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Clean Your Lens Right

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography

Lens Cleaning Techniques

Yeah, I know, this doesn’t really seem like an overly exciting topic today, but I think it’s well worth a mention. Seems like every time someone hands me his or her camera to take a photo, the lens looks like it’s been dipped into a shop vac.

First off, a clean lens is an essential ingredient to great photos. A lens that’s full of smudges, dirt, or fingerprints can’t give you good results. Not only will you lose sharpness, but you’ll also find color and contrast suffer. You’ll end up with soft, muddy-looking photos instead of sharp, rich, images full of snap. Besides, cameras aren’t cheap—why get less image quality than it’s capable of due to grimy optics?

Cleaning the lens is fairly simple. First, head to your local camera store and get a good lens cleaning kit. It should include both lens tissue (or a good microfiber cloth) and lens cleaning solution. When you purchase, keep in mind that some “low end” kits aren’t much better for your lens than Windex and paper towel. Don’t go cheap on this; spring for the best kit they have—or put one together yourself. No matter what you do, it’s probably going to cost less than a date at McDonalds.

Anyhow, once you have your kit in hand, just put a few drops of lens cleaning solution on a dry piece of lens tissue. Rub the lens gently in a clockwise motion—work from the center to the edges. Dry off any excess with a second piece of lens tissue.

Once dry, “fog” the lens with your breath. Then gently take the dry piece of lens tissue and wipe off—again from the center out. This step seems to get rid of any residual “soap” left over from the cleaning solution.

That’s really about it. Again, I want to stress how important it is for you to use good quality lens tissue on your optics and not your T-shirt or some other substitute. Anything beyond lens tissue can put tiny scratches in your lens coating. Over time, these tiny scratches will have the same effect as dirt or fingerprints on your lens.

~ Steve

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