for cleaning lenses. Other common materials, like paper, can create tiny scratches of their own when used to clean a lens.
You should gently rub the microfiber over the scratch. Keep doing this, and the scratch should start to go away. Finally, use another clean microfiber cloth to dry off the lens.
Other Methods for DIY Repair
Other DIY methods are out there, and they commonly resemble the rubbing alcohol one. Some of them include using toothpaste, Vaseline, or windshield polish.
I’ve decided against listing these other methods here because, with the less common ones, it’s harder to judge whether they consistently work. It’s also harder to judge their risk of damaging the lens.
However, if you don’t like the other methods here for whatever reason, know there are other options. You can easily do your own research on them by searching for DIY lens repair methods.
Here are some of the commonly asked questions around the subject of lens scratches and DIY repair.
Does Toothpaste Remove Micro Scratches?
Yes, toothpaste is an abrasive that can serve a similar role to rubbing alcohol in removing small scratches. However, applying it requires caution to avoid problems like creating more scratches in the process.
What is the Best Thing to Remove Scratches?
Arguably, rubbing alcohol is the best for getting rid of scratches. It’s readily available to most people, inexpensive, and the process of applying it is relatively easy.
What is the Cheapest Way to Buff Out Scratches?
If you’re looking for the absolute cheapest way to get rid of a scratch, you may want to consider the toothpaste method, as nearly everyone already has toothpaste at home.
As you can see here, there’s a full spectrum of choices for fixing a lens scratch, ranging from taking it to a repair shop to using both beginner and advanced DIY repair methods at home.
Have you ever had to repair a lens yourself? Tell us in the comments!