Cleaning and storing lenses

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by msbarnes, May 30, 2012.

  1. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    Cleaning lenses:

    OK so I hear that it's best to not clean your lens, but when you have to, what is your method? I blow the dust away with a Giottos duster, then if there are any smudges, I use spray some zeiss optical solution ONTO a disposable lens tissue and gently wipe the lens surface in a circular motion. Does this sound acceptable? Some claim that tissues scratch the surface and opt for the microfiber cloth...I'm wondering if this is a better route.

    Storing lenses:

    When not in use I usually store my lenses in my closet which is cool and dark with my lens cap on and upright; however, I've heard that it is better to keep it out in indirect sunlight with the lens cap on (to battle fungus). Does this sound like a good idea? I don't use any UV filters but it seems that I should use some with this method or storage.
     
  2. j-dogg

    j-dogg Subscriber

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    Lenspen, 10 dollars at any camera shop. One end for dust the other for smudges.

    You will thank me later.
     
  3. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    Personally, I use the lens cleaning tissues made by Zeiss. They've got cleaning fluid in them, (each one is in a separate foil pack), and they do a great job. I figure somebody like Zeiss wouldn't sell something that could harm a lens, so it seems pretty safe.
    It also makes sense to have the lenses in an environment that combats fungus, which is definitely not a dark, humid place. I left one in a little cupboard attached to a stone wall for a year, and it has fungus in it now. I'm sure it would have been noticed before, so now, I leave them out in the open with the caps on.
     
  4. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    First, blow all lose dirt with a can of compressed air, taking care not to expel liquid out of the can.
    Then, use a clean lens cleaning cloth (I use one for eye glasses) and wipe in circular motion using very little pressure.
    Blow with compressed air again and inspect.

    If the result is not satisfactory, repeat the same process except for using moistened cloth in between first and second step.

    I tried various cleaning cloths. Any micro fiber cloths designed for lens cleaning seems to work about the same. As to cleaning solution, I use Zeiss kind I got from eye glass place. Modern eye glasses are made of poly-carbonate or similar plastic. They are very easy to scratch. They are certainly gentle enough for photographic lenses.

    A very important thing to remember is to use gentle pressure. If you have a stubborn dirt, don't try to move it with pressure. moisten lightly and wait. Also, never spray directory onto the lens.

    I keep all my lenses in human comfortable - air conditioned - environment. No special treatment. If you got fungus or mold growing in your house, you got problems....
     
  5. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Oh....

    About microfiber and paper debate... I prefer microfiber. I would imagine (I'm guessing) if you compare top quality paper to top quality cloth, they'd be about equal. I use pre-moistened Zeiss brand paper as well and they are fine. I don't like the Kodak kind that ProMaster sells now.

    I purchased some paper which were absolutely horrible. They left fiber all over the place and were very abrasive. I threw those away. I also had ones that felt fine but left very fine scratches.

    I *think* part of the problem is that paper being so thin and not giving, it is so easy to apply too much pressure. If a hard dust gets on the surface, it is dragged across the surface of the lens - causing more scratches. I tend to be very careful with paper and only use the Zeiss kind. These are little thicker than many.

    As to cloth, I have seen people pull cloth out of pockets, camera bags, etc and proceed to wipe lenses. I'd be afraid to do that as cloth picks up dirt and keeps particles embedded in it. I keep mine in clean plastic zip loc bag and I wash mine often. I was told washing can cause problems with embedded particles, but I haven't had problems. I clean mine in a fine mesh laundry bag.
     
  6. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Zeiss Lens Cleaning Wipes are made for use with eyeglasses and not camera lenses. The coating on lenses is very soft and delicate. I personally wouldn't use them on my camera lenses.

    Cleaning lenses consists of a number of increasing "aggressive" steps. The most gentle is tried first and if it doesn't succeed then the next step is tried, etc.

    1. Use air to blow off any loose dust.
    2. A very soft brush appplied very gently to dislodge stubborn dust. A woman's cosmetic brush, you know the ones with the short handle, work well. When the dust has been loosened then step 1 is repeated. Never touch the bristles on the brush as this will leave oil or grease on them.
    3. An untreated lens tissue with no silicones is next used with distilled water obtained by breathing on the lens. The lens tissue is rolled into a thin tube and torn in half. The torn end is used to form a brush which is used to gently remove the water haze from the lens. Do not use a microfiber cloth as these things are magnets for dust and grit which can scratch. Even washing them may not remove the grit they accumulate.
    4. Only when the first three steps have failed is a small drop of lens cleaning fluid applied to the lens. This will remove any greasy smudges. Avoid allowing the fluid to get under the retaining ring. The fluid is wiped gently using small circular strokes. Once the greasy smudges are removed then step 3 is repeated to remove any fluid residue.

    I would recommend a lens cleaning fluid like Kodak's which contains Triton X-100 and ammonium bicarbonate as being the gentlest and most effective. The ammonium bicarbonate helps with the grease. When the fluid evaporates the ammonium bicarbonate decomposes into two gases ammonia and carbon dioxide. Pretty nifty in my estimation.

    The thing to remember is that small bits of dust on a lens are not going to degrade the image as all parts of the lens contribute to all parts of the image. This comes from the laws of optics. Another law says that anything on the surface of a lens cannot be imaged. Therefore you are not going to see a shadow on the image from a dust spot.

    And finally, MORE LENSES HAVE BEEN SPOILED BY CLEANING THAN BY NOT CLEANING THEM.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2012
  7. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    I usually use a thing like the mentioned duster or a brush. Suffices for 95% of all cases. If this is not enough, I use the Zeiss lens cleaning kit (micro fibre cloth and spray). I never use the cleaning tissues that were also included in the kit, since I find the micro fibre cloth so much more comfortable and effective.
     
  8. LJSLATER

    LJSLATER Member

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    I use isopropyl alcohol with a Q-tip to clean grime off my lens elements. The Q-tips usually leave lint which I wipe up with a microfiber cloth. In the field, I use my shirt or my tie (if I'm wearing one) to wipe the glass off. I think most modern lens coatings are much tougher than people think; my vintage Nikkors are just fine with my somewhat heavy-handed approach.

    I don't like to use compressed air because I sprayed liquid propellant all over the mirror of my FM2N one time.
     
  9. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    I don't agree, Gerald. I'm sitting with a new box of Zeiss lens wipes in front of me and the first picture on the front is a camera. It says underneath, "The ultimate convenience in cleaning for eyeglass lenses and high quality optics and electronics".
    I use them on my lenses and my iPad, with great results and no scratching at all.
     
  10. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I keep a UV haze or Skylight filter on all my lens and just clean the filter, on the rare occassion I need to clean haze from the front or rear element I use Kodak lens cleaning solution and lens paper, I still have Kodak paper. I store my camera bodies lens in large Colmean coolers, with filter and lens caps on with an old sock covering the lens, not sure why I do this, just a habit. I live in the desert so mold has not been a problem.
     
  11. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    My problem with wipes such as the Zeiss is that most people tend to apply too much pressure when usimmg them. The steps that I list come from an old photomag article. When using the tissue rolled into a tube if you should use too much pressure the tube just collapses. I didn't mention it in my OP but the article specifically warned against using Qtips. Once again because it is too easy to apply too much pressure grinding any grit into the lens.

    Really the best thing is to do nohing unless you are unfortunate enough to get a finger print on the lens.
     
  12. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

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    Yes I would never use pressure on the glass. I caress my lenses. DidnĀ“t even ever need pressure, even on very dirty front lenses.
     
  13. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    The best solution is certainy to keep a UV filter on the lens. This will protect it from both dirt and damage. But absent that, camera lenses are really not that fragile. Although a brush can be used for occassional cleanup, there is more in the air than just dust. Especially in our modern world, there is a lot of industrial polution in the air. This will form a film on the glass that eventually has to be cleaned. I use either a mist from breath, or a lens cleaning solution, with a microfiber cloth (or cotton cloth in an emergency). I've done this for years and have no problems with my lenses. Just don't over do it.

    The lenses are stored in an airtight plastic container with dessicant packets. Each lens is wrapped in cloth or paper padding. These boxes are stored in a cool, dry place (the Pen lenses just went into the refrigerator for the summer). The original leather lens cases are kept quite separate.
     
  14. Alan Klein

    Alan Klein Member

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    How does your cleaning procedure change when you clean the rear element?
     
  15. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    The problem is that most people don't know whether the coating on their lens is soft or hard. Better safe than sorry. I would be careful with any Russian lens.

    Rather than compressed air you can use a baby ear syringe. They are made of a soft rubber like material and even if the tip should touch the lens it will not scratch.
     
  16. M. Lointain

    M. Lointain Member

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    Personally I think wet is the key. Even microfibers should be used wet. I just blow with my breath then use either Zeiss wet wipes, ROR or Zeiss fluid and a Kimwipe or a microfiber. For the inside of lenses to get them really clean I use Opti-Clean. I bought it a long time ago and it is really expensive now unfortunately but it gets the lens microscopically clean like nothing else. Collodion can be used as well if you have that around.

    One thing to keep in mind is to tread lightly with old lenses. Anything pre 60's.
     
  17. hdeyong

    hdeyong Member

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    One thing I didn't mention was that I clean the lenses very rarely, maybe every 18 months. I keep good quality UV or polarizing filter on every lens, all the time. You'd think the lens couldn't get dirty, but there is a fine haze after a while. As Gerald says, it's important to have a very light touch when cleaning them. I'm even careful with my UV filters, because they're coated too.
    To be honest, the idea of having that front element exposed to dust, pollution, being bumped or scratched gives me the willies. I'd rather damage a $40 filter than a $400 lens.
     
  18. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    I rarely have to clean my own lenses, but when I do I use the same process I used on the lenses of hundreds of students.
    I blow off dust with a rubber ear syringe. If there are obvious particles which appear to be stuck, I suck them of wit the syringe.
    Fingerprints and other smudges are removed using activated charcoal. This is purchased in capsules at health food stores as a digestive supplement. Capsules are emptied into a film canister.
    For use I dip a Q-tip n, knock off the excess and use the Q-tip in a rotary motion beginning at the center and working my way toward the edge. Pressure is very light. This leaves the lens sparkling and there is no danger of liquid getting between the elements.
     
  19. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    For cleaning lenses I use household ammonia (a few drops on a clean tissue) rubbed gently over the lens. My glass is pristine. - David Lyga
     
  20. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    I have my ways and haven't damaged any coatings in about 20 years. Even then it was because I was in too much of a rush or was too impatient to take my time and clean them properly. Really dirty lenses can be very tricky. Dust sticks to glass increasingly over time and can be quite stubborn.

    I use a pair of 6+ reading glasses as I work. I remove the most dust I can get with blasts of compressed anhydrous gas. Then, dry, I use only the pressure of the lens paper itself extremely lightly at first to begin removing the loosest of the dust. Blow off again. I replace the cleaning paper very often never using the same area twice. I increase pressure ever-so-slightly as more of the dust is removed... again just allowing the bending of the paper for pressure. Blow off again. Be careful with what part of the paper you use because just a bent corner or folded edge of dry lens paper can scratch the coating. I repeat until I'm no longer making progress with dry materials with very very light paper-only pressure. In fact, "pressure" probably isn't the right term to use!! I then move to the difficult-to-clean outer edges of the glass adjacent the barrel. I switch to Q-tips and follow a similar procedure as with the paper on the center of the lens. Then I switch to barely dampened materials and repeat these procedures until the glass is spotless.

    It's a very delicate process if you want to completely avoid any coating damage. I've spent up to an hour cleaning just one very dusty lens. It's boring and no fun but your only other option is to pay (and trust) someone else to do it for you.

    ETA: I buy quality lens cleaning fluid without any ammonia. I never use brushes because, under magnification, I've see them scratch coatings a few times. I don't use puffers because they don't create enough concentrated pressure to remove stubborn dust.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 31, 2012
  21. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    I use 91% isopropyl alcohol(about $2/bottle) and cotton balls to clean my lenses. If I need to get out something in a nook or cranny, I use a cotton swab. If lint is left behind, I hit it with a puff of canned air. 99% of the time it dispels any surface dust or debris left over from the swab.

    Learned this trick from a retired pro who's been shooting since the mid 50's(he's now in his mid 80's). He's cleaned all his lenses from then to now(so older coated/uncoated glass to the latest G-series Nikon lenses) this way, and NEVER had an issue related to this cleaning method.

    I put mine in an amber eye-dropper bottle, it makes it easier to dispense out onto the swab, so I don't saturate it.

    -Dan
     
  22. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

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    DanielStone: the problem with using alcohol is that the static is not lessened. With either ammonia or a bit of soap it is. This makes a BIG difference when you are cleaning inside elements especially because you want to remove all dust before you close that element into the lens body. Holding the element in front of a light bulb is the most ruthless (and necessary) test for dust. The alcohol allows (and encourages) dust to cling tenaciously. - David Lyga
     
  23. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Zeiss in the individual foil packets, Walmart and other places around $3 for box of 50. Larger boxes available.

    Sams Club, part of Walmart, I found two 6 oz bottles same solvent with spritz heads so you spritz the included microfiber cloth.

    The problem with Microfiber is they get dirty so keep in a plastic bag. Embeded dirt may scratch.

    Always blow off first, then brush. Stop if this is sufficient. If the cleaning cloth picks up solid debris, it may scratch.

    I have tried all kinds of fluids and this leaves the least residue. If you have to go the fluid route more than annually, you are not using the lens cap enough.
     
  24. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    This is the best lens cleaner I've ever used in more than fifty years,http://www.ror.net/, it's made in California, I use it to clean photographic lenses,my glasses, flat screen monitors , binoculars, and flat screenTVs.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 8, 2012