Here’s a little mini post for you. I’ve been getting questions about this quite a bit recently.
This is something that we all need to do, and there is a right and wrong way to clean your lens.
Our lenses actually have coatings on them. These coatings help with creating good looking images. The problem though, is that these coatings are quite delicate and need to be handled with great care.
NEVER, EVER ATTEMPT TO CLEAN A LENS WITH YOUR SHIRT, WITH A PAPER TOWEL, OR ANYTHING NOT MADE FOR COATED OPTICS!!!
You will scratch your lens if you do this. If you wear eye glasses, the same rules apply. It just kills me when I see someone put a dry paper towel on their glasses to clean them. You will get hundreds of tiny scratches in the coatings of your glasses.
You need to get a good lens cleaning kit. They are not expensive at all. This is a kit from Amazon that has everything you need for under $15.
When looking for a good lens cleaning kit – it must say that it’s for camera lenses specifically, OR that it is made for optics that have coatings on them. This is very important. DO NOT USE GLASS CLEANERS. They can ruin the coatings on your lenses.
Here is what you need:
- lens cleaning fluid made for photography lenses, or it must say for optics that have coatings on them
- a blower device that will let you hit the lens with gentle blasts of air – not canned air!
- a lens brush can be handy
- micro-fiber cloths
Some of these kits, like the one below comes with “lens cleaning paper”. I never use these. I’ve scratched lenses before with these kinds of tissues, so I always use the micro fiber fabrics instead.
Please Note: There is something called a “lens cleaning pen”. I also never use these – I do NOT want anything stiff or rigid touching the lens. So in the kit you see below, I do not use the lens pen, or the lens paper. I use the other items.
This is my Amazon link – should you choose to purchase this item, I will get a few pennies at no cost to you.
HOW TO CLEAN YOUR LENSES PROPERLY
- Take your lens off of your camera. You need to be able to look at your lens from all angles when cleaning it, and leaving it attached to your camera will not help.
- First thing to do is use the little bulb blower – there are some that are called air rockets or air blasters, and those work great too. Use the blower to get any large debris off of your lens. Really spend time with this first part. Any debris left on the lens can scratch it with the next steps.
- If there is any debris still on the lens, then very gently use the lens brush – not the pen but actual brush with bristles to try to get the debris off the lens. Do not apply pressure. Very gently just sweep the brush to see if you can get rid of the debris
- Now, if at this point there is still debris that you can see on your lens – let’s say you dropped it in sand – I would stop the process and take it in to your camera store, or to the manufacturer for a professional cleaning.
- Ok, if you have successfully removed any debris that you can see, now we are ready for using the liquid cleaner.
- Never spray your lens directly with the cleaner! Spray the micro-fiber cloth with cleaner. You do not want any cleaning fluid getting at the edges of the lens and seeping into the lens. Do not saturate the cloth. Too much liquid could made streaks on your lens.
- Very gently wipe the lens with your sprayed micro-fiber cloth. You are not using a lot of pressure here. Do not grind the cloth onto the lens surface.
- If you are trying to remove a thumbprint, the thumbprint will contain the oil from your skin, so you might need to do a few passes with the sprayed micro-fiber cloth.
- If your cloth is too wet, and has left a streak, wait for the cloth to dry. Then just put on a little bit of spray on the cloth, and attempt to clean off the streak.
It really is a delicate procedure, but as you get used to doing this, you will learn the right amount of spray on your cloth, and pressure to use on your lenses.
If you are photographing a liquid that will be splashing – put on a high quality UV filter on your lens to protect it. You must clean the filter in the same manner so that you don’t scratch it.
There you have it. Let me know if you have any questions.
Want some great food photography tips? Check out my ebooks all about food photography.
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