You have finally bought the lens to support your budding photography hobby, now what? Do you just mount it and off you go? Before you get too giddy and reckless with your latest auxiliary purchase, there are things you need to do in order to get the most out of your brand new lenses.
In the world of photography, a lens is one of the most integral components of a camera. In fact, I will go out on a limb to say that they can, to an extent, be even more important than the brand of camera you have. You can have a really fancy shutter, yet without a good quality lens, you cannot maximize the beauty of an image. Therefore, congratulations to you for making a wise decision to invest in superior camera lenses!
And because everything camera does not come cheap, here are steps you should take to ensure you have either not been ripped off or you won’t do stupid things with your new lens, which can make any expert snapper cringe in horror. In other words, I want to protect your lens from you, Padawan shutterbug.
7 Things to do after buying lens
Inspect your merchandise
You should realize that a new item doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always flawless. More so if you bought it online, where an unscrupulous seller will try to pass off a second-hand item as brand new. Or, it could really be a new one, but you are unlucky enough to receive a lemon. But of course, you shouldn’t dismiss buying online altogether. So far, I haven’t encountered problems with digital marketplaces such as B&H and Adorama. You can even score great deals with such online purchases. In any case, though, you shouldn’t skip performing close inspection of your glass to avoid a costly mistake and cursing yourself to high heavens afterwards.
The lens mount allows you to change lenses, and is attached to the camera. When you see traces of dirt on this part, that’s a dead giveaway that it is not in a new condition. On the other hand, it may appear clean but you will notice some metal mount scratches which would indicate an attempt to remove dirt from the lens. Either way, your lens will scream USED.
rear lens glass element
Another part that can indicate usage would be the rear lens glass. It is typically made of tough aluminum silicon, but some hairline scratches will appear if this is no longer brand new. It is a crucial part in the final creation of an image so it should be free from any damage, otherwise, it will affect the picture output. I don’t want to find you banging your head on the wall in regret just because you didn’t check your stuff.
front lens element
Similarly, I would inspect the front lens for any issue such as dirt and scratches. But unlike the rear lens, the front lens may tolerate minor dirt without affecting the image quality, However, it should alarm you if you find plastic bits or large particles on this portion. If you do, request for an immediate replacement or refund from your seller. Don’t forget to look for any damage on the lens barrel as well.
Wipe off the grease
It is not uncommon for brand new lenses to have a certain amount of grease on some of its parts, for good reason. This acts as a lubricant which allows the user to facilitate mounting and dismounting this piece from your camera body. It also avoids eroding the metal parts that are frequently in contact with one another. It is present mostly on the rear mount and connectors of your lenses.
While grease is somewhat harmless per se, too much of it however will attract undesirable elements such as dirt and dust. Their mix may wreak havoc, which you will notice with the presence of particles in the grease, that may affect the communication between the lens and camera. As such, you should be able to wipe them off your rear lens cap, lens mount, and contacts to avoid this situation.
How to remove excess grease
- Dab some alcohol onto a microfiber cloth
- Wipe gently your rear lens mount, contacts, and rear lens cap
- Avoid contact with the rear glass element
- Use a blower to remove remaining particles on the rear cap
- Place your rear lens cap back to its place
Protect with a filter
Do your lens a favor and protect it with the help of UV filters. They will make it easy for you to clean your lens without risk of scratching it. It served me well when I was navigating my way through a dense forest in search of a perfect spot for a shoot. It protected my lens such that I ended up just replacing the filter, which took a lot of beating while keeping my lens scratch-free.
Another benefit of having a clear filter as lens protection is ensuring my front lens element does not have those nasty thread fluff from the cleaning cloth that tends to stick particularly on my Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. Such stuff can be so stubborn that it’s difficult to take them off without leaving more threads anew. With a filter in place, it just needs a simple swipe across the spot and you’re done - thread no more.
You must note however that not all filters alike. In this case, you would want to buy a quality filter which may be more on the expensive side but definitely worth the money. I use B+W filters - Multi-Coated (MRC) F-Pro series Nano type to be exact, because they don’t degrade the quality of images like a cheap filter would.
Take it for a spin
You’ve been holding out for too long , it’s time to put your lens into action! Take all the pictures you want from close-ups to medium and long shots using the same subject. You can also experiment with different aperture settings. Afterwards, review your pictures, rinse, and repeat, so to speak. If you continue to find images that are out of focus, it may be attributed to a focus issue with your lens. You should contact your seller or manufacturer who will be able to do fine tuning and calibration to solve this problem.
Use a post-processing software to address lens issues
You may encounter lenses with vignetting and distortion concerns which can be corrected with the help of programs such as the latest version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. It has a “Lens Correction” feature that takes care of such problems automatically for most lens types. In case your particular lens is not supported, you can still perform corrective measures manually through the software.
But then again, it is still important to note what is actually a limitation of your lenses, especially if you’re dealing with more complex issues that a pro would usually look into, such as excessive chromatic aberration, field curvature, decentered lens elements, among others. I recommend that you also refer to other comments and reviews of seasoned photogs before you cry foul with your lens.
Register your product
To activate your warranty, you must register your newly bought lens with your manufacturer, may it be Nikon or any brand. This will also facilitate communication in case there are product recalls, repairs, and other important notifications. What’s great about this process is you can view all your camera-related purchases from Nikon for example, in one portal, giving you added confidence in your product’s quality and support whenever necessary.
Now for the real test: use your lens with your camera as often as you can. As they say, practice makes perfect, and in time, you will shoot like the pros do. This way, you will be able to exploit the capabilities of your camera by producing even better images using your lenses.
You must remember though, that there is no such thing as a perfect product, and a lens is not an exception. But some types, especially high-quality ones, can be close. Performing the above steps will help ensure you have made the right purchase and at the same time, allow you to enjoy the benefits it will bring to your newfound passion in photography.