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I have a Nikon D80 kit lens with a circular screw-on polariser filter. In order to remove the filter I might have to grip the lens quite hard, and the end of the lens might be moved about in the radial direction somewhat relative to the rest of the lens. I was wondering if this could cause damage to the lens.

A few years ago I took the camera and lens to a Greek island and noticed that a lot of my shots appeared soft, and with more chromatic aberration than normal. This seemed to persist for a while after I got back, but seems to be fine now, and I had forgotten about it. But could this have been caused somehow by my attempts to remove the filter at some earlier point? Maybe it caused an element in the lens to become slightly askew?

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I had another look at my pictures from around that time, and have come to the conclusion that the increase in chromatic aberration was probably just due to the bright sunlight. –  Brian Funt Apr 18 at 22:17

3 Answers 3

It's unlikely you caused damage if it spontaneously fixed itself. However, excessive heat may have caused expansion in the barrel that caused an element to shift, and once you left sunny climes, this expansion would have disappeared. Or it could be that you simply found yourself shooting wide open more often than you usually do.

If you find you need excessive force to remove a filter, you may simply be gripping it too tightly and warping it enough to make it impossible to unscrew. Consider getting a filter wrench.

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Your mention of gripping too tightly is probably correct. Recently when trying to take off the filter, instead of trying to unscrew it with 2 fingers, I used 4 spread out around the filter. Much less effort needed to unscrew! –  Brian Funt May 6 at 18:37

One possible reason is that the internal parts that allow the lens to auto focus were out of alignment or otherwise not working properly. This could give an inaccurate focus.

I encountered this problem with a 18-55 kit lens a few years ago. The front end of the lens would get knocked one way or another while transporting it loose in my backpack. When I tried to use the autofocus, I could hear the motor try to work but the lens wouldn't move. If I was rough with the lens, zooming back and forth to either extreme several times, I could get the autofocus system to engage and work properly. However, I would not recommend this technique.

Your best bet is to take it to a camera shop an have them diagnose the problem and then potentially fix it. In the future, I would recommend using a very small amount of lubricant on the lens filter threads to make it easier to take on and off.

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Unlikely. While it might be possible to damage a plastic lens by gripping it too hard (even that seems unlikely though), if you had damaged it, it would have remained damaged, not mysteriously improved. More likely there was some environmental cause (excessive humidity maybe) that resulted in poor focus (or possibly just user error). It is possible that the focus is rather loose and you've just been lucky not to have it miss lately, but I would expect at least some problems if that was the case.

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