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03-22-2014, 07:08 AM   #1
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True or False: Cleaning lenses removes the coatings

I have several times seen it said that cleaning camera lenses will remove the coatings on the lenses. I wore coated glasses for years and the coating never wore off even with very frequent cleaning.

I understand cleaning runs the risks of scratching the lens, but does a cleaner like isopropyl alcohol really remove the coatings themselves?

03-22-2014, 07:52 AM   #2
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Certainly not
03-22-2014, 07:59 AM   #3
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My last pair of glasses is scratched to crap from cleaning and random bumps.
03-22-2014, 08:02 AM   #4
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No lens cleaner should bother the coatings. You often see older lenses with cleaning marks but that is because someone tried to clean with abrasive material or there was grit on the lens when they wiped it.

I avoid cleaning as much as possible and always use a rocket blower first when I do have to clean.

03-22-2014, 08:09 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
I avoid cleaning as much as possible and always use a rocket blower first when I do have to clean.
Yep. Same here, but I follow the Rocket Blower with a loosely wadded piece of microfiber cloth brushed VERY lightly over the surface to catch any fine particles that the blower might have missed.
03-22-2014, 08:17 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by NicoleC Quote
I understand cleaning runs the risks of scratching the lens, but does a cleaner like isopropyl alcohol really remove the coatings themselves?
No. Unless you use a "cleaner" that can actually damage glass, modern coatings themselves won't be affected by the chemicals that you brush on and brush off. Leave something on and let it dry so that particulates form (like saltwater), then wipe it off, and you're asking for a mark. It's the wiping that does the damage...
03-22-2014, 08:41 AM   #7
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Depends on the tools used, on the method, and the coatings themselves.
Usually you will hear about "cleaning marks" on old lenses - old lenses that have ancient coatings and were roughly scrubbed many, many times.
If you do things right and learn about the process, you should be fine. You just have to learn not to use too much pressure and not to use certain solutions/materials.
03-22-2014, 09:00 AM   #8
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Not a lens, but polarizing filters are very prown to coating damage so cleaning is difficult.

03-22-2014, 09:09 AM   #9
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Depends how old the lens is (what he actual coating formula was at the time the lens was made), what you are cleaning it with and what your technique is. Modern coatings are supposedly harder than those from say the 60's and modern blowers, anti-static brushes, microfiber cloths, solutions and even lens cleaning papers are more sophisticated. Since I buy a lot of old lenses, I completely clean the glass and all exterior surfaces (including any oxidized rubber) with Residual Oil Remover (Amazon or B&H), then rarely, if ever again. I don't think I've ever cleaned a lens I bought new.

I don't use a 'protective' filter and I never touch the glass - just blow off any dust at the end of the day.
03-22-2014, 09:39 AM   #10
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You can clean a lens a thousand times and do no damage. Its the one time somebody stuck a gritty rag in there and tried to "get the corners" that leaves the scars.
I use a fine brush and a rocket blower usually. For a finger print on glass, a couple drops of lens cleaner on a clean micro-fiber cloth.
03-22-2014, 10:04 AM   #11
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I wouldn't know, as I never clean my lenses. I occasionally brush dust off, but otherwise leave my lenses be.
03-22-2014, 11:12 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by MPrince Quote
I wouldn't know, as I never clean my lenses. I occasionally brush dust off, but otherwise leave my lenses be.
Same here. Always have a lens cap on when not in use. You'd have to have an incredible amount of 'dirt' on your lens for it to actually affect image quality.
03-22-2014, 11:39 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnyates Quote
Same here. Always have a lens cap on when not in use. You'd have to have an incredible amount of 'dirt' on your lens for it to actually affect image quality.
I agree. I've seen an experiment (let me see if I can't find it) Where the front element was broken and the lens still worked fairly well, but even with good chunks of stuff on it, it was fine.

Anyway, the coatings of modern lenses should be plenty durable to not worry about cleaning, assuming you don't get stupid about it (cleaning with terrible cloth and such)

EDIT: HERE is the article: http://kurtmunger.com/dirty_lens_articleid35.html
03-22-2014, 07:53 PM   #14
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Thanks, all. I thought it sounded like BS. Usually I don't have anything but dust anyway. I think the lens I've cleaned the most has been cleaned 2 times in 4 or 5 years, and then with gentle microfiber and isopropyl alcohol. But if it were an issue, better to find out before the 5th or 6th cleaning kills it!
03-23-2014, 05:24 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by SpartanD63 Quote
I agree. I've seen an experiment (let me see if I can't find it) Where the front element was broken and the lens still worked fairly well, but even with good chunks of stuff on it, it was fine.

Anyway, the coatings of modern lenses should be plenty durable to not worry about cleaning, assuming you don't get stupid about it (cleaning with terrible cloth and such)

EDIT: HERE is the article: Dirty lens article
Lensrentals.com did something similar.

LensRentals.com - Front Element Scratches

Oh, it looks painful!!
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