How To Clean Your Lens

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No matter how careful you are, sooner or later, your lens will get dirty. The first time you contemplate cleaning your lens can be very daunting as we found out a few days ago. Hopefully this guide can help you with the different options you have in getting your lens back to its pristine condition.

Blowers

Tour first line of attack should always be air. It’s the least invasive of all your cleaning options since no contact is made with your glass. There are several blowers available in the market today that are specifically designed for camera lenses such as Giottos AA1900 Large Rocket Blaster. These are designed with air valves that prevent dust from getting into the air chamber so that the air it blows out is clean. If you ask me though, anything that can blow out non-pressurized air is good enough to get dust off your glass such as an empty water spray as long as you aim the lens downward when you blow air onto it.

Brushes and Cloth

If you can’t get the dust out with a blower then you can try using brushes. This is where you will definitely need to get one specifically made for lenses to avoid leaving scratch marks.

If you’re dealing with something more than dust such as fingerprints or smudges then you will need to resort to cleaning cloths such as Pec*Pad Photowipes. Cleaning cloths for lenses are usually made out of microfiber which are lint free and designed not to leave marks on your glass. However, before wiping your lens with a cleaning cloth, you will first need to get all the dust out by first using either a blower or a brush. Dust can leave marks or scratch the coating on your lens if its rubbed in hard enough.

Cleaning Solutions

If the smudge is still there after attempting to remove it with a cleaning cloth then you will need to use a cleaning solution. The best one that we can find that most pros use is the Eclipse Cleaner System. This fluid is specially formulated for lenses and is fast drying and residue-free. If you can’t find this particular brand then make sure the one you get will not damage the coating on your lens.

Personally, I would choose not to use any cleaning fluids on any of my lenses. I’m always worried that the fluid might seep in between the glass the the front mount of the lens and get inside the barrel itself. I would rather bring the lens to a service center if a cleaning cloth can’t get the dirt out.

We’re giving a special shout out for the Nikon Lens Pen Cleaning System. We just recently received the Canon EFS 55-250mm lens (which we will be reviewing in the next few articles) and we were taking it out for a spin when Lisa accidentally touched the glass and left a fingerprint on it. My beautiful wife’s graceful hands’ fingertips are surprisingly oily. The smudge looked really bad and we were already thinking of bringing it in for servicing when we came across the Nikon Lens Pen on Amazon.com.

The pen itself has a retractable brush on one end and a felt tip on the other. We first started with the brush to remove all the dust on the glass and then started working on the fingerprint with the felt tip. Amazingly, we were able to completely remove the smudge after three passes. We definitely recommend this product as it is both cheap and compact. Our only beef with it though is they should have made a cap for the brush side. But taking into consideration the user reviews on different websites, this seems like the best lens pen option.


Needless to say, we’ve already gone through all our lenses and they’re all brand spanking new clean.

Some Additional Notes on Lens Care

  • Prevention is always the best way to care for your lens. Always leave the dust cap on when storing your camera or use a UV filter or lens hood.
  • Avoid using cotton swabs to clean your lens since these can leave cotton fibers when you sweep it across the glass.
  • If you get your fingerprint on your lens, immediately remove it from the camera body. The heat from the camera can literally cook the oils in the print and make it near impossible to remove.
  • If you have a big collection of lenses, try using each one at least once every two weeks since believe it or not, it can grow fungus from non-use even if it’s stored in a dry box. Fungus is one of the few things that can literally kill your lens.

Related Posts:
Lens 101
How to Protect Your Lens

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