Photography Tutorials and Articles

How to Clean a Lens

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Digital Camera Maintenance Part 2

How to Clean a Lens efficiently 

Glass is relatively hard and durable. However, when advanced coatings and other chemicals are added to the lens, it becomes a surface that’s more vulnerable to scratches and damage from chemicals and contact. Because of this, we want to try to keep our lenses and filters free of fingerprints and dirt, and avoid repeated physical interaction—this includes touching the lenses and cleaning quite often as well.

When stored in your camera bag or on your shelf, always use front and rear lens caps to help keep your optics clean. But, when you use your gear, it’s going to get dirty. This cannot be avoided. Your lenses will benefit from an occasional cleaning of your camera bag innards, as dust and dirt will likely find a home inside your bag and attach itself to the lens.

clean a lens

Using Lens caps is the best way to protect your lenses

Always put cleaning solution on a cloth or tissue, rather than directly on a lens, and use it sparingly. This will prevent excess liquid from getting inside the camera cavity or lens, with potentially catastrophic results.

How to clean a lens

Dust is everywhere and everywhere is dust. It will get on and inside your lens. Lenses are manufactured in extremely clean factories, where manufacturers go to great lengths to eliminate dust from the environment. Even then, brand-new lenses may have dust between the lens elements.

Dust, however, is not the main enemy. A lens that sits on a shelf in your home for years and collects a thick layer of dust will, obviously, have image-quality issues. But a few specs of dust here and there, on or inside the lens will have no effect on image quality. A few specs of dust on or inside the lens will have no effect on image quality. That statement was intentionally repeated.

Basic lens cleaning tools are a blower, a microfibre cloth, and lens cleaning fluid.

Digital Camera Maintenance

This kit is all you need for digital camera maintenance

Use a blower or a brush to remove any dirt or grit first, then use a small amount of lens cleaning fluid on a clean tissue or cloth designed (such as Microfibre cloth) to clean lenses and gently wipe the surface of the lens or filter. Start from the centre of the lens and with circular motion wipe the lens towards the out rim. Use a dry area of the cloth (or a new tissue) to clean off any remaining residue. Working from the centre to the edge will move debris to the edges of the lens, away from the centre of the image circle, in the event the objects do not get removed.

When wiping, apply only enough pressure to remove the offending smudge.

Clean a lens

Blow the air to remove the dust

Cleaning a Lens

Clean the lens by applying the lens cleaner to the cloth and circular overlapping from centre to corner of the lens

Finally, you may clean your lens mounts (camera and lens) with a cloth and lens-cleaning solution. The digital contacts that allow the lens and camera to communicate can benefit from occasional cleaning. Be sure to use a different cloth from that used for the optics, as wiping a metal lens mount to clean it may leave tiny metal debris on the cloth that should never be introduced to the glass.

Digital SLR Mirrors

Don’t even think about cleaning the mirror in your DSLR.

Clean a Lens

Maybe, just maybe, you could consider using a handheld blower to move a few dust specs off, but canned air is too powerful. Mirrors have very fragile surfaces and I wouldn’t dream of getting near them with a standard lens cleaning solution or cloth.

Remember: the dirt in your viewing system isn’t going to show up on images. 

That is all for now. Our Digital Camera workshop for beginners starts on November 4. In this two part workshop we cover all the basics, plus more about digital camera maintenance.

Ted and the Omnilargess Team

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