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My lens broke somehow. I didn't drop it as far as I remember, but the cause of the drop isn't really the point... a part of my lens broke, and my lens cap is stuck to it. Is my lens a goner? Can I buy a replacement for the specific part or will I have to fork out the near $400 to replace it? Where is the best place to cry?

This is a Nikon D90 with an AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm 1:3.5-5.6 G II ED

enter image description here

broken lens

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    it looks too flat to be a front lens element, it might be a UV filter. Can you post a picture of the actual from of the lens itself? – LightBender Jan 20 at 20:27
  • Agree with @LightBender, here's an image of the front element of that lens (from this page). It looks much thicker than what you have – Saaru Lindestøkke Jan 20 at 20:29
  • Added! The broken glass is pretty thick. – HoneyPhantomhive Jan 20 at 20:36
  • It's a protective filter. Assuming the threads on the lens are undamaged, the filter can be replaced for minimal cost- as low as $10 on Amazon. Check the outside rim to find the size, manufacturer, and whether it's a UV or plain filter. – BobT Jan 21 at 15:21
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It looks like you just broke an UV filter. The metal rim may have warped a bit and this is why your lens cap is stuck. You can try to pry it out but you can also replace it.

But you may want to inspect the rest of the lens. The (real) front lens may have scratches caused by the glass shards from the filter (*), and the filter thread may be damaged. You can also check the lens for focus or alignment issues. Tape a newspaper image to a flat surface and take a shot (tripod or very high speed, with the optical stabilizer disabled) trying to be as perpendicular as possible to the surface. Then pixel-peep the result, looking for dissymetries in the focus. Then do the same at low speed with the stabilizer activated.

If the results aren't good, repeat with another lens, to see if the problem is in with the lens or with the mount in the camera body that became misaligned.

You can also get a rough idea of alignment problems with a spirit level:

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The bottom of the camera is flat and parallel to the lens axis. I'm using a L-bracket with the other branch flat on the kitchen counter (which is horizontal, according to the spirit level). So the rim of the lens should be horizontal too, which can be checked with the spirit level is two perpendicular directions.

You can also check the parallelism of the two sides of the lens in a similar way.

(*) This is an unfortunate example of why having an UV filter permanently on the lens can do more harm than good.

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It looks like the actual lens elements are ok, but the filter on the front was damaged. It also looks like the threading for the filters might have been damaged on the lens as well.

These are the actual elements in that lens. The main front element is recessed.

That being said, any hit hard enough to damage a lens in that manner could have damaged the internals of the lens, most likely knocking elements out of alignment. If the front element shown in that diagram looks undamaged, you should be able to take a few pictures and see if everything looks ok.

At the very least, there is a chance the damage is merely cosmetic and the functional elements of the lens are undamaged, but I would recommend taking it to your local camera shop and have one of their pros take a look at it in person.

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  • It does look like it is taking pictures as normal. They don't seem to be distorted at all. What is the part that broke called? It is my school's camera, so it will likely need to be replaced anyhow. – HoneyPhantomhive Jan 20 at 20:53
  • it's a UV filter (probably) should say so on the threading around the edge – LightBender Jan 20 at 20:59
  • @HoneyPhantomhive specifically, a "UV filter" is not part of a lens. It's a lens accessory. You say the camera and lens belongs to the school. The school probably slapped a UV filter on the lens as basic lens protection (kinda like a phone screen protector) because they knew students would beat them up to one degree or another. – scottbb Jan 20 at 21:28

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