How should I clean my DSLR's lens? - Digital Photography School

How should I clean my DSLR’s lens?

I’ve noticed that my DSLR’s lens has lots of smudges on it that are starting to impact the quality of my images but I’m too scared to clean it because I’m worried about scratching it. Do you have any suggestions? – Chris

Cleaning your camera’s lenses should be a regular (although not too regular) part of any camera owner’s maintenance. While you do need to be very careful during this process it’s not something to be frightened about. The best time to clean a lens is when it’s dirty – don’t get in the habit of cleaning it off daily or you’ll do more damage than good. However when the time comes to clean it here are a few simple tips:

Use a UV or Skylight filter

Before I get into cleaning techniques let me share a tip that all DSLR users should consider. For each lens you own you should consider purchasing a UV or skylight filter. Keep it attached to your lens at all times. In addition to it cutting out UV light they will protect your lens from scratches or even breakage. It also means that when you do your cleaning you’ll just be cleaning the filter instead of the actual lens (unless dust gets right in). Keep in mind that filters come in different levels of quality – if you have a high end lens consider investing in a higher end filter.

Lens hoods can also help protect the end of your lens as do the lens caps for both the front and back end of your lens that come with it – always use them!

Lens Cleaning Fluid

In most camera stores you’ll find an alcohol based lens cleaning fluid that is well worth having. It will help you to lift off fingerprints and other smudges without leaving streaks on your lens or filter. Keep in mind that you don’t need too much of this fluid at a time – usually just a drop or two wiped in a gentle circular motion with a cleaning tissue will remove most marks on a lens or filter. Always apply the fluid to a cloth or tissue rather than the lens itself.

Alternatively – many photographers believe that simply breathing on your lens and then wiping with a cloth is a safer method for cleaning it – rather than introducing harsh fluids. My own approach is to start with breath and then use the fluids for difficult marks to remove.

Cleaning Tissues

To apply the cleaning fluid grab yourself some lens tissues. They are a very thin paper that will let you wipe your lenses without scratching them. These tissues are one use tissues and should be thrown away after using. Don’t use normal facial tissues – these are too rough and will scratch your lens.

Cleaning Cloth

An alternative to cleaning tissues is the more modern microfiber cleaning cloth. These washable cloths grab a hold of dust and oils on your lens. The main thing to be aware of with them is to keep them clean themselves with a regular wash – alternatively just buy yourself a new one as they are very cheap to buy and that’ll negate the risk of wiping something from your wash into your lens.

Before using a cloth always check the lens to make sure you don’t have any larger pieces of grit on it. The last thing you want to do is wipe it into your lens causing a scratch. Remove any larger gritty dust using a blower or brush before wiping.


Blowers

Most camera stores sell blowers of different varieties. While I’d personally advise being very careful with them on the inside of your camera (you could actually end up blowing dust into it) they can be great for cleaning the outside of your camera – including the lens. Before you use a blower make sure you squeeze if a few times first to get any dust that might be inside it out.

Brushes

If you have a lot of dust on your camera one good tool to get the big stuff off is a brush. Get one with fine and soft hair (camel hair) to avoid scratching your lens. Similarly you might like to invest in a lens cleaning pen which has a retractable brush on one end an a cleaning pad on the other.

Silica Gel

One lost preventative measure before we end. Grab some silica gel sachets to throw into the bottom of your camera bag. The little sachets will draw any moisture in your bag to them to save your lenses and DSLR from being impacted by it. Keep changing over this sachets over time or they’ll attract too much water and become useless.

Much of the above cleaning gear is pretty low cost and will be available from a good camera store (often as a full kit). Don’t go for the very cheapest gear though – when you’re looking after gear that you’ve paid big dollars for it can be worth paying a little extra to ensure quality. Here are some of what Amazon offers:

Update – Lastly – take a lot of care when changing lenses. Cleaning the outside elements of your camera and lens is a lot easier than cleaning the inside where things are much more delicate. When changing lenses turn off your camera first, always point your camera and lens to the ground and attempt to do it inside or out of the wind. Learn to do these things quickly and you’ll have less dust and grime to clean off your camera and lenses.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • John

    A clean white cotton tea-shirt will should be fine to clean the external lens, dont even think about cleaning the internal surfaces without the correct equipment and knowledge. , just make sure there is no grit or other hard particles to scratch your lens, just breath on the lens if you need a bit of moisture.

    If you don’t have a UV filter on your lens, i recommend you get one, I buy always by “HOYA UV(C) HMC Filter Multi Coated” they are good quality and quite cheap $20 or so.

  • John

    Oh Yeah, I forgot to mention you could use an spectical/glasses cleaning cloth as long as it new

    I found a bit grouptest of UV filters, it`s a couple of years old but it`s a good read.

    http://www.lenstip.com/113.1-article-UV_filters_test.html

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/archideos/ ArchiDEOS

    Great tips..Thanks.. I used a cleaning lens-kit and clean it whenever i see a lot of dust particle on my lens front glass…

    Regarding the use of filter, as fo rmy reseacrh, FILTER IS NOT DESIGN FOR LENS PROTECTION, and Lens maker did not consider to use filter for protection. Instead the lens hood and the lens cover is enough to protect the lens itselt. Filter also contribute vigneting, especially in a wide lens..whatever may be the brand.. That’s why i never put any filter in my L’s series glass. But you know, business is business, that why some people advice, specially the beginners to buy a filter for protection blah blah blah for their lens..

  • http://peachey.com Michael Peachey

    UV Filters or no UV Filters?

    My own opinion? Mount a good one, even though it’s a waste of money.

    Huh?

    A UV filter might help with damage if you drop or slam the lens against something. On the other hand, any hit of noticeable impact is going to deform the filter ring, making it difficult or impossible to remove from your lens without damaging the threads. And, any hit hard enough to damage the lens (and trust me I’ve dropped L glass from a camera bag without any effect) is going to damage the lens elements internally regardless of the filter. The only thing the filter could really help with is if you slam your lens into some sort of corner which would have hit the front element, but miraculously got saved because it hit the filter and shattered that instead.

    So, why mount one?

    Some day you’re going to want to sell your lens on eBay or Craigslist, and you want to say the filter has been there since you bought it because that’s what the buyer wants to hear.

    Or, you could just buy a crappy Tiffen UV filter for $8 when you’re ready to sell the lens :-)

  • http://photoshah.com cortlander

    I did come across an interesting article about filter use. The author supported his views with photographs. In summary, his research showed that the air thickness varied between curvature of the lens and the filter and it did affect the picture quality.

    This is a passionate topic for some, but to each his own.

  • http://photoshah.com cortlander

    Canon’s EF Lens work book:

    http://software.canon-europe.com/files/documents/EF_Lens_Work_Book_7_EN.pdf

    Go to page 133: How to deal with flaring and ghosting particular to digital photography
    for a technical explanation on why glass in front of your lens will affect the optical quality.

  • http://colorless-green.net/ Björn Lindström

    For more selectively blowing away dust particles from your sensor, get a bulb syringe at a pharmacy.

  • ard

    hi, i have problem with my dslr. i already clean my lens twice …seem like the dust still stick on my lens.. any tip?? please advice. thanks.

  • Tinderbox (UK)

    I found this guide today, it may help

    http://www.tribcsp.com/~sigma2/SensorDust01.html

  • Ashish Tyagi

    I have cleaned the lense ( once) with the normal facial tissue. Although I have not notice any scratch or difference in image quality but just scared, would that be harmful ( I am not going to do that again ) actually my lenses got the mist from the niagara fall so I remove that with the help of facial tissue.

    My lenses are
    18-55mm nikon
    55-200mm Nikon

    Please respond me as soon as possible because I am so scared. I have already ordered the lense cleaning pen and which is going to delivered to me pretty soon so I will use that in future and I have also ordered UV filter and lense hood

  • Patrick

    Brush: used only to clean outer parts of camera and lens, I was told years ago that a brush can pick up a particle that can later scratch a lens or filter.
    Lens tissue: wad it up like breaking an egg one handed, not touching the part that is going to clean the lens, then circular motion from center to outside to clean lens.
    Optical cleaning solution: a drop when needed, always to the tissue or cloth
    Larger pec pads to clean big lenses and then wipe off rest of the outside of lens and discard, one wet then one dry.
    Basically whatever is used to clean the lens is out of the box new.

  • Michael

    Many of the lens cleaning gear links you have posted are unavailable. Are there any others you recommend?

  • http://tuimages.co.nz Teri

    Just a quick note – cleaning by breath has been found harmful to the lens (by Nikon, though I’d imagine it applies to all lenses).

  • http://www.alexcoxall.com Alex

    I am now fully converted to the UV filter as protection. Dropped a lens climbing a crane (don’t ask) and smashed the filter to bits, no damage to the lens, it was a lucky escape as at the time it was the only lens with a filter on.

    Thanks for the advice as well

  • Roys Photos

    I never use a UV filter on any of my 53 lenses for one reason. They cause coma and flare in most situations and even the very most expensive of the lot are the worst ones. Lenses are made from ground glasses specific to the length of the lens and placing a flat peice of glass in front is yust plain stupid as it refects light waves in all directions even the best coatings do not work on flat glass with the exception of Polarizing Filters.

    UV Filters are a CASH GRAB,,,,period
    Plastic lens caps are cheap and better to protect your lens and there are flip up hinged ones now that are used on rifle scopes that are perfect for DSLR lenses. Lens Hoods work better and can absorb a bump or two as well.
    I store all my lenses with cheap UV on all of them as they are tighter not letting moisture in them.

  • http://www.amazon.com/?_encoding=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&linkCode=ur2&tag=dfgecvb-20 Janet

    I bought this one and it is just fine.
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AU6NFBU/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00AU6NFBU&linkCode=as2&tag=dfgecvb-20
    However, do not think that one can clean camera completely manually at home. Thus it does not really matter – you can clean with any kit which is on the market, and give it to professional cleaning service once a year (incl. matrix)

  • Johan Bauwens

    Spots on your lenses will only be visible on photos if they are big or the light is shining directly into the lens. I never had this problem !

  • http://www.ars-web.com/ Restaurant Hood Clenaing

    Today it is a different world out there in this business than it was 20 years ago. Now the regulations are real, they are enforced on both the hood cleaner and the restaurant owner. The NFPA wants the fire hazards gone. They want the problems to be history. This is a good goal but the smaller restaurants took a hit in this whole thing some restaurants have issues with the codes yet the systems are still able to be cleaned properly. So in a circumstance like this, what happens?

  • https://plus.google.com/+RemiZagariRemiZagari/posts Remi Zagari

    Great article. I never thought about using silica gel. Its interesting how many ppl dont give importance to cleaning your lens

Some older comments

  • Roys Photos

    August 21, 2013 12:30 pm

    I never use a UV filter on any of my 53 lenses for one reason. They cause coma and flare in most situations and even the very most expensive of the lot are the worst ones. Lenses are made from ground glasses specific to the length of the lens and placing a flat peice of glass in front is yust plain stupid as it refects light waves in all directions even the best coatings do not work on flat glass with the exception of Polarizing Filters.

    UV Filters are a CASH GRAB,,,,period
    Plastic lens caps are cheap and better to protect your lens and there are flip up hinged ones now that are used on rifle scopes that are perfect for DSLR lenses. Lens Hoods work better and can absorb a bump or two as well.
    I store all my lenses with cheap UV on all of them as they are tighter not letting moisture in them.

  • Alex

    May 30, 2013 02:54 pm

    I am now fully converted to the UV filter as protection. Dropped a lens climbing a crane (don't ask) and smashed the filter to bits, no damage to the lens, it was a lucky escape as at the time it was the only lens with a filter on.

    Thanks for the advice as well

  • Teri

    December 10, 2012 10:57 am

    Just a quick note - cleaning by breath has been found harmful to the lens (by Nikon, though I'd imagine it applies to all lenses).

  • Michael

    August 24, 2012 02:54 am

    Many of the lens cleaning gear links you have posted are unavailable. Are there any others you recommend?

  • Patrick

    August 7, 2012 03:59 pm

    Brush: used only to clean outer parts of camera and lens, I was told years ago that a brush can pick up a particle that can later scratch a lens or filter.
    Lens tissue: wad it up like breaking an egg one handed, not touching the part that is going to clean the lens, then circular motion from center to outside to clean lens.
    Optical cleaning solution: a drop when needed, always to the tissue or cloth
    Larger pec pads to clean big lenses and then wipe off rest of the outside of lens and discard, one wet then one dry.
    Basically whatever is used to clean the lens is out of the box new.

  • Ashish Tyagi

    December 29, 2011 12:36 pm

    I have cleaned the lense ( once) with the normal facial tissue. Although I have not notice any scratch or difference in image quality but just scared, would that be harmful ( I am not going to do that again ) actually my lenses got the mist from the niagara fall so I remove that with the help of facial tissue.

    My lenses are
    18-55mm nikon
    55-200mm Nikon

    Please respond me as soon as possible because I am so scared. I have already ordered the lense cleaning pen and which is going to delivered to me pretty soon so I will use that in future and I have also ordered UV filter and lense hood

  • Tinderbox (UK)

    July 17, 2011 01:21 am

    I found this guide today, it may help

    http://www.tribcsp.com/~sigma2/SensorDust01.html

  • ard

    July 16, 2011 02:36 pm

    hi, i have problem with my dslr. i already clean my lens twice ...seem like the dust still stick on my lens.. any tip?? please advice. thanks.

  • Björn Lindström

    April 15, 2011 06:16 pm

    For more selectively blowing away dust particles from your sensor, get a bulb syringe at a pharmacy.

  • cortlander

    March 25, 2011 12:30 pm

    Canon's EF Lens work book:

    http://software.canon-europe.com/files/documents/EF_Lens_Work_Book_7_EN.pdf

    Go to page 133: How to deal with flaring and ghosting particular to digital photography
    for a technical explanation on why glass in front of your lens will affect the optical quality.

  • cortlander

    March 25, 2011 12:10 pm

    I did come across an interesting article about filter use. The author supported his views with photographs. In summary, his research showed that the air thickness varied between curvature of the lens and the filter and it did affect the picture quality.

    This is a passionate topic for some, but to each his own.

  • Michael Peachey

    March 21, 2011 06:56 am

    UV Filters or no UV Filters?

    My own opinion? Mount a good one, even though it's a waste of money.

    Huh?

    A UV filter might help with damage if you drop or slam the lens against something. On the other hand, any hit of noticeable impact is going to deform the filter ring, making it difficult or impossible to remove from your lens without damaging the threads. And, any hit hard enough to damage the lens (and trust me I've dropped L glass from a camera bag without any effect) is going to damage the lens elements internally regardless of the filter. The only thing the filter could really help with is if you slam your lens into some sort of corner which would have hit the front element, but miraculously got saved because it hit the filter and shattered that instead.

    So, why mount one?

    Some day you're going to want to sell your lens on eBay or Craigslist, and you want to say the filter has been there since you bought it because that's what the buyer wants to hear.

    Or, you could just buy a crappy Tiffen UV filter for $8 when you're ready to sell the lens :-)

  • ArchiDEOS

    March 9, 2011 10:22 pm

    Great tips..Thanks.. I used a cleaning lens-kit and clean it whenever i see a lot of dust particle on my lens front glass...

    Regarding the use of filter, as fo rmy reseacrh, FILTER IS NOT DESIGN FOR LENS PROTECTION, and Lens maker did not consider to use filter for protection. Instead the lens hood and the lens cover is enough to protect the lens itselt. Filter also contribute vigneting, especially in a wide lens..whatever may be the brand.. That's why i never put any filter in my L's series glass. But you know, business is business, that why some people advice, specially the beginners to buy a filter for protection blah blah blah for their lens..

  • John

    February 7, 2011 06:53 am

    Oh Yeah, I forgot to mention you could use an spectical/glasses cleaning cloth as long as it new

    I found a bit grouptest of UV filters, it`s a couple of years old but it`s a good read.

    http://www.lenstip.com/113.1-article-UV_filters_test.html

  • John

    February 7, 2011 06:43 am

    A clean white cotton tea-shirt will should be fine to clean the external lens, dont even think about cleaning the internal surfaces without the correct equipment and knowledge. , just make sure there is no grit or other hard particles to scratch your lens, just breath on the lens if you need a bit of moisture.

    If you don't have a UV filter on your lens, i recommend you get one, I buy always by "HOYA UV(C) HMC Filter Multi Coated" they are good quality and quite cheap $20 or so.

  • Katy

    February 1, 2011 11:56 am

    So I was just out in the snow taking pictures and despite my best efforts ( wrapping my lens and body in saran wrap wrap and putting this in a ziplock and making a makeshift lens hood with stiff card stock) my lens is still slightly dirty to the point where I wish to clean it off. I read this article (it is very helpful) but unfortunately, as I am a beginner, I do not own any of these helpful lens cleaning tools. And as it is snowing, I cannot just go out and buy one. Is there any safe cloths that I could find around my house? Or is it just to risky? I am willing (*sniff*) to wait and buy some real equipment, but I would prefer to at least clean it a bit. So, yes please help, I would most appreciate it!

  • John

    January 28, 2011 05:47 am

    Get an lenspen , from ebay, ect, use the brush end to remove any dirt particles and then the other to buff out any smudges, buy an new pen every couple of cleans, their only $5 or so and will leave your lens perfect.

    I once read about an old-timer who use to drink some whiskey and then breath on the lens before cleaning it, and he swore by it :-)

  • Gene

    December 31, 2010 02:11 pm

    http://www.cleaningdigitalcameras.com/
    This is a good link to check out before you attempt to clean your sesor.

  • EllenK

    December 30, 2010 04:48 pm

    Instead of buying microfibre cloths, I get them from my optometrist's office. They usually give me a few if I ask. Sometimes these are promos from lens manufacturers like Nikon. I keep one in each of my many camera bags and backpacks. I throw them in the wash every now and then.

  • photoman123

    December 29, 2010 09:40 pm

    it's been 8 months since I got my DSLR with kit (18-55mm) and of course as a kit I don't think anyone would have thought of putting a protective filter in that lens (I don't too) so most of the time I smudge it with fingerprints, accumulates dust particles and lots of nasty stuffs to it but with the simple use of bulb blower before wiping it with microfiber cloth, it is really easy to clean and I never notice any scratch to it. Maybe that is why I don't think using a protective filter to lenses might be that good of an idea since it can cause ghosting flaring and thus reduces the image quality. We all have our own opinion though :P

  • milosh

    August 5, 2010 04:46 pm

    I have no idea! :) The same thing happened to my Nikon and I bought a dust blower to try to clean it, but now I see comments saying that's not a smart idea (because of the possibility to blow more dust onto it, which does make sense). I think I'll just leave it and wait for my chance to take it to an authorised service centre.

  • DarlaJ

    August 4, 2010 02:16 pm

    thank you...I will try another lens and see what happens. So, the sensor would need to be cleaned professionally too?

  • milosh

    August 4, 2010 01:59 pm

    @ darlaj: the spots you're mentioning sound like dust on your sensor and not something that's wrong with your lens. They're easiest to notice on clear blue sky shots. Try your camera with another lens and see if the spots are still there. Never attempt to disassemble the lens by yourself. Even If you manage to put it back together (but that's unlikely), it's optical quality will be impaired.

  • DarlaJ

    August 4, 2010 08:58 am

    I have not been using a UV filter on my Canon 28-135mm lens...didn't know I needed one (I'm a bit of a newbie) but I have gotten dust under the front of the lens and am not sure what to do??? There are shadow like spots on my photos..especially shows up on ones with blue sky. Is this something I can clean myself by taking the lens apart? I have been unable to find someone to clean the lens where I live..without sending it off somewhere.

  • Milosh

    July 25, 2010 04:06 pm

    Here's a solution to the breathing vs. alcohol debate, we could get drunk and then breath at the lens. :) Just kidding of course!

  • shekar_india

    March 26, 2010 06:25 pm

    How about using cotton, or cotton ear buds and normal water to clean lens?

  • etoile

    February 26, 2010 10:06 am

    I've followed all these instructions but my filter still looks streaky after I've cleaned and wiped it. Am I doing something wrong?

  • Geoff

    December 21, 2009 06:13 pm

    I always use a UV filter on my lenses but it's out of necessity more than anything. Reason being it's easier to remove a broken filter or clean a filter of a paintball than the front element of my lens.
    I have an older cheap lens that managed to get some residue of something on the back element, it seems to be coated so do you have any suggestions on cleaning it? I don't use that lens much except for family gatherings and such because it's a slower lens.

  • Scptt McNealy

    October 23, 2009 05:03 pm

    Hi, Great article and some good advice. I always opt for a UV filter for protection...and simply remove it if I feel or think the image can benefit from it. Does anyone have any experience cleaning the inside of the lens elements? I just recently bought a new Canon 18-200mm IS lens so that I would not have to change lenses and risk dust exposure to the sensor, but it seemed to be delivered with a small speck of dust on the inside which inevitably shows up in most photos. Any ideas? Thanks and keep up the good works, Scott at www.noboundaryphotography.co.uk.

  • Shayan Sanyal

    October 19, 2009 01:47 am

    I dropped my 40D with my 11mm-18mm, 500$ lens while in the Caribbeans. Sure, not a super high end lens, but for me that's some dough. I had a UV filter on it. It cracked. But that's all that happened. A 70$ filter cracked. My 500$ investment (discounting depreciation) was protected.

    If u have the luxury to drop 500-2000$ every time something bad happens to your lens, go for it. I don't have that luxury. It's not worth that "single stop of light" (use a tripod), use a hood (for those flares), etc.

    As far as cleaning is concerned: don't unless you must (or change filters :))

  • ladycaren

    September 18, 2009 12:46 pm

    I am quite surprised to see you suggest 'blowing' into the camera to remove any 'dust particles', I have been involved in electronics remanufacturing, and the first thing I was taught 20 years ago , was to NEVER blow into ANY electronic/machinery because the moisture from your breath will stay and can damage/rust out delicate metal components...
    That is why its so important to use the correct tools eg brush and blowers...

    PS..love your other hints I have just purchased a Pentax DSLR K2000 (have still got my old Pentax SLR SP1000)
    and I want to get the most out of my camera as possible..

  • Rick

    July 14, 2009 02:02 am

    Here's one for you - A friend of mine has an old lens that was stored in foam without a lens cap. Over the years, the foam broke down and stuck to the lens! What would you recommend for this situation?

  • Sime

    January 23, 2009 12:23 am

    Mr.Jade Cadelina - If you want to blow the dust further into your camera, sure. Use a mini vac or a static brush.

    Boogle - My mate dropped her 40D and 24-105L on her recent trip to Nepal... Had she not put a filter (daylight) on the front she'd have no front element in her lens now. I use filters and if they're not letting me take the shot I want, I remove them and put them back on right after I have the image I want. Simple.

    I stopped my friend blowing in his 1Ds MkIII the other day... (With his mouth!!) condensation city... ugh!

    Good article.

    Sime

  • Boogle

    January 22, 2009 09:54 pm

    The people claiming that filters radically reduce image quality have got to be raw beginners. Have you looked inside your lens? How many elements are in there? 13? 15? These aren't flat sheets of glass either, they're spherical/aspherical and loaded with various coats.

    So given these multiple non-flat elements, you're claiming that a single flat piece of glass is going to drop sharpness of 20% or more? Or that is stops a WHOLE stop of light? The only thing a cheap filter will do, other than protect the front element and create a weather seal on Canon L glass is.... add lens flare / ghosts. A quality filter will not harm image quality (its little more than an extra simple element added to the lens package), but it will be immensely helpful when in the field.

    If you're really worried about image quality you should be investing in a high-quality tripod and never hand-holding. You should also be using medium format or larger.

    Either way, the second one of these people drop their lens in the field, all of a sudden that filter they don't have will be worth its weight in gold. The 'it'll breack and scratch the front element' is a poor argument at best. What do you think BROKE the filter? It would sure as hell do immense damage to the front element anyway. But if the filter takes the hit instead of the front element, you've just saved a lot of money.

  • Mr.Jade Cadelina

    January 15, 2009 11:23 pm

    I know its being used to clean lenses but is an air blower ok to use on DSLR CCD?

  • Reed Skyler

    July 25, 2008 05:30 am

    I'm definitely against using filter for protection. I will not put anything in front of my lens if I have no reason to.

    Attaching any excess glass to the front of your lens will reduce image sharpness by 20% or more, depending on the filter that you use. It's optical law. Think about this, If you see through a single glass, compared to double glass, which one will allow you to see a cleaner and sharper image?

    Plus, when you drop your lens, and the filter breaks, the fine pieces of glass from your filter will scratch your lens, so either way you lose. I think the only reason why the camera dealer and salesman want you to consider purchasing UV filter for protection is because they want to make more sales and profit out of it.

    Attaching the lens hood will definitely help without sacrificing image sharpness. It will also protect the lens element when you drop your glass. Being cautious with your camera and glass will greatly help as well.

    For cleaning, I use a Giottos Large Rocket Blower and a Nikon Cleaning Pen, they both works perfect for cleaning my lens and sensor.

  • Paul @ http://www.photographyvoter.com

    August 22, 2007 08:48 pm

    Great article, even better debate - seen on www.photographyvoter.com

  • Ron

    June 18, 2007 12:35 am

    The microfiber cloth works ok for me, but I occasionally use pre-moistened lens cleaning tissues that I purchase in the eyedrops section of a discount store. Each tissue is folded and sealed in an individual packet, and I keep 3 or 4 in my camera bag. I prefer the Bausch + Lomb brand over the stiffer, cheaper brand.

    Does anyone know if these pre-moistened tissues are safe to use on the LCD screen? That's the worst cleaning job...facial oils aren't always removed by the microfiber cloth.

  • Puck

    June 15, 2007 03:43 am

    I must be all thumbs because I accidentally touch my lenses/ filters all the time. It makes me crazy. I am going to try the lenspen. When I use the microfiber cloth it just streaks and makes things worse.

  • John Zuki

    April 2, 2007 09:27 am

    An air blower is the best, hands have oil so don't touch the lens directly

  • Franco

    March 28, 2007 08:51 am

    Hi,

    Came accross your blog while doing a bit of BlogExplosion Surfing. Just
    wanted to compliment you on your blog. Good job.

    Cheers,

    Franco

  • David

    March 16, 2007 03:50 pm

    I think the best solution is not to get your lens dirty in the first place, (dust particles excluded. They can easily be blown off). Touching your lens with your fingers should mean 3 cuts with a cane on your behind!

  • Dave New

    March 14, 2007 06:09 am

    Thanks for the original article. I found that those obiquitious lens tissues don't do much except make Kodak richer. In particular, I could never get those tissues and the accompanying lens solution to dry streak-free on any of my multi-coated lenses or filters. Pretty useless (or worse than useless), in my book.

    Enter the microcloth. That one item has been a miracle worker. Now, even oily fingerprints just simply wipe off, with nary a trace. And, as long as you can keep your fingers (and the neighbor's kids' and dogs' noses) off your lens, then a simple swipe with a brush to knock the dust off now and then is all you need.

    One other comment about the original article. There was a link to a Hoya non-coated UV filter given. Non-coated filters are about the worst thing you can stick in front of a fine piece of glass (next to coated and multi-coated ones). The flares, multiple reflections and ghosting caused by the two new uncoated air-to-glass interfaces will at the least reduce the contrast of whatever you are taking, and at the worst, pretty much destroy the image. Use multi-coated filters (both sides), if you must use filters.

    I've pretty much stopped using any kind of filter on my lenses, except for a circular polarizer, when needed, mainly because it pretty much works against any kind of decent hood you may have on your lens. Placing the filter out there on the end of the lens will oft-times allow direct sunlight (or other bright light sources) to fall on the filter surface, decreasing contrast and perhaps producing flares, where a filter-less identical setup will have the front surface of the lens further recessed in the hood and/or the front of the lens housing. An assistant with a hat or hand held in the appropriate position can cure this problem, but sometimes it's almost impossible to keep them (or the hat) out of the shot, depending on the angle of the offending light.

    Now, as to the various comments. There certainly is a lot of hear-say and old-wive's tales in there. For instance, breathing or blowing on a lens is discouraged mainly because there is a tendancy to spit on it, thus making a bad situation even worse. I suppose depending on when one last brushed their teeth, they might start a fungus colony, as well. 8-)

    And whoever heard of a coating on a lens making it self-cleaning under UV light? What a remarkable discovery! I'd rush right out and patent it, but I don't think that anyone at the patent office would take me seriously.

    At least, some of the comments were good for a laugh...

  • NormMonkey

    March 13, 2007 06:29 am

    About silica gel:

    "Eventually silica gel will become saturated from humidity, and ADD to the overall humidity in your camera bag. The best thing to do is regularly expose your camera to light and fresh air."

    The latter is always a good idea.

    I don't think you need to worry about the former. Silica gel can become saturated but it remains dry even when so. On the other hand, if you're spending a day by the beach or you're out in rainy weather, you probably want that silica gel pack in with your equipment.

    Further, silica gel packs can be reused. You'll find that some of the beads are doped with a moisture indicant e.g. cobalt chloride. When dry it's bluish and changes to pinkish as it gets saturated.

    You can restore silica gel packs by evaporating the water out of them. Heat them at 150°C for a couple of hours to restore them (watch out for the ones in plastic baggies, though - the bag might melt and stick to your oven tray).

    Other fun stuff: silica gel is actually not toxic. Why, then, does it say "DO NOT EAT - THROW AWAY"? (a) the moisture indicant they dope it with IS toxic, but also (b) it's a *dessicant*. The human body is mostly water.

  • maggie

    March 10, 2007 05:29 am

    Wow great info. I have a question how do i keep the lent away from the lenses?
    Maggie

  • Nguyen Anh Dung

    March 9, 2007 09:50 pm

    Thank you for the instructions for cleaning lenses.But I have some ideas like this: is there any risk for promoting molds growing and for damaging the lens coating?

    Thank you very much

    Nguyen Anh Dung

  • David

    March 9, 2007 03:59 pm

    I did not see anything said about how to use lens tissue paper when cleaning a lens. I read a long time ago in a photo magazine that lens tissue is supposed to be rolled into a roll, then folded in half and then you tear the end off the folded end so that you end up with a frayed double ended roll. You use this end to wipe the lens with. Because it is lens tissue, you don't get any loose particles from the tearing process, (as you would with odinary tissue). Using a lens tissue flat, as is, will probably scratch you lens.

  • Derek

    March 9, 2007 08:39 am

    First off the breath method is not really reliable it streaks more than a fluid developed to evaporate(alcohol based usually). ALWAYS use a UV filter as mentioned, we have looked at many of the high cost filter under scopes, dont waste your money, mid priced is the way to go. For one you can replace it as soon as it shows wear or scratches. What is better, a $400 filter that is getting scratches or a $80 filter that you can replace before the quality degrades from wear?

    "puplet" said above that they were noticing a full stop difference in light when using a UV or Sky filter, you probably need a new meter. No way you should get that type of result even with inexpensive filters. As for glass being hard and wearing well...are you a hobbyist? Not to be mean, but invest in the filter, I see inexperience talking. UV cut filters are inside most digital cameras now, thats not why pros use them, the main reason is damage protection for our thousands of dollars of glass.

  • Hitesh Sawlani (hitkaiser)

    March 9, 2007 06:22 am

    I use HAMA + Jessops Filters, they do fine, I haven't noticed a quality difference with and without

    Its much easier to clean the filter as well and I'm not afraid to "break" it

    For cleaning I use one of those "cleaning pens", its compact and it works well..

    But honestly, im a slob, I've cleaned my camera like twice in 6months.. but you know what? Its fine, the images come out fine...

  • Paul

    March 7, 2007 10:25 pm

    UV filters are unnessesary on digital cameras, also the lens has coatings that clean the lens with uv light so cutting out UV actualy makes your lens need cleaning more often.

  • Etan

    March 7, 2007 02:31 pm

    A nice article, and considering the sensitive nature of the content.. allow me to add some of my own comments / elaborations:

    "Cleaning your camera’s lenses should be a regular part of any camera owner’s maintenance",

    unfortunately I believe it is better to avoid cleaning until absolutely necessary. Even with light cleaning, the delicate chemical coatings on optics will rub off eventually. Hence the UV filter advice.. which is better.

    Speaking of which "in addition to it cutting out UV light"... all DSLR sensors already have a UV filter on the actual sensor. A UV filter probably doesn't help your photo.. just get a high quality one that won't degrade the image.

    "Silica Gel".. bad.. don't use!

    Eventually silica gel will become saturated from humidity, and ADD to the overall humidity in your camera bag. The best thing to do is regularly expose your camera to light and fresh air. Keeping your lenses locked away in a camera bag will eventually result in fungus if you are in a humid climate.

  • Puplet

    March 7, 2007 11:54 am

    With regards to high-end filters, Ray, I was thinking along the lines of the B+W MRC filters, or filters from Hoya's Pro 1D range. For rainy environments, I'd go for one of the MRC filters.

    Such filters are a massive investment though - you might find an on-line bargain but a price tag of £50-70 wouldn't surprise me. It seems false economy to put them on lenses that could be replaced for £150-200, and then, for me at least, a shame to put them on anything more expensive...

  • Darren

    March 7, 2007 11:38 am

    watto - not sure what your breath is like - but it seems to work for me :-)

    The key is to make sure you don't leave your lens with moisture on it - wipe it down so it's dry and then let it air itself for a while and you should be right. Use the silicone sachets in your camera bag to be extra sure.

  • Wally

    March 7, 2007 09:41 am

    The thing I look for in a 'skylight' or UV filter is multicoating. I use HOYA multicoated filters on all but my most wide-angle lenses (where they can cause vignetting).

    If you take pics near the ocean like I often do, having a filter on the lens eliminates the possibility of salt corrosion eating the optical coating on the lens.

  • Watto

    March 7, 2007 09:33 am

    > simply breathing on your lens and then wiping with a cloth is a safer method for cleaning it

    And it is also a nice method to develop fungus on the lens...

    Don't do that ...

  • googlit

    March 7, 2007 06:58 am

    I always use the UV filters... if not just out of habit. One downside, though (and this might not apply to the high-end brands) is reflections. If there are small points of light in my scene, I will occasionally get a ghosting of the light on the opposite side, which can totally ruin an image. I'm personally up in the air right now on whether or not to stick with the filters. For the time being, they stay on.

  • Darren

    March 7, 2007 06:38 am

    Desmond - I would clean my sensor professionally once a year - twice if it gets too out of control. I also do a little of my own cleaning from time to time.

    In terms of lenses - I've not had any professionally cleaned to this point as I've managed to keep them up to scratch myself.

    Ray - I don't have my camera with me right now (I'm in bed as I type this) but I use Hoya filters - they have a few different levels of filter, I think there's one 'superfine' or 'super...something' type which is what I have on my L-series lenses.

  • Desmond

    March 7, 2007 06:10 am

    How often would you think it is necessary to have lenses and sensor cleaned professionally. I do a great deal of outdoor shots with filter.

  • Ray

    March 7, 2007 05:10 am

    Suggestions for "higher end filters" that I would want to consider?

  • Puplet

    March 7, 2007 05:09 am

    Definitely against UV filters, except the very finest. How to decide whether you've got a good one? Mount camera and lens on tripod, take meter reading of a well lit subject, then hold the filter in front. Typically, I've found that any filter any £40 will make you lose about a stop or so in light.

    Almost all digital camera sensors filter out UV light anyway, so there's no mechanical reason to have a filter on (this argument is a throwback to film days when they really did cut out UV).

    As for possible damage - modern glass is deceptively hard-wearing, much more so than older lenses that could tarnish quite easily. Also, even though it may not look pretty, it takes LOTS of dirt and damage on the lens translate into a discernible drop in image quality (if you don't believe me, get your cheapest lens and, very carefully, put fingerprints all over the front element, then take a picture).

    I'd use a UV filter if I was in the rain a lot - they're easier to wipe - and the best ones actively wick away water...

    One idea that wasn't mentioned in the above article was the fabulous Lenspen lens cleaning pen. Brush on one end, patented carbon-based compound on the other - works an absolute treat and they're cheap too (particularly on Amazon and eBay, not on the high-street).

    Lenspen, no filter, and a lenshood: works for me, feel free to do something different though!

  • Jordan Meeter

    March 7, 2007 01:31 am

    Great list, thanks a lot. I will definitely be referencing this in the future!

    Jordan

  • mdwsta4

    March 7, 2007 12:05 am

    poor quality filters can degrade image quality. if you buy a $5 one off ebay, what do you expect? higher end filters cost more partly because they do not degrade image quality.

    as far as cleaning goes, some glass cleaner and a microfiber towel are all i need. never had problems with smudges or streaks. then use copperhill images' products to clean the sensor

  • ROB

    March 6, 2007 03:52 pm

    Totally agree with the comment regarding blower brush on the inside of a camera. I know this is about lens cleaning but the word of warning is clear - I purchased a new blower for a sensor clear, put the camera into sensor clean mode and watched the new blower shoot something staight into the camera. Use much caution!

    Now onto filters. I definitely use them, they are easy to clean (by removing), if they get damaged they are much cheaper than a lens.

    If you are spending serious $ on a lens though I would certainly say to spend money on a decent filter. That said there is value for money and not so much value for money out there in filter land.

  • Bail

    March 6, 2007 12:38 pm

    To matt.

    The excess glass does not "Reduce" the quality of a photo. As of matter of fact they help by blocking out some of the UV rays that could alter an image.

    If the lens were dropped without a Filter the results are even worse! You will be breaking the optics instead of a filter. So either way you lose.

  • matt

    March 6, 2007 11:33 am

    I've read several conflicting opinions on the use of filters to protect lenses. The argument against these is that the excess glass can reduce the image quality and give further surfaces to collect dust and smudges. I've also heard of instances where a lens has been dropped and damage caused as a result of the filter breaking and scratching the lens as a result. It'd be interesting to see how common this opinion is...

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