Detecting Lens Scratches on a P&S

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Detecting Lens Scratches on a P&S
4 months ago

I have a Panasonic Lumix LX-7 that I shoot infrequently with (for various reasons), and thus it is in great condition. However, I am beginning to suspect that the lens might have microscratches, but I am not sure. I was wondering how to best be sure if microscratches are present, and if this will be significant.

The best way I can describe the microsratches is as follows:

- I use a halogen desk lamp with a long articulating arm, 50W. This gives moderately bright illumination. I would use a brighter light source but I do not have one

- I also use the sun, but since this is a P&S, I cannot detach the lens to "look through"

- I am middle-aged, so my eyesight is not what it once was, so it is possible that I might be missing some imperfections (although generally speaking I do not have problems with vision on a day-to-day basis, my eyesight is not quite 20/20)

- I clean my lenses after every shoot. I try to be gentle at first using recommended protocol (beginning with a rocket blower, then a synth-sable brush, and working up to microfiber). I do not use excessive strength in cleaning but sometimes it is necessary to use some pressure if the lens is oily (e.g. due to fingerprints from my toddler).

- Giving the lens a quick look, you would not notice anything amiss. It looks clean, has sharp reflections, and the glass looks polished

- Examining the lens closely under the lamp, you also do not notice anything right away. However, if you start turning the lens and viewing under multiple angles, there is a hint of light refraction that seems to indicate a microscratch. Cleaning the scratched area does not remove this artefact

- Equipment used for cleaning: rocket blower, synthetic sable artist brush, Zeiss lens-wipes, microfiber cleaning cloth, sometimes 90% isopropanol (not usually for lenses though)

I do not have any magnifying equipment, but would that help in the detection of microscratches? E.g. would a magnifying glass or microscope of some sort be available and indicated? Also, is there a point at which microscratches start to seriously degrade image quality? Looking at my photos, it seems that the lens has not reached that point, but I am curious as to when it might.

I actually have a similar situation with my Canon 70-200mm f/4 (non-IS) UV filter, although in this case the lens itself does not seem to exhibit any microscratches. At what point should the UV filter be replaced?

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