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06-15-2014, 04:17 PM   #1
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Cleaning Options for Manual Lenses

Hello all, recently I discovered a few fingerprint smudges on the rear element of a SMC-A 50mm f2.0 lens. My question is how can I clean this sensitive area of a lens without scratching it? I don't know what sort of coatings this glass might have or what sort of solution I should use to clean it. I have a microfiber cloth, but I've used it on a filter and watched as it spread the dust and lint around the filter without picking it up. I don't want this happening to the rear element.

So, any help would be appreciated as I'd rather do this myself instead of spending money to send out to clean a $15 dollar lens. For that matter, how would I clean that filter as well?

06-15-2014, 04:26 PM   #2
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It's not as delicate as you think.

I have been cleaning front and rear elements with nothing but moisture from my breath and a well-worn cotton t-shirt for 40 years with no problems.
06-15-2014, 04:39 PM   #3
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"Lenspens" are pretty good for this sort of thing (google it). I've had both an original one and a cheap knock off. Couldn't really tell the difference. They are particularly good for fingerprints and smears, reside neatly in a pocket or case, and one can be confident of their appropriateness for the purpose. With usage, they wear out and smear more.
06-15-2014, 04:44 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by OregonJim Quote
I have been cleaning front and rear elements with nothing but moisture from my breath and a well-worn cotton t-shirt for 40 years with no problems.
I'll admit to doing the same, but a microfiber cloth slightly dampened with lens cleaning solution is most likely a better method. Always blow the glass off first with a rocket blower if you have one. Most scratches are caused by vigorous cleaning when grit is present on the lens. Blow it off first, then gently clean with the microfiber cloth.

06-15-2014, 06:25 PM   #5
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First step is blow off the dust and possible grit with a blower or your breath.
Second step is brush gently with a soft, clean brush that has not been touched by your fingers. Keep that brush for only dusting lens elements.
Third step is blow with your breath to fog the lens.
Fourth is very gently wipe the lens in a circular motion with an old cotton T shirt or diaper or microfiber cloth.
Fifth step check lens for lint and blow it off.
Sixth step is to go out and take some great pictures.

And in the future keep your ------ fingers off the glass.

06-16-2014, 09:39 AM   #6
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I use a rocket blower for dust. For finger prints I tear off a few pieces of quality paper toweling (I use Costco brand) a couple of square inches each such that each piece has a ragged edge. I squirt a little Windex on the ragged edge of one piece and apply it to the soiled lens in a circular pattern and follow immediately with the ragged edge of the dry piece to finish. A soft cotton cloth can be used as well. Be gentle and you have little need to worry.

I sometimes use a microfiber cloth, but it is good to be aware that the cloth should be clean. It is likely that grit from the last cleaning is still on the cloth.

06-16-2014, 07:38 PM   #7
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I've been using warm breath and an old t shirt for over 30 years too, but I prefer a microfiber cloth and a few drops of water. I've never needed anything else. Something to blow or brush off dust maybe...a make up brush works well, as long as you get one that has never been used for make up...

And by the way, I'm trained in optical instrument repair, mainly binoculars. We used acetone for cleaning, but you're talking salt water, fingerprint smudges, in some cases mud, you name it. For the average camera lens, I've never seen one in over 30 years that needed more than a damp cloth. Then a dry one.

No wait, I did see one...some dummy opened up a lens and didn't know that the threads in the lens mount were coated with a heavy grease. That got smeared all over the inside of the lens. The more he tried, the more it smeared...I had to laugh...and got out the acetone...but that's not your average everyday lens. I've dealt with that same grease many times, and I know how to open it up and clean it without smearing the stuff. Took me 2 hours and a couple of dozen q tips to clean it up. But it was usable after that...

Last edited by Paleo Pete; 06-16-2014 at 07:44 PM.
06-17-2014, 01:27 AM   #8
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glass cleaning cloth...


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