Podcast Episode

The Lensrentals Podcast Episode #60 – Ask Lensrentals: Lens Inspection, Filters, and Repair Reliability

Published June 23, 2022

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.

Ask Lensrentals: Lens Inspection, Filters, and Repair Reliability

In this week’s episode, we sit down with Roger and Joey as they answer some of our listener’s questions. And they cover a lot, from how Speedboosters work, to the benefits of various lens filters, and even touch on what the inspection process is when we receive a lens returned from a rental.

Roger and Joey are among the most knowledgable on staff when it comes to optics, and the Lensrentals process, so we’re excited to have them back in the studio to answer your questions. Have a question you’d like to ask for our next Ask Lensrentals episode? Feel free to ask all your questions here.

Gear Mentioned In this Episode:


0:25 – On this week’s episode Joey and Roger are answering photo-related listener questions

0:45 – First question: what is the rationale for buying or renting an f/1.4 prime lens that costs double or triple what an equivalent f/1.8 lens from the same manufacturer costs?

1:25 – Roger notes that adjusting ISO now has a far less-noticeable noise penalty than it did a few years ago.

2:20 – While sometimes there’s not much reason to go with an f/1.4, occasionally manufacturers skimp on their f/1.8 lenses. The quality difference just depends on the particular lens.

3:00 – Joey and Roger agree, though, that in most cases and f/1.8 is the better buy for the money.

4:00 – Second question: what is the quantifiable benefit of modern multi-coating vs., say, that of the mid-80s?

4:15 – Roger argues that modern coatings offer numerous benefits, though they might not always be as durable as we’d like.

7:15 – Third question: do people actually buy the empty boxes you sell on LensAuthority?

7:30 – Absolutely! Our empty boxes sell all the time for any number of reasons.

8:00 – Fourth question: are Speedboosters a good idea?

8:20 – Joey and Roger explain the basic concept behind Speedboosters, which are essentially flipped teleconverters.

8:45 – They used to be very iffy in terms of optical quality and lens/camera communication, but they’ve gotten a lot better.

10:30 – Fifth question: what checks do you do on a new lens before you send it out.

10:40 – Joey describes all the inspection steps in order, which is a pretty long list.

12:20 – Roger notes that, while not all of these tests are things people could recreate at home, a lot of them are simple physical examinations. Most of the problems we catch can be found just by looking closely at the lens.

14:30 – It’s important to establish a “spec” to evaluate each particular lens. Our testing doesn’t necessarily determine if a lens is perfect, just that it’s meeting the standards it was designed for. A cheap plastic lens will always be softer than a top-of-the-line lens, so we have to test multiple copies to determine what the standard is.

17:30 – Joey explains what kinds of tests we do using the MTF machine.

19:30 – Break

20:25 – Sixth question: which filters do you like best for lens protection and why?

20:45 – Our options might be more limited than the average consumer because we have to source so many.

21:00 – It’s also not as simple as answering which brand is the best. Many brands have great high-end filter models but terrible low-end ones.

22:50 – Seventh question: which camera manufacturers have the best repair reliability?

23:30 – In short, no manufacturer is perfect when it comes to repairing options. Joey and Roger outline the various issues with each, many of which are due to outsourcing.

27:15 – Last question: how long do you rent a lens before it gets retired? What influences your decision to retire a lens?

27:25 – We have a set ceiling of time that we don’t break except for special cases like a popular lens no longer being manufactured.

27:45 – The time period is kind of arbitrary, but it keeps us from having to make too many subjective decisions about whether a lens is still “ok” to rent.

31:10 – That’s all for this week! Joey wraps up the episode by describing Roger’s indecipherable riddle of a t-shirt.

The Lensrentals Podcast is a production of Lensrentals, founded by Roger Cicala. Our production staff includes Drew Cicala, Ryan Hill, Sarah McAlexander, 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
  • Athanasius Kirchner

    This was one of your best episodes, it was amazing! I’m very excited for the next one.

  • Henry Winokur

    Great show, guys. Thanks for all the good info (as usual). ?

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