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02-26-2013, 12:59 AM   #1
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Lens cleaning recommendations

Hello all,

Being involved in photography for over 25 years, I am almost embarrassed to ask this question.

I am experiencing quite a challenge with cleaning lenses. Whenever I attempt to clean a lens, I am always left with smears (often worse than before I started). Yes, I know one should avoid cleaning lenses whenever possible but there are times that they need to be cleaned.

When I was in high school I used to use lens cleaning tissue and a cleaning liquid and it always seemed to work well. Now days, I have expensive microfibre cloths (one branded Pentax), special lens cleaning pens, optic grade cotten swabs, and they just don't seem to work... I even use 91% isopropyl alcohol (it leaves a worse greasy residue). What the heck am I doing wrong?

What works well? Money is absolutely not an issue for this situation.

Also, I am seriously suffering from a household dust problem as well, can anyone recommend a good dust eliminator? My office has hardwood floors and yet it seems to accumulate as much dust as if I had shag carpets!

Thank you all.

02-26-2013, 01:14 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I do it as follows:
1. Blow dust from the lens with a blower,
2. Take a normal prescription glass cloth that I got from my optometrist,
3. Spray a little "Wipe 'n Clear" eyeglass lens cleaner (for glass or plastic lenses), which contains isopropyl alcohol, and have an anti-static formula, on the cloth,
4. Start in the center of the lens and in circles, wipe outward, move to a dry part of the cloth before the moisture on the lens dries completely, and wipe the same way.
02-26-2013, 01:57 AM   #3
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For me, Ronsonol/Zippo lighter fluid on cotton buds works perfectly and leaves no smears, as opposed to isopropyl alcohol. For the rest of the time, a big Giottos blower should do.
02-26-2013, 03:03 AM   #4
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I found this B&H helpful. And I got my first real camera in 1965.

How to Clean Your Lens and Filters Properly | BH inDepth

02-26-2013, 04:39 AM   #5
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For me, I generally use a Kleenex tissue. Breath lightly on yhr lens and as others have described, use a circular motion to get the smudges off. Blow the remaining dust from the Kleenex off with a blower jbrush. For stubborn spots a lens pen works well.

I find some micro fibre cloths simply move the smudge around.
02-26-2013, 05:47 AM   #6
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For older, manual focus lenses I clean every second-hand lens as soon as I receive it, then I rarely need to do more than blow the dust off with a bulb blower or in extreme cases use a "lipstick tube" Lens Brush. I do have a small charge-neutral lens brush but it doesn't seem necessary.

I use Residual Oil Remover and Lens Cleaning Tissue, (one to clean and a second to gently dry) both available from B&H, using the method often taught. I don't use any kind of cloth on the glass at all. Lens caps are my friend.

I do use a thin cleaning cloth and ROR on the exterior of my cameras and lenses, which get amazingly dirty. I have very carefully used a solution of 1:3 Windex:water and a toothbrush tapped nearly dry to clean the rubber focusing ring on REALLY dirty lenses with gray rubber, then follow up with a VERY light pass with non-oily rubber restoring cream on a cleaning tissue.

I've never had to do all of that twice on a lens and rarely need to clean the glass a second time. Dust doesn't stick to non-oily surfaces well and the ROR neutralizes electrostatic charges, so the blower is all they need.

I haven't yet had to clean a DA lens.

Last edited by monochrome; 02-26-2013 at 10:05 AM.
02-26-2013, 07:53 AM   #7
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Skin oils are the worst, so I do everything possible to avoid touching an optical surface. Most of my cleaning is via a squeeze bulb blower - I've put a double layer of paper coffee filter over the bulb's air intake to reduce the chance of just blowing more dust on the lens. The next step when needed, is a clean lens brush using a light touch.

My next step is a matter of judgement. If the lens is contaminated with an oil based substance, I pull out my lens pen. If a non-oil based substance, I use a lens tissue with a bit of eye-glass cleaner at one end and the other end of the tissue used for blotting. I often follow up with my lens pen simply because I might transfer skin oil when using the damp tissue.

I also care a lot more about the condition of the rear lens element than I do about the front element. For one, dust on a rear element has an unimpeded path to the mirror, focusing screen and sensor. For another, a bit of dust on a front element is typically so out of focus as to have minimal impact on my image, but this is not necessarily so with anything on the rear element.

I always immediately cap my lenses, rear then front when removing a lens from my camera.
02-26-2013, 09:52 AM   #8
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I still use my stock of Kodak lens cleaning tissue and fluid, and it still works fine. The same tissue is still sold - but not under the Kodak brand. For smears I will also clean with clean Q-tips lightly moistened with fluid, making small circles in pattern around the lens - the old Hebert Keppler method. Another good choice are the Zeiss moistened cleaning tissues, packed in foil pouches in alcohol. Use once and throw away. I don't care for microfiber.

02-26-2013, 12:05 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
For me, I generally use a Kleenex tissue.
Kleenex is made from wood fibre and I have always been told that paper tissues will scratch. If all else fails I use a hanky that has been through the wash many times having got rid of any starch.
02-26-2013, 01:08 PM   #10
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I use something called Solution 30 Lens cleaner distributed here by Carl Zeiss, it's smear free and smells great.

It says on the tin "Specially formulated for cleaning high-grade glass and plastic ophthalmic lens. Also suitable for cleaning camera and optical instrument lenses".

Available here through many opticians and also the likes of Amazon online, just Google it.
02-26-2013, 02:36 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bob from Aus Quote
Kleenex is made from wood fibre and I have always been told that paper tissues will scratch. If all else fails I use a hanky that has been through the wash many times having got rid of any starch.
There is a lot of discussion about wood fibres scratching glasses (plastic lenses not glass)

I won't disagree, but this is something that happens over time not with a once off cleaning, assuming you have moistened (lubricated) the surface as I also described. Wen you breath on the lens it lubricates the surface.

Having said that, just with simple care of my lenses I think I have likely only ever cleaned them with Kleenex about 3 times. Generally I just blow the dust off. I use a Kleenex when there is a smudge on them, or on new to me (old) lenses that can be quite dusty.

You also need Tom consider not over doing it with force. You should not need to rub and rub the lenses to clean them.
02-26-2013, 03:08 PM   #12
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I try to use a microfiber, but more than likely it is whatever t-shirt I am wearing. The coatings used on modern lenses are extremely resilient. Older lenses take a little more care. I don't recommend the t-shirt method, but I'm being honest here.
02-26-2013, 03:18 PM   #13
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Most people seem to forget that even microfiber lens cloth will become grimy if used continuously over time. Some camera stores are the worst offenders, you could almost see the grime oozing from the cloth. Simple solution, wash it. And washing makes the cloth even softer.

For oily smudge, a drop or two of naptha on a PEC cloth takes care of the problem without leaving any residue.
02-26-2013, 03:26 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by excanonfd Quote
a drop or two of naptha
Where do you get Naptha? I thought Naptha was the evilest evil EVIL environmentally dangerous evil stuff on the planet.
02-26-2013, 03:30 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by monochrome Quote
Where do you get Naptha? I thought Naptha was the evilest evil EVIL environmentally dangerous evil stuff on the planet.
Zippo lighter fluid, Coleman camping stove fuel. Probably the least hottest solvent that leaves no residue.
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