Cleaning a Camera Lens

Cleaning a Camera Lens

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  1. During everyday use, the lens of a camera will accumulate dust, dirt, and fingerprints. If you follow a few common sense tips, you can clean your lens without risk of damage to the camera or lens. A well-stocked camera bag should contain tools for a quick lens cleaning.

    Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

    The vast majority of dust and dirt on a lens is small, and so out of focus compared to the rest of the image that it is practically invisible in most photos. Unless you plan to make very high quality enlargements, ignore small amounts of dust on a lens.

    Fingerprints, large smudges or dirt particles are another matter, and can be visible in a photograph. Remove these as soon as you notice them.

    Dust Removal Blower

    You can remove most dust particles from your lens or optical filters by simply blowing them off with a puff of air. Do not use your breath, as it contains small amounts of saliva that will require further cleaning. There are many tools available for dust removal, and a popular favorite is the Giottos Rocket Air Blower. The Rocket delivers a quick, powerful gust of air that will dislodge the most stubborn of dust.

    Avoid the temptation to use any blower on the body of your camera. Even though most cameras are sealed, you do not want to force dust into seals, under knobs, or into the body of the camera. Never use a blower on the inside of your camera or on the sensor.

    Hold the blower about an inch from the lens, squeeze and direct the stream onto the lens and lens body. Be especially sure to get the baffles at the front of the lens, since dust will collect in these areas. If you keep a protective filter over your lens, occasionally remove the filter and remove any collected dust.

    Microfiber Cloth

    More stubborn dirt or your lens, or smudges and fingerprints require a different cleaning strategy. A microfiber cloth is an inexpensive and easy-to-carry tool for cleaning lenses. These cloths will remove fingerprints and most smudges without the need for cleaning solutions. Always rub gently in a circular motion, and be sure to use a dust blowoff tool before rubbing the lens with a cloth.

    Microfiber cloths come in their own carrying pouch, and should be stored in the pouch to keep the cloth from drying out. Most manufacturers recommend washing and reusing cloth, but you may prefer to replace it to avoid any potential for lens damage. Older cloths are great for wiping the camera body or any other electronic equipment.

    Summary

    Lenses should be kept clean, but avoid over-cleaning since most dust and small particles will not be visible in photos. Blowers and microfiber cloths are excellent tools for the majority of lens cleaning requirements, and should be a part of any photographer’s toolkit.

    More stubborn dirt and grime may require a lens-cleaning solution, covered in a separate article.

    Resources

    The author provides resources to provide an example source for products discussed in this article. The author has no affiliation with, and receives no compensation from, any company mentioned.

    Giottos Rocket Air Blower: http://www.amazon.com/Giottos-AA1900-Rocket-Blaster-Large/dp/B00017LSPI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1275664801&sr=8-1

    Microfiber Cloth: http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-8072-Microfiber-Cleaning-Cloth/dp/B0007M6GI6/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1275648549&sr=8-5

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