Cleaning and storing 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.
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.
Lenspen, 10 dollars at any camera shop. One end for dust the other for smudges.
You will thank me later.
5x7 Eastman-Kodak kit / Meyer Gorlitz 13.5cm/4,5 Trioplan / Bausch & Lomb Zeiss-Tessar 5x8 f4.5
Mamiya 645 / 150 f3.5 N, WLF, metered prism finder, left grip
FED-2 / 50 2.8 Industar 26m / 85/2 Jupiter-9
Canon 300v / 5D d*****l / L lenses
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.
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....
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
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.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
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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 Gerald C Koch; 05-30-2012 at 11:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.
A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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.
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.
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.
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.