The lens is one of the most important parts of your camera. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to get the shots you want. To keep your lens in top condition long-term, you might be wondering if you should invest in a lens protector.
Lens protectors are not necessary in most cases. If you properly store your camera and don’t take pictures in harsh environmental conditions, just keeping your lens clean and being careful is enough to keep your camera’s lens safe. However, if you travel a lot with your camera, you might want one.
If you’re on the fence about whether or not you need a camera lens protector, then keep reading. By the time you’re done with this article, you’ll know what lens protectors actually do and when you need one.
What Does a Camera Lens Protector Do?
When you think of a camera lens protector, you might think of the plastic caps you’d often find on video camera lenses decades ago.
While technically, these were a type of lens protector, that’s not what people typically refer to now.
Those lens protectors kept the glass of a camera lens safe only when it wasn’t being used.
People often carried their cameras by their hand straps, and protective camera bags weren’t quite as popular or easily accessible as they are today.
To keep your camera lens safe while it was put away, you would apply the little plastic cap.
However, there was nothing to protect your camera lens while you were using it.
It’s a bit like how a laptop case is meant to keep your computer safe while it’s closed and put away, but it obviously can’t do much while you’re actively using your laptop.
Instead, a modern lens protector is much more multi-functional.
These protectors are typically small pieces of either thin glass, plastic, or film that you stick to your lense to keep it safe.
Since these lenses have an adhesive side that is meant to stick to your lens surface indefinitely, they’re transparent, so you can still have full use of your camera.
If you’ve ever gone through putting a protective film on a phone screen, you might wonder why someone would go through the headache of meticulously applying a protector on a camera lens.
A camera lens protector acts as a shield so dust, dirt, or other pieces of debris can’t scratch your lens directly, thus protecting it and the integrity of your future photos.
Camera lenses can be expensive and sometimes even impossible to replace, regardless of whether it’s an attached lens or the one that comes with your camera.
If you damage the lens directly on your camera, you can’t take any pictures until it’s repaired, as any other lens attachments you use will still use your original lens glass.
In some cases, if you use a thicker lens protector, it can also protect your camera lens from shattering if you were to drop it or your camera.
Do You Need a Camera Lens Protector for a Mobile Camera?
Gone are the days when people had a separate camera they brought along to capture moments.
Of course, people still do traditional camera photography. Still, almost everyone has a camera on their phone now, which means that’s what they usually reach for to take pictures and videos.
On the one hand, when people carried digital or film cameras around, they were often kept in protective bags when they weren’t in use.
Some digital cameras even had a built-in plastic protector that would automatically retract when the camera was turned on to be used.
These both kept cameras safe the majority of the time. The only time when your camera was at risk for damage was when it was out and being used.
This is still the case for people who use traditional cameras for photography today. On the other hand, having everything you need on your phone, including a camera, has made life much more convenient and has made capturing moments in picture form easier.
However, since people’s phones are almost constantly out and being used, they’re exposed to the elements much more often, which means your phone’s lens has more chances of getting damaged.
Most phone cases also deliberately avoid covering the mobile camera lens because it would be too inconvenient to have to continuously remove your phone case to take a picture of something.
All of this might make you wonder if you need a lens protector for your mobile camera’s lens to keep it safe from damage.
You don’t need a lens protector for your mobile camera lens in most cases. The glass of your camera lens is designed to be durable, so it won’t scratch or shatter easily, especially if you have a phone case that will buffer any damage if your phone is dropped.
The people designing phones know that their users use them at all hours of the day and in all conditions.
They also know that, while a phone’s camera is an important feature, if the lens gets damaged, that might not be enough of a problem to cause them to buy a new one or pay to get it repaired.
Because of this, phone cameras are designed to have thicker lenses compared to traditional cameras because they have to withstand more exposure to the world.
You might not be able to take as many professional pictures as you might with other cameras, but that’s the trade-off for having something more durable.
The only situation when you might want to consider putting a lens protector on your phone camera is if you don’t like having a phone case on your phone.
That’s because, while it might be unlikely, your camera could shatter if you drop your phone without a case acting as a buffer so that a protector can absorb some of that damage.
Otherwise, you likely won’t have to worry about your lens shattering if that’s your concern because its glass is stronger than the glass on your phone’s screen.
You likely won’t have to worry about debris scratching your camera lens unless you routinely take pictures in weather conditions like wind, where particles will be flying around.
This is also the case if you have a habit of leaving your phone in sand or submerged in rough material.
When Do You Need a Camera Lens Protector?
While most people don’t need camera lens protectors for either traditional or mobile cameras, there are some cases when having one might be worth it for you.
You will need a camera lens protector if you take a lot of outdoor photos or travel with your camera outside of a camera bag often. You’ll also want a lens protector if you think it’s possible that you might be rough with your camera.
Shooting outside, particularly in extreme conditions, will increase your camera’s likelihood of getting scratched.
That’s because even the most minor pieces of debris can damage your lens if it’s exposed to those conditions for long periods of time.
If you use a regular camera for your photos and typically take pictures outside, investing in a lens protector might be worth it, even if you tend to be careful with your camera as accidents sometimes happen.
On the other hand, if you travel with your camera in a case, clean your lens regularly, and mostly take pictures indoors or in calm weather conditions, you can likely skip buying a protector.
How To Keep Your Lens Safe Without a Protector
You might still be worried about your camera lens, even if you usually don’t take photos in conditions that are more likely to cause damage to your camera.
However, if you’re worried that your occasional camping trip or beach day photos will cause you to scratch your camera lens, know that even this damage can be mitigated.
All you have to do is make sure to take proper care of your camera. To protect your lens without a specific lens protector, follow the tips below.
Clean Your Camera Regularly
Whenever you notice your camera is smudged, clean it with a camera lens wipe and a little bit of cleaning solution if necessary.
It’s also best to do this every time you take your camera out before you start shooting and before you put it away again. That way, you can make sure you wipe away any small grains or particles that might be resting on the glass that could rub and cause scratches.
Use the Right Supplies To Clean Your Lens
To protect your lens, you should also make sure you only use fabric designed for camera lenses or glasses when you clean your camera. That means don’t use your shirt or a piece of paper towel. They’re not designed to clean glass surfaces.
Even though these types of fabric might feel soft or smooth, they have tiny texture patterns that will get scratched into glass over time.
Use a Camera Case
Keeping your camera in a camera case when you’re not actively using it for pictures is one of the best ways to keep it safe.
Though it might be a hassle to carry an extra bag when you could just put your camera in your regular travel bag or backpack, those bags aren’t usually designed to protect this sort of technological device.
Camera bags are specifically designed to be padded and are made out of material that won’t damage your camera lens. That way, your lens won’t get cracked or shattered by being jostled while transporting it.
Make Sure Your Camera Bag Is Clean and Closed
Camera bags will keep your lenses safe, but they’re useless if you don’t use them properly.
Make sure your camera bag is fully closed so nothing else can get into it and damage your camera or its lens.
It’s also essential to make sure your camera is the only thing in your camera bag.
Empty out any dust, dirt, or other types of debris, so they don’t rub against your camera and scratch the lens without you knowing.
Do Camera Lens Protectors Affect Your Picture’s Quality?
Maybe you’ve decided that a camera lens protector is a right choice for you and how you take pictures, but you might be wondering if putting a protector on your camera will affect your photographs.
A camera lens protector won’t affect the quality of your pictures if you apply it correctly and carefully. If you notice your protector starting to lift or bubble in places, then replace it immediately.
To put a camera lens protector in the correct way, you have to make sure your camera lens is clean and dry.
If your lens is dirty, any grime on it will be trapped under your lens protector, affecting the quality of future photos.
The same can be said if your lens is wet in any way. Moisture will be trapped under the protective layer, which will cause it to bubble and fog, so your photos won’t be crisp or clear.
Before peeling off the adhesive cover on your lens protector, make sure you know how to apply it, so you don’t make any mistakes.
That means following any instructions your specific protector might have, making sure it’s cut to the correct size for your lens, and you know the placement you’ll need in order to make sure your lens is evenly covered.
Once on, smooth your cover gently so you can work any air bubbles to the edges of the protector. That way, they won’t cause any issues with your photos.
While these are simple steps, they shouldn’t be rushed. Once you remove a lens protector, it will lose some of its adhesive glue, making it less sticky and effective.
Not only that, but by leaving your lens protector out, you’ll increase the likelihood that other particles like dust or hair will stick to it.
If that happens, it will make your protector useless because it will cause your lens to be scratched by the debris underneath it.
Lens protectors aren’t always necessary. The average person likely doesn’t need one unless they intend to take photos in extreme conditions or plan on being rough or careless with their camera.
Although you can take steps to keep your lens pristine without a protector, if getting one will give you peace of mind, there’s no harm in applying one. Just make sure you do it correctly.