5 tips to keep your camera lens clean

July 29, 2015

A clean camera lens is an important part of camera maintenance. Taking good care of it will help ensure you snap plenty more of those crisp, clean shots.

5 tips to keep your camera lens clean

1. Don’t touch the lens

It's the first law of photography, and it's worth repeating: Keep your fingers off the lens. A greasy fingerprint on your camera or camcorder lens can distort photos and videos, and most attempts to clean it off will probably result in scratching the glass.

2. Wipe off fingerprints

  • To clean fingerprints, apply a few drops of photo-lens cleaning fluid or ethanol alcohol onto a lens-cleaning cloth (choose a microfibre cloth, if available).
  • Gently wipe the lens with the cloth in a circular motion.
  • Never apply the fluid directly to the lens; it will make it more difficult to clean by spreading any dirt into the edges.
  • High concentrations of cleaner may also damage the lens' coating.
  • Be sure to wipe off any remaining cleaner with a dry part of the cloth; letting the cleaner evaporate can leave streaks on the glass.

3. Clean the lens with care

  • Use a special lens-cleaning cloth or tissue, which can be picked up at most photography stores. Do not use paper towels, facial tissues, shirts or jackets. Also avoid using chemically treated eye-glass cleaning cloths, as they may scratch the lens or harm its protective coating.
  • Before you wipe the lens with either a lens cloth or tissue, turn your camera upside down and use a blower bulb or blower brush to remove any dirt, dust or sand from the lens. These are available at most photo shops and electronics stores.
  • A combination of blowing and brushing usually works best, although you should always start by using just the blower because it can remove loose material without coming into contact with the glass.
  • When using a blower brush, take care to protect the brush from dust and oils (including those on your fingers). If you suspect a brush may be dirty, clean it with rubbing alcohol and let it dry before using it.

4. Use a flashlight to inspect detachable lenses

  • Want to see exactly how much dirt and dust is on the lens, or perhaps nail down the exact location of that annoying fingerprint? Shine a high-powered flashlight through the back of your detached lens. If the lens is perfectly clean, the light will travel straight through it. Unless you live in a sterile environment, you're likely to see something, and anything that's illuminated by the flashlight doesn't belong there.
  • A few miniscule dust particles won't necessarily interfere with your pictures (if you can count the number of dust specks on your lens, no action is usually necessary).
  • If there are too many to count or if you see smudges or blockages over a discernible area of the lens, clean it.

5. Always use a lens cap

  • As soon as you're finished shooting, put on your camera's lens cap or close the built-in lens cover. On an SLR also do so when changing lenses. This will minimize the lens' exposure to dust and dirt, and could protect it from scratches and impact damage.
  • If you own high-end equipment, consider using lens hoods on all your lenses, as well as an eyecup for your camera's viewfinder. Make sure the accessories are made for or compatible with your camera before buying them.
  • These items can add years of use to your gear by protecting it from skin oils, dust and airborne pollutants. They can also reduce the amount of extraneous light reaching your eye and your photos. With a lens hood, you'll get fewer washed-out looking outdoor shots.

Take the time to properly protect and care for your camera lens and keep those shots coming!

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