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I bought a used Canon 28-135mm USM lens for cheap as a YOLO moment. The lens is lovely in all respects except for a few slight scuffs on the front elementphoto of lens with small scuff on the front element

I have indeed seen the lens rentals blog post with the smashed lens; mine isn't nearly as bad, but I'd like to use it for hiking in sunlight.

The lens has a soft/flared spot outside in direct sunlight. I got a lens hood for it to minimize this; what else can I do that doesn't involve replacing the front element?

See the soft/bright spot in the brown foliage of the palm tree:

picture of a palm tree with a soft/lower contrast/brighter area slightly off center

It's still a decent lens; I'm going to keep it in my bag as a backup.

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When I look closely, I can see scratches on your front element.

enter image description here

There is an old trick to deal with scratches on the front element to prevent lens flare.

Just take some black paint, or black marker, and fill in the scratch with black, then wipe off the excess. The tiny black line will not be visible in the final image. Less light will be reflected by the scratch and that will reduce any flare.

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    I recall this being done with India ink. The carbon black particles are opaque and very low reflectance, and the gum arabic carrier does a fine job of keeping the carbon where it's wanted. – Zeiss Ikon Aug 13 at 11:50
  • Hmmmmm I think I have a little india ink left over from an art project. Any tips on applying it? I am fully prepared to have to clean the lens once or twice if I miss. ;) – supertanker13 Aug 13 at 13:38
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You get lens flare like that when sunlight is directly hitting the lens, or bouncing inside a [cheap] hood.

Either the hood isn't doing its job properly - 3rd party ones are often far more reflective than the original manufacturer's - or you're just turned too far towards the sun for it to be effective.

A simple in-the-field method to provide additional shade is right there in your left hand… in fact it is your left hand ;)
Hold your hand up & in front of the lens until shadow falls on it - you can't really watch the shadow at the same time as your hand with the camera up to your face, but you will see the flare drop away as you get the position right.

Not part of the question, but - you could back off your exposure time a bit too; that's a bit on the over-exposed side for my liking.
I'd have gone for more like this...

enter image description here

Not magnificent on a small jpg, of course, & neither will it fix the flare, but at least we have some sky.

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  • Asker specifically mentioned a front element scratch, which will make this kind of flare much worse in any lighting condition. This offers no solution to the scratch. – Zeiss Ikon Aug 13 at 11:51
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    @ZeissIkon - thank you for your pedantry & downvote. The question was "what else can I do?" Not "How do I fix the scratch?" – Tetsujin Aug 13 at 12:18

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