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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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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 Old-N-Feeble; 05-31-2012 at 11:47 AM. Click to view previous post history.