How Tough Are Canon Lenses?

If you’re like most photographers on a budget, you’re instinctively protective of your camera lenses. They seem so delicate. They are meticulously cleaned with air blowers and special microfiber cloths. They are gently placed into padded camera bags. But is all this doting really necessary? Exactly how much abuse can lenses take?

Richard Choi had a non-functioning Canon 50mm f/1.8 II camera lens decided to experiment with the strength of the lens. Here’s his attempt at breaking the glass:

The 50mm f/1.8 lens is wildly popular, thanks to its affordable price tag, wide aperture, and sharp focus. Despite its low cost, Canon doesn’t seem to scrimp on the glass’s durability.

This particular video demonstrates that Canon’s glass is fairly strong, even in a relatively inexpensive lens. Similar videos can be found with varying effort and intensity going into smashing the lens, but all seem to show that it takes a bit of work to break the Nifty Fifty’s glass.


So, do you really need to be so careful with your gear? Maybe not, but you probably shouldn’t try this at home.

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6 responses to “How Tough Are Canon Lenses?”

  1. Dana says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I still involuntarily cringed every time he hit it.

  2. I’m surprised the 50 could take that kind of direct abuse to the glass without breaking. I accidentally dropped an 85mm from approximately 4 feet onto the floor and only cracked the ND filter on front. The lens has a metal housing, so it is able to withstand some abuse. The 50, on the other hand, being plastic, may or may not be as damage-resistant. The lens in the video is reportedly not working, so there’s no way to tell if the repeated strikes would have damaged the auto focus mechanisms inside. I wouldn’t test it on a usable lens.

  3. Julius says:

    Don’t try this at home…hehehe

  4. Jim says:

    I dropped a zoom lens from my dining room table to the parquet floor, it seemed to work ok and still works to this day.
    Maybe I was lucky.

  5. John Deir says:

    You now can get this lens on eBay.

  6. AM says:

    A good demonstration on why there should always be a UV filter in front of the element.

    And, in many cases, why you should also use lens hoods.

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