Cleaning Your Lenses

category: Cameras • 3 min read

Anybody that knows what she is talking about in the business of photography will tell you that the lenses are more important than the cameras.

  • Cameras become obsolete after 5 years. Do you remember the Canon 20D or the Nikon D40? They were great cameras, then…
  • Lenses last for decades and function day-in day-out. Some camera companies have what everybody in their “right mind” would call a barely OK cameras (there are other words too) but have such fantastic lenses that they get away with it and charge much more than full price until some competition shows up. Do I hear Leica?

Take good care of your lens and they will take care of you by producing great photos, i.e. I hate it when people say to me: “You must have a good camera.”

At some point, your lens will become dirty or dusty, that’s unless you have a pinhole camera.

My Cleaning Equipment

  • Giotto air-blower/rocket. I bought mine on sale for $11. Any air blower will do as long as you use it properly and it’s not too strong.
  • Lens pen. I bought mine 30 years ago, now it’s around $12.
  • Micro-fiber cloth. Around $3 or if you are a “sucker”, like me, you will buy the anti-static micro-fiber cloth for around $6. What’s the anti-static for? I still don’t know. Don’t we want static to attract the dirt and the dust? But anti-static sounds so much better, just like green or healthy…

My procedure

  1. Remove the lens from the camera and close the camera with the body-cap. You still have yours, right? It came with the camera when you bought it. It wouldn’t be good to have dirt or dust flying from the lens into the camera.
  2. Put the rear and front lens cap on the lens, so you know where they are and don’t have to fumble. Personally, I only do 1 side at a time and I don’t want the lens to get dirty or dusty afterwards.
  3. Remove the lens cap, and hold the lens horizontally. I like to blow with the air-blower at a fairly steep angle to remove most of the dust. Never use compressed air for blowing the dust, unless you are a Ninja master or don’t mind destroying the coating with the alcohol propellant at high speed and high pressure.
  4. If it looks clean, then do the rear of the lens, if not, keep on.
  5. Use the lens pen brush with circular motions to remove as much dirt as possible. I can’t remember the last time that I use the other side, it’s that long.
  6. Gently wipe the lens surface from the edges toward the center of the lens, with a lifting motion rather than a rubbing motion. The important word is gently. I like to go from the edges to the center. Somebody told me that many years ago and I find that it’s easier to get the dirt in the middle.
  • Both Canon and Nikon have a special coating on the front of their “professional” lens that minimize the lens getting dirty.
  • I do not use UV filters to protect the lens, I have found that they affect the focus on my 7D with different micro-adjustment for with and without the B+W UV filters. If I was at a beach in a storm, low on the ground, that would be another story…
  • I always, always use the lens shade. Inside or outside, it doesn’t matter. The lens shade improves the quality of the photo by controlling the stray photons and by protecting the lens from contact with foreign objects.
  • I do have some lens cleaning fluid that I use rarely. I use it only if the lens is “filthy”, if not, I don’t, and again, gently and only a tiny bit.
  • Never, ever spray the cleaning fluid on the lens, always on the cloth.