How to tell if a Lens Coating is Damaged? Can you fix it?

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While we spend a lot of time choosing our favorite lens, we generally do not focus on lens coating. In fact, a lot of people do not know that camera lenses come with coatings that protect the lens. And if the lens coating is damaged, then it can seriously affect the picture quality and lens performance. So, whether you are a photography enthusiast or not, having general knowledge about lens coating will surely be beneficial for you.

In this post, we will share all you need to know about lens coating damage and ways to identify it. So, hang tight and read the post till the end.

What is lens coating? 

Every camera lens is coated with a ‘lens coating’ on its surface. Camera lens coating produces optics that can form an image with the least optical degradation. Simply put, a camera lens coating reduces light reflection and increases light transmission within the lens.

Different types of lens coating:

Camera lens coatings can be of four types, namely:

  • Antireflection coatings,
  • High reflection coatings,
  • Extreme ultraviolet coatings,
  • and Transparent conductive coatings.

Is the lens coating removable?

You cannot usually remove the camera lens coating. However, speaking of plastic lenses, you can use a glass etching compound. For glass lenses, you can mechanically scrape off such coating by softening it with isopropyl alcohol. A damaged AR coating that has not also severely damaged the hard coat beneath it, can be reapplied.

Methods to identify lens coating damage:

What a lens coating primarily does is provide longevity and protection to any camera lens for any time span. Lens coating damage may occur due to trivial reasons such as fingerprints, dust, smudges, scratches, cracks, or dents. These can render a camera ineffective 

So when should you start suspecting lens coating damage? Well, it can be suspected when you notice discoloration or blurredness in photos shot through the same. You may also spot certain inconsistencies across the lens glass.

Lens coating damage can be identified in the following ways:-

Physical inspection

On visual inspection, you may find irregularities outside and across the glass lens. Use a magnifying glass to check the camera lens for smudges or scratches. Examine the frontal element of the camera lens coating and the inside shining light from varying angles to identify scratches.

Checking whether the lens is sealed and mounted properly is important. Water damage in humid places damages lens coating by causing the seal to wear off or by damaging the lens mount. Also, turn the zoom and focus rings on to make sure that they work smoothly and do not make strange sounds. 

Test Shots

Check the autofocus to steer clear of any issues. Nextly, check for uneven focus, image sharpness adequacy, overly chromatic aberration, and vignetting.

Another useful technique is the sharpness test, which can either be downloaded online or by using a tripod to avoid the shaking of the camera. In the offline version, the sharpness of the camera lens coating can be tested by shooting anything flat and parallel to the camera. 

The manual focusing mode can be tested by focusing and defocusing. This helps to notice that the subject at the center stays in its spot while the image gets focused and defocused simultaneously. Make sure the image is thoroughly sharp.

The accuracy can also be tested by forward or backward focusing. The lens software or the calibration chart are two useful ways to test accuracy. 

Mechanical problem

If you observe that the zoom is not in working condition or the aperture does not turn, the camera lens may be facing mechanical issues despite the coating being in intact condition.

Software problem

A lack of sharpness in the image or lack of response to autofocus settings point toward software issues with the lens or a damaged camera lens coating. It is advisable to contact a professional during such a dilemma.

Repairing lens coating damage:

We do understand that lens coating is an extremely vital part of a camera. It is very rarely repairable. Stripping off the damaged portion of the coating and recoating the lens, is a highly expensive process. In fact, buying a new lens or a donor lens is a cost-effective alternative compared to repairing a damaged lens coating. 


Prevention is better than cure. If you do feel protective over your camera, you must take care of its lens. Do refrain from polishing the lens, and never use your bare hands, saliva, or Q-tips to clean the coating as it can aggravate any prior damage.

A lens cleaning kit comes in handy at this point. It consists of a microfibre cloth, lens pouch, rocket blower, lens brush, liquid cleaner, and a sensor swab.

Other essential tools can be an ultraviolet filter, camera lens cleaning wet wipes, and desiccants like silica gel packets. We know you are passionate about how your camera yields highly photogenic shots. However, you may ruin it by over-cleaning instead of enhancing the quality of pictures. 

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