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Thread: How do you clean your lens and filters?

  1. #1

    Default How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Accidentally touched the rear element of a lens as well as the glass of my filter.. leaving fingerprint marks. Not intending to do anything to the rear element of my lens yet, but I tried to clean the fingerprint mark off the filter, with a packaged lens cleaning kit.. Seems like I cause more problems on my filter

    The cleaning kit came with Soft-tex fiber cloth, cotton swabs, lens cleaning fluid, blower/brush combo and soft tissue paper. Not really knowing what to do I applied the fluid onto the cloth and wiped the filter glass, then I wiped off the wet part of the filter with the dry part of the cloth... now there are cloth wipe marks on the filter. Think I did something wrong...

    What's the proper way to clean lens and filter?

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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Watch vid...

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    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by sebianos View Post
    Watch vid...
    Ah, the Lenspen... let's just say I'm not a fan of it.
    Pray you don't have any embedded dirt at the tip... which happened to a friend of mine = front element scratch. YMMV

    Use Eclipse lens cleaner or simply isopropyl alcohol from your pharmacy (<$5) and a soft cotton swab/tissue. One wipe and all marks are gone, alcohol will evaporate leaving no residue.

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    Member scorpioh's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by creampuff View Post
    Ah, the Lenspen... let's just say I'm not a fan of it.
    Pray you don't have any embedded dirt at the tip... which happened to a friend of mine = front element scratch. YMMV

    Use Eclipse lens cleaner or simply isopropyl alcohol from your pharmacy (<$5) and a soft cotton swab/tissue. One wipe and all marks are gone, alcohol will evaporate leaving no residue.
    Yes. I am using the Isopropyl alcohol from Guardian and the Pedpac tissue. Rule of thumb is to stick to use-and-throw solution. No second wipes...
    I say the lens is the soul of a camera. What about the body? Well, it's just the body...

  5. #5

    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Thanks. Well, I just ordered a Giotto rocket blower and a lens pen, the lens pen seems quite cheap, but I think I'll try the alcohol and disposable wipes. How do I find these at Guardians?

    The lens cleaning fluid that came with the 5-in-1 kit doesn't seem to evaporate very well, leaving water marks on the filter. Something wrong with it? Isopropyl alcohol should do better? Is it safe against multi-coated filters?
    Last edited by woefulwabbit; 30th December 2009 at 10:13 AM.

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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by woefulwabbit View Post
    Thanks. Well, I just ordered a Giotto rocket blower and a lens pen, the lens pen seems quite cheap, but I think I'll try the alcohol and disposable wipes. How do I find these at Guardians?

    The lens cleaning fluid that came with the 5-in-1 kit doesn't seem to evaporate very well, leaving water marks on the filter. Something wrong with it? Isopropyl alcohol should do better? Is it safe against multi-coated filters?
    Ooh. In Guardian, you should be able to find a shelf with lots of lotions and daily use chemical, think calamine lotion, rubbing alcohol, Iodine, etc, in small (~300ml iirc) bottles. Get the Isopropyl alcohol (IPA). There are some other funny kind of alcohol but they may contain traces of oil. Eclipse is methanol which works better (faster evaporation) but I prefer IPA as it is much less toxic.

    Use the pecpad tissues as well. You should be able to find them in Cathay Photo at some $16 a pack/100pc. A little expensive but its definitely one the of safest option.

    Cleaning: Remove any visible dust/grit by blowing followed by taping it off with scotch-tape (may leave some residue but its ok). Next, dab the tissue with alcohol (can be slightly generous) and wipe your lens all over. You'll find that it doesn't dry well and may leave some residue. Finally, apply a very sparing amount of alcohol on another piece of tissue and wipe the lens clean as the alcohol drys. You may use the dryer part of the tissue if the you find it too wet. Sometimes you may need to do this a few rounds.
    I say the lens is the soul of a camera. What about the body? Well, it's just the body...

  7. #7

    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    To me the filter is nothing but a piece of glass (with coating of course).

    Normally, I will just blow with a blower.

    In extreme cases. I will wash with soap and water
    This is followed by a fling dry, a dab dry using lens tissue, and then blow dry under a overhead fan.
    To me its better than forceful rubbing that may wear off the coating in time.

  8. #8

    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Does anyone recommend lens cleaning paper? Any bad experiences with it?

  9. #9

    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    There is some great advice and some not so great!

    WATER - best thing to use! Just a wee bit is enough! dries slower than alcohol, but it takes only a minute or two longer... so what's the big deal?!! distilled water is best. Singapore (domestic) tap water is great too.

    ALCOHOL - dries quite fast... but you'd better be sure it is pure. some brands, especially from pharmacies, may have additives in them. Also, you can never be too sure than some *proprietary* lens coatings aren't slightly soluble in alcohol.

    OLD 100% PLAIN COTTON T-SHIRT or INNER VEST - No need for special lens paper, tissues, blah... use this one instead! Even old 100% cotton underwear. A white one is best because any stain will show up very easily! Use a blower brush to brush/blow away any micro fibres that remain after the lens is totally dry.

    BLOWER BRUSH - Should have very very soft bristles and be totally clean. You can wash the bristles after use with transparent handwashing soap and water. Separate blower and brush is better for washing.

    HAND DISHWASHING LIQUID - Brand/chemical composition is important! I use the transparent MAMA brand. USE AS LAST OPTION only IF NOTHING ELSE WORKS or if you think there is some oil residue on your lens e.g. from an accidental touch against sweaty/oily skin, fingers, etc. USE JUST A WEE BIT... a teeny weeny fraction of a drop! The lesser the better... NEVER APPLY TOO MUCH!

    Call me on my HP should you need any clarifications. I have been using film cameras and a vast collection of lenses for donkeys years. Always kept my equipment in pristine condition. Did not have these lens pens, micro-fibre cloth, blah, blah back then!
    Last edited by sircam; 31st December 2009 at 10:20 AM.

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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by sircam View Post
    Even old 100% cotton underwear. A white one is best because any stain will show up very easily!


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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by sircam View Post
    use this one instead! Even old 100% cotton underwear. A white one is best because any stain will show up very easily!
    As long as it's not in used condition, because you know that piece has gone "places".
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    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by sircam View Post
    There is some great advice and some not so great!

    WATER - best thing to use! Just a wee bit is enough! dries slower than alcohol, but it takes only a minute or two longer... so what's the big deal?!! distilled water is best. Singapore (domestic) tap water is great too.
    Unfortunately water alone won't remove any grease or oil. Possible to wash your filters with water but for lenses you can forget it ... because water can seep into the edges of the curved lens element and get into the lens. Because it is soluble and dries slowly, it is very easy to leave streaks and residue later. Plus there is always the risk of internal corrosion if it gets inside the lens.

    Quote Originally Posted by sircam View Post
    ALCOHOL - dries quite fast... but you'd better be sure it is pure. some brands, especially from pharmacies, may have additives in them. Also, you can never be too sure than some *proprietary* lens coatings aren't slightly soluble in alcohol.
    Well it is used a lot in optical factories. Lens coatings are usually a thin film metal oxide applied by PVD so I don't know where you got the idea that they are soluble in alcohol. You got any proof or is this just a random thought?

    Quote Originally Posted by sircam View Post
    OLD 100% PLAIN COTTON T-SHIRT or INNER VEST - No need for special lens paper, tissues, blah... use this one instead! Even old 100% cotton underwear. A white one is best because any stain will show up very easily! Use a blower brush to brush/blow away any micro fibres that remain after the lens is totally dry.
    Hmm, maybe a stopgap solution in the field but I know it won't really pick up all the fingermarks/grease/oil. You'll just be smearing it all over the lens. Plus rubbing with a dry tee puts a greater risk to scratch the lens coating. Can you be sure that tee is perfectly free of particles, even if you got it fresh from the laundry?

    Quote Originally Posted by sircam View Post
    HAND DISHWASHING LIQUID - Brand/chemical composition is important! I use the transparent MAMA brand. USE AS LAST OPTION only IF NOTHING ELSE WORKS or if you think there is some oil residue on your lens e.g. from an accidental touch against sweaty/oily skin, fingers, etc. USE JUST A WEE BIT... a teeny weeny fraction of a drop! The lesser the better... NEVER APPLY TOO MUCH!
    What can I say? If you know what goes into dishwashing liquid, you'd know that it is essentially a detergent and is not pH neutral. There are lots of additives like that nice lemon smell you get. Good for you if it has worked for you, I've been shooting for donkey's ears too and I certainly won't recommend anything like it, just like other home remedy recommendations like window cleaner liquid (ammonia)...

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    Member scorpioh's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    I would second Creampuff's advice here. IPA with Pecpad is the most effective and safest for me till now and I had went through that lenspen, Pentax lollipop path...
    I say the lens is the soul of a camera. What about the body? Well, it's just the body...

  14. #14

    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    must remind again..IPA from pharmacy contains additives which will leave a nasty residue..not sure about zippo lighter fuel (butane)?..
    Last edited by elavan; 31st December 2009 at 02:31 PM.
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    Senior Member creampuff's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by elavan View Post
    must remind again..IPA from pharmacy contains additives which will leave a nasty residue..not sure about zippo lighter fuel (butane)?..
    Guardian Pharmacy's isopropyl alcohol is 70% v/v. I have used it both on filters and lenses with no issues at all. There are no other additives listed (as I'm looking at the bottle now).
    For your own safety, avoid lighter fluid which is highly flammable. It does leave a distinctive odor too.
    Last edited by creampuff; 31st December 2009 at 06:48 PM.

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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Elavan, zippo fluid is for loosening aperture blades leh...

    Anyways, zippo can burn skin. I seen it happen to one girl who overfilled her zippo lighter and it burned her thigh when it leaked. No point using it on the lens; which is more delicate then a woman's leg

    But I've heard of people using vodka like smirnoff to clean lenses... 80% proof. I think sticking to the white alcohol should be quite safe - not the others like whiskey, bourbon, or tequila...
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    Member scorpioh's Avatar
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    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by creampuff View Post
    Guardian Pharmacy's isopropyl alcohol is 70% v/v. I have used it both on filters and lenses with no issues at all. There are no other additives listed (as I'm looking at the bottle now).
    For your own safety, avoid lighter fluid which is highly flammable. It does leave a distinctive odor too.
    Yes, I can also vouch that Guardian IPA is safe chemically.
    I say the lens is the soul of a camera. What about the body? Well, it's just the body...

  18. #18

    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    i use blower, microfibre cloth + e2 solution

  19. #19

    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by creampuff View Post
    Unfortunately water alone won't remove any grease or oil. Possible to wash your filters with water but for lenses you can forget it ... because water can seep into the edges of the curved lens element and get into the lens. Because it is soluble and dries slowly, it is very easy to leave streaks and residue later. Plus there is always the risk of internal corrosion if it gets inside the lens.
    Huh?!! I didn't suggest using lots of water... so much that it seeps into the edges... etc. etc. Even alcohol has a tendency to leave streaks and residues. Its what causes the streaks and residue that is the deciding factor here, not water and alcohol per say.


    Well it is used a lot in optical factories. Lens coatings are usually a thin film metal oxide applied by PVD so I don't know where you got the idea that they are soluble in alcohol. You got any proof or is this just a random thought?
    Water is also used a lot in optical factories. Many many times more than alcohol.

    Furthermore, not all lens coatings are thin films of metal oxides.

    In addition, with time, some of the coatings break down (chemically). Exposure to different kinds of environments also plays a deciding factor here.


    Hmm, maybe a stopgap solution in the field but I know it won't really pick up all the fingermarks/grease/oil. You'll just be smearing it all over the lens. Plus rubbing with a dry tee puts a greater risk to scratch the lens coating. Can you be sure that tee is perfectly free of particles, even if you got it fresh from the laundry?
    I didn't advocate using a cloth (whichever material) to smear grease or oil. I suggested using it to clean the lens with water/alcohol/cleaning liquid. Its common sense that water/alcohol won't get the oil/grease off and smearing will take place. Only cleaning liquids having detergent will get the oil off.

    BTW, I have tried this method... very rarely though. Works like a charm. But again, I warn, one has to use just a wee wee little bit. How little? Apply common sense! Try with a plain ordinary glass first before you apply on your lens... if the application feels soapy, you've used toooo muuuch!!

    Of course I do not advocate using this method at the drop of a hat. I only suggested it as a last measure... and I stated so in capital letters! LOL!!


    What can I say? If you know what goes into dishwashing liquid, you'd know that it is essentially a detergent and is not pH neutral. There are lots of additives like that nice lemon smell you get. Good for you if it has worked for you, I've been shooting for donkey's ears too and I certainly won't recommend anything like it, just like other home remedy recommendations like window cleaner liquid (ammonia)...
    What can I say? These aren't industrial detergents! I advocated MAMA because it is one of the most 'gentle' cleaning liquids. pH neutrality does not really matter here. Its a minor issue.

    +

    Funny thing is that in today's modern world it is so easy to scare consumers into buying expensive stuff to do simple jobs! Micro-fibre cloth! LOL!! Like isn't a cotton T-shirt also technically a micro-fibre cloth? Answer: It is... only it isn't advertised so!

    And what is the guarantee that the 'micro-fibre' cloth you buy hasn't got microscopic particles in it too that may scratch a lens? LOL!! Do they come certified sterile? Ever gone into a factory and seen for yourself how these things are made, stored, cut, shipped about and packed! You'll be shocked that these environments aren't atmospherically sterile!!

    BTW, did you know that all synthetic micro-fibre cloth (like the ones commonly sold) attract and hold dust by a static charge. This is an inherent quality of the material itself.

    Ironic that 'common sense' is not commonly found these days! We then to believe what we see and hear in the media without applying our knowledge and reasoning.
    Last edited by sircam; 1st January 2010 at 02:04 AM.

  20. #20

    Default Re: How do you clean your lens and filters?

    Quote Originally Posted by sircam View Post

    Funny thing is that in today's modern world it is so easy to scare consumers into buying expensive stuff to do simple jobs! Micro-fibre cloth! LOL!! Like isn't a cotton T-shirt also technically a micro-fibre cloth? Answer: It is... only it isn't advertised so!
    eh, please la

    whatever the case, microfibre cloth is not a cotton t shirt piece.

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