I bought an expensive lens which I would like to aesthetically protect in order to keep its resale value high. This means that I want to minimize the chances of any scuffing, scraping, or scratching.

There are different parts of the lens which is usually exposed to the environment: the front glass, the lens body (usually made out of plastic or metal), and the zoom ring (usually made out of rubber).

To protect the front glass, I am using a good (B+W) UV filter. This prevents any scratches from appearing on the front, so that should be fine. I am mainly looking for suggestions to protect the body and the zoom rings.

For the body, I found some dbrand vinyl and was able to put some of it on the body. It worked really nicely, was easy to remove, and didn't leave any residue. However, it is relatively expensive compared to just buying some black 3M vinyl and sticking it on. I haven't been able to find what type of vinyl 3M uses, so what are some 3M materials that I could use which would be easy to remove and not leave any adhesive behind?

For the zoom and focus rings, I know that they whiten after some use, and I'd like to keep them looking new. I have found band.it which is a thicker zoom ring that you can put over your current zoom and focus rings. Is there anything less expensive, perhaps a DIY option, that I can use? (I don't think putting 3M vinyl on it would be a great idea)

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    "easy to remove, and didn't leave any residue" Try that again in 6 months or a year. Very very few 'sticker glues' are stable over time. The usual pattern is that first they soften towards a liquid state, when things start to move & slip, the glue layer becoming more attracted to your object than the original surface; then after even longer, they dry out completely, turning into a kind of hard plastic. By that point, its adhesion to the original vinyl is almost non-existent & to your object almost total.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 26 '19 at 14:47
  • Hmm, that's interesting. I know that at least dbrand prides itself in not leaving any residue behind. I myself have removed these skins after extended periods of time (six months to a year) without seeing any residue, and have seen a plethora of comments from people online saying they've had the same experience with phones, cameras, etc. To be fair, however, I'm not sure how if the coating of the lens (24-70 L II) would fare differently.
    – anon
    Dec 26 '19 at 14:53
  • If it's really that expensive, you may be paying for one of the 'very few' stable glues.
    – Tetsujin
    Dec 26 '19 at 14:56
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    I can't think of anything that could be used without risking a similar or more severe adulteration than normal use without the measure. Lenses are much tougher than we give them credit for...what types of environments will you be in that have you so worried?
    – OnBreak.
    Jan 23 '20 at 7:31
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    @SkeletonBow I'm currently sitting on a 300mm f/4L that is failing to sell at $340. Lenses make good tools...they're hardly liquid assets. Keep that in mind if you do go to sell...Cheers,
    – OnBreak.
    Jan 23 '20 at 17:47

First, being 'careful' with your lense will prolong it's 'pretty' look for a long while. In College, a pro-shooter for a local paper was surprised to hear my Canon "L" was 5 years old- it didn't have a scratch on it.

Lenses get dirty and scuffed because they are used. You don't throw them around, but they do get banged in if you're switching cameras, and most photographers working in PJ (Photo Journalism) don't have the time to make sure everything is padded.

Onto your question: Buy Neoprene sleeve 'wraps' that go around the lense. Buy B+W filters (usually their most expensive) to protect the front elements. Ensure that the body is wiped down in dusty conditions, and that it is stored in a non-condensing humidity environment.

If you go in and out in the winter you may want to look into the needs for that.

Ultimately a lense is used. They're not investments and they lightly depreciate with time- good lenses hold some value. I resold a 13 year L lense for 75% of the purchase price- whereas the digital body was worth 1/20th the price.

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    Yes, if you are a careful person they don't need extra protection (except maybe a UV filter, I use B+W also). All my lenses look like new, some are 10 years old. Keep your camera+lens in a bag when you aren't using it. Don't let your extra lenses touch each other when they are in the bag, that's why camera bags have dividers.
    – Mattman944
    Dec 25 '19 at 13:34
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    Good advise, thank you. That’s right about the depreciation—this lens (the L series zoom) hasn’t gone down in price much, but the used 5D Mark IV has already lost a couple hundred in value over a few months…
    – anon
    Dec 25 '19 at 13:49

Put the lens in a hermetically sealed, lead lined cask. Seal the cask in a pure nitrogen environment. Bury it at least 60 feet underground in a moisture controlled vault.

Or you can use the lens to actually take pictures.

And why spend a ton of money on excellent glass and then place a flat filter in front of it? It's probably not as much protection as you think it is, and in some situations can actually be a liability. Yes, if you're shooting in sand, sea spray, a windstorm in a desert, or an industrial environment with grinders and hot metal particles flying around and such, it makes sense to put a "protective filter' on it. Otherwise, you're just giving back that last 3-5% of performance that you spent a 5-10X premium on.

To filter or not to filter (for lens "protection"), that is the question.

Half the rest of that stuff you're talking about doing may extend the life of some parts. But they could also cause them to harden and crack prematurely, or change the cosmetic finish underneath them over time. If you're worried about the eventual resale value, buy an extra set of rubber zoom/focus rings and store them properly until you're ready to sell the lens.

"Protecting" your lens is what a good photo equipment insurance policy is for.

  • 1
    I guess I forgot to mention that I’m a college student and didn’t want to spend, or lose too much more money than necessary, hence the desire to not buy anything extraneous. And I’m okay with the 1-2% image degradation with a UV filter (it’s a B+W filter) if it’ll protect the resale value of my lens.
    – anon
    Dec 25 '19 at 11:25
  • Some weather sealed lenses actually require the UV filter to finalize the weather sealing. They are not weather sealed without the UV filter.
    – juhist
    Dec 25 '19 at 12:51
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    I agree with Michael. The resale value has already dropped because it's out of the box, no matter how pretty you keep it. The chances of damage which further affect that value are low, and when you offset that against the money (and time!) you're spending on protection, the return on investment is low.
    – mattdm
    Dec 25 '19 at 16:15
  • @SkeletonBow As the answer points to, some types of "protection" can be liabilities in certain circumstances. A thin, flat filter, for instance, will shatter (and likely scratch the front element) long before a thicker front element made of harder material and shaped like the end of an egg will. And you lose "only" that 1-2% under perfect laboratory conditions and ideal lighting. The first time you have a strong source of lighting inside an otherwise mostly dark frame, you'll discover what ghosting is. Or veiling flare when the light source is right at the edge of the image circle...
    – Michael C
    Dec 26 '19 at 10:01
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    Okay. I still encourage you to not worry so much. Use the lens hood and the chance of scratches is very low. And part of the reason these lenses are so expensive is that they're built to be durable.
    – mattdm
    Dec 26 '19 at 16:35