How to safely clean your camera lenses and filters

Jan 8, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Jan 8, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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I used to clean my lenses religiously. Every time before I left the house with the camera, and again when I got back home. These days, my attitude towards it is a little more relaxed. I don’t worry about dust anywhere near as much as I used to. But I still try to avoid cleaning them the wrong way. And yes, there are some wrong ways.

If you struggle to keep your lenses clean or want to minimise the risk of damaging your lens while cleaning them take some pointers from Joe Edelman. In this video, he shows a couple of ways to absolutely not clean your lenses and talks about why. But he also demonstrates his method for cleaning his own lenses safely and effectively.

YouTube video

To prevent the problem showing up in the first place, Joe states the obvious. Use your lens caps. This is what they’re designed for, to keep dust off your lenses and protect them when not in use. But dust and other bits can get on the surface of your lens while you’re using them, too. So, when Joe needs to clean his lenses, he has a simple three step process.

1. Air

Not canned compressed air. That’s filled with all kinds of chemicals in it that can do your lens more harm than good. Also don’t use air compressors, because they can contain oil particles. And certainly don’t blow on the lens. This will introduce spit and other nasties onto the front of your lens which you’ll then just have to re-clean off.

Joe’s suggestion is the Giottos Rocket Blower. I’ve been using one of these myself for years and they’re fantastic. They’re also good for giving your sensor a quick blast of air, too, if it picks up a little dust. Since Nikon started manufacturing bodies with built in sensor cleaning, I’ve found that a rocket blower takes care of 99% of my dust issues. I used to have to take a swab to the sensor at least once a month with my old D100 bodies.

So, get yourself a rocket blower, but don’t try to fly with it. ;)

2. A brush

There are a number of brushes out there to help you wipe the dust off your sensor. Joe uses the Lenspen, a very inexpensive option. Joe does stress that he only uses the brush end of the Lenspen. If the Lenspen feels too cheap for you, then you can always treat yourself to a $75 Static Master Brush.

3. Wiping

You might think the obvious suggestion here is your typical microfibre lens cloth. The problem is that not microfibre lens cloths are created equally. Some are most definitely better than others. But they all have one big problem. They’re absorbant. Any grease on your lens that’s wiped off by a lens cloth is now stuck to the cloth. So, if you need to use it several times, then eventually you’re just transferring grease back to the lens from the cloth.

Joe uses disposable KimWipes with Pancro lens cleaner spray. Once used, you throw it away, so every time you go to clean a lens, you know your cloth is pristine. Personally, I do tend to go for a microfibre lens cloth. But, I change them regularly and I know where I can get good ones. I do also have a couple of packs of the Rosco Lens Tissues. These are disposable, like the KimWipes, and work very well.

Then, go back to the rocket blower to remove any fibres or particles left behind by the wipes.

It seems like a lot of hard work and extra stuff, but you don’t need to carry everything with you always. But even if you don’t, it’s worth having these items so that once you get home, you can give everything a good clean.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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2 responses to “How to safely clean your camera lenses and filters”

  1. jason bourne Avatar
    jason bourne

    All links to Amazon are “Not Found”…

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      Sorry about that. All fixed now. :)