How to clean your lens

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

Cleaning your camera lens is such a basic task that I am surprised to hear how many myths and legends people have about cleaning their glass. To clean your lens can be broken down into two parts. Cleaning the front element and cleaning the body of the lens.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

 

Cleaning the front element of the lens is the controversial part and it is where all the arguments start with photographers.  So before we start on how to clean the front element, let’s look at what you will need to clean the front element of the lens.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

You only need a few supplies to clean your lens. I like having some canned air on hand but you can use an air blower if you like. Try to get a lens pen, and make sure you have a nice soft cloth on hand. The last thing that you will need is a good quality screwdriver.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

First thing you should do is blow off as much dust and hair as possible on your lens.

 

Now when you start to clean your lens, there are two things that you will be cleaning, dust particles, and oily smudges that you usually from your fingerprints. The first step to cleaning your lens is to blow away as much or the dust particles as possible. Once you have gotten rid of as much dust as possible, the next step will be to remove any oily residue.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

Brush as much dust off the lens as possible. Brush softly though, you do not want to be scrubbing your lens with the brush.

 

Now you want to take your microfiber cloth and wipe the front element of the lens down. If you need to wet the cloth a little, just use water, but only a tiny bit. You want to the cloth to be slightly damp but you don’t want it to leave water streaks across the surface. Using the cloth, wipe from the center of the front element to the outside. Once you have done, hold the lens up to a light and look for water streaks. Cleaning the front element is really easy. The front element is tough, it is designed to be tough, so don’t worry too much about scratching it when using a cloth to clean it. If you need to clean the lens out in the field, you can use the same principle there as well, and before anyone asks, yes can spit on your front element and clean it with a cloth. I have read some bullshit before that your spit is slightly acidic and will destroy your lens coating. Don’t believe such rubbish.  Lens are made to be used every single day by professionals, who shoot and clean them often. They are not fragile glass figurines that will fall apart with the slight bump. Always remember that your lens is tools, tools are designed to be used, not babied as some fragile creature.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

One of my friend’s lens. If you stay in a place with high humidity, then you need to keep your lens in a dry box or your lens will be destroyed. I live in a very humid city in China, and my gear is always locked away in a dry box when I am not using it.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

I usually keep a UV filter on the front of all me lens. I do this for some protection and it keeps the front element clean and provides some insulation from moisture and dust. Filters are easy to replace if they get damaged, but if you damage the front element of a lens, then you usually have to go buy a new lens.

 

Now I will be honest, I use a front filter on all my lens, to protect them from scratches and bumps, so 9 times out of 10, I am cleaning the front filter and not the front element. I suggest that you buy some filters and put them onto your lens as well. But when you clean your lens, you need to clean more than just the front element as well.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

The rear element of the lens can recess into the lens itself, so be careful that you do not blow any dust into the lens body when you are cleaning it.

 

When you are at home, you should also be cleaning the rear element of the lens, the lens barrel, and the switches. Cleaning the rear element is exactly the same as cleaning the front element so I will skip that. But I will warn you, some lens, the rear element will recess into the lens body, so be careful of blowing dust into your lens. With some zoom lens, the rear element will move back and forth inside the lens, depending on the focal length, so before you clean the rear element, try to get it as close to the surface as possible.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

Make sure you clean the lens body. A lot of dirt gets into the lens from the barrel when you are zooming the lens. Keep the barrel clean and your lens will remain problem free for a long time.

 

You want to clean the lens barrel of any zoom lens. A lot of dust that goes into a zoom lens is sucked in from the lens barrel so it is a good idea to clean the lens barrel at least once a month.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

On a modern lens, don’t forget that you have got to clean the metal contacts on the lens from time to time. I usually clean the contacts every 6 months on my lens, but it all depends on how much you use your lens. To clean the contacts, just brush them with an eraser. That should remove almost all the dirt that will build upon them over time.

 

The next thing you got to clean about once a year is your lens metal connectors. These connectors convey the lens settings to the camera and if they are dirty, you may get lens errors. To clean them is easy. Just take a standard eraser and gently rub across the connectors, rubbing any dirt that has built up on them over the year. I usually clean my lens contacts every 6 months.  Keep in mind that older lens will not have these so don’t go hunting for them if you have some old manual focus lens.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

The last and most important thing you have got to do with your lens has checked the screws. They can and will come loose over time.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

Some lens will have screws in the lens barrel as well. So make sure you check those as well.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

Because of my work environment, the screws tend to vibrate lose very quickly so I tend to tape over the screws to help keep them in place. If you shoot music festivals, make sure you are very careful with the screws in your lens. Losing one or two screws could make your lens unusable.

 

The final thing that you want to do when cleaning your lens, is to check that all the screws are tight. I do this once a month because of my work at music festivals tends to vibrate the screws in lens loose, but an average shooter should do this once a year. You want to go around your lens and make sure that all the lens screws are nice and tight. Especially the screws in the lens mount. That is what keeps the lens attached to your camera, make sure the lens mount is nice and firmly attached to the lens.

 

DSCF7008-1024x683-1024x683 How to clean your lens

Last but not least, make sure you clean your lens caps. What is the point of cleaning your lens and then putting dirty lens caps back onto the lens? All that dirty will quickly transfer back to your lens.

 

Camera and lens maintenance is an important aspect in photography and it is something that every good photographer should do. It should be a routine that you go through, set aside some time where you clean your equipment each week and maintain it. Clean and well-maintained equipment makes for a happy shooting experience.

Shaun.

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