Podcast Episode

The Lensrentals Podcast Episode #9 – How to Break a Lens

Each week Roger Cicala, founder of Lensrentals.com, hosts conversations about the art and science of capturing images. From photography to videography, film, history, and technology, the show covers a wide range of topics to educate and inspire creators of all kinds.


How to Break a Lens

Roger is joined by our Repair Manager Aaron and Senior Photo Tech Joey to discuss broken lenses, the types of repairs they’ve encountered, what they think can be attempted at home, and how to prevent repairs from being needed in the first place! They dish on which repair center takes the longest to get the gear back from, what environments they can count on to break a lens and advise the best gear for shooting in the rain. In this talk, they reference enjoying working with PhotoTech which is an authorized service center for Canon, Sony, Nikon, FujiFilm, and Sigma.

If you’ve frequented this blog before, you probably realize that we do a lot of repairs. With over 300,000 pieces of gear in our inventory, it’s not uncommon to get the occasional broken return. As a result, we have a repair department headed by Roger and Aaron. With their expertise, along with Joey (who is among the team that inspects the gear for damage), we share our insight as to what is often broken on lenses, and what you can do to prevent damage to the gear. From scratches on the front element to broken Image Stabilization units, tune into to this podcast to get a better insight on what might break on your lens, and how to ensure the longevity of your gear.


Spotlight on Ryan Hill

Ryan is our Video Product Development Specialist, which is a mouthful but means he helps figure out what new products we want to carry, how to inspect, support and accessorize it and how we’ll market it. Ryan has had all the jobs. Really. But before working at Lensrentals he used to PA in North Carolina. His favorite job was working on Eastbound and Down and tells us why and how he got the gig which is quite a tale indeed. Ryan’s favorite new piece of gear is the Quasar Science QLED light kit which are super bright 4ft long LED’s that are easy to control with full RGB spectrum.



00:45 – Introduction to Roger Cicala, Aaron Closz, and Joey Miller

01:00 – What is identified as a broken lens

01:30 – Mechanical breakdowns are by far the most common break of a lens

02:00 – What is the most common breaks for Canon and Nikon

04:00 – How to detect if image stabilization is working properly

06:00 – How to detect if a scratch on a lens is insignificant and what needs to be repaired

07:30 – How Aaron tests lenses and scratches for flaring

10:00 – What are everyone’s individual policies on UV filters (for protection of the lens)

13:20 – What is the quickest way to destroy a lens?

17:00 – BREAK

24:00 – Let’s talk repairs, and what is done inhouse and what is sent into the manufacturer

25:00 – What is the turnaround times for each manufacturer brand

30:00 – The difference of repairs and how in-depth the repairs might be depending on what needs to be fixed

35:00 – Which autofocus systems are more expensive to repair – ring focus or linear electromagnetic?

36:00 – Which lens repairs can be done at home?

41:00 – Which repairs aren’t worth the cost of repair?

45:30 – What do you do with your equipment to avoid having to get it repaired?


The Lensrentals Podcast is a production of Lensrentals, founded by Roger Cicala. Our production staff includes Drew Cicala, Ryan Hill, Sarah McAlexander, SJ Smith, Julian Harper, John Tucker, and Zach Sutton. Other contributors include Roger Cicala, Joey Miller, Ally Aycock Patterson, Joshua Richardson, and Philip Robertson.

Thanks to Jacques Granger for our theme song.

Submit a topic idea, question, or comment, leave us a voicemail at 901-609-LENS, or send us an email at podcast@lensrentals.com.


Author: Lensrentals

Articles written by the entire editorial and technical staff at LensRentals.com. These articles are for when there is more than one author for the entire post, and are written as a community effort.

Posted in Podcast Episode
  • Eamon Hickey

    Late to this podcast, but I wanted to second your comments (I think it was Aaron talking) about the trend to build camera products in such a way that they are designed to be repaired by doing simple sub-assembly swap-outs, typically with a flat rate fee associated with it. And then the service procedures are set up to work within that system—it’s an integrated approach.

    As you guys pointed out, one consequence is that often a repair will cost more than a product is worth. I experienced this recently with a lens that had an autofocus issue (but worked fine in manual focus). The authorized service center didn’t even want to see the lens; they simply asked for a general description of the problem (on a web form), then quoted me a flat rate, sight unseen. This could only be done in a product design/product service system that is set up for simple flat rate sub-assembly replacements. The flat rate they wanted was more than the lens is worth.

    I don’t know whether this is good or bad overall (it was bad for me in my particular case, but I can see pros and cons for both manufacturers and consumers), but it’s definitely a change. When I started in the photo industry 30 years ago, this was not the norm at all.

    Obviously, camera companies did not pioneer this approach; other sectors of the electronics industry were doing it earlier, and probably other industries I’m not aware of. But it’s a notable change.

  • John Dillworth

    Excellent, useful information. Sounds like buying primes without image stabilization may reduce lifetime repair costs……unless I do something stupid. Zooms are useful but troublesome beasts

  • Frank Kolwicz

    Please pay attention to the audio levels, often your voices drop way down, as is normal in common speach, but it can be a pain when listening to a sentence that slowly dissappears into inaudibility.

    Also, regarding the subject, I think you didn’t emphasize using the lens cap enough. I often have seen photographers walking around with the camera swinging around on the shoulder, just walking along, talking to someone, with a naked front element exposed, as if they had to be ready for that next instantaneous photo op that might jump out at them. When that lens hits something hard, especially with a small hood or none, it ain’t gonna be good. If you’re not actively making images, put the lens cap on and, even if you have a soft drop, you probably won’t damage the front element, no matter what else goes wrong. And, unlike a filter, it won’t break and jam the broken pieces up against the front element.

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