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Nikon support advises against breathing on a lens:
While human breath is mainly composed of nitrogen, oxygen and carbon dioxide, analysis shows it also contains VOCs (volatile organic compounds) including isoprene, acetone and ethanol, methanol and other alcohols.
It's likely that your breath "works" to clean the lens because it's not like any other cleaning fluid. It's the same temperature as your body (98F) and it contains alcohols. The article above says it contains acids, which I would guess are just particles of saliva atomized in your breath. There's no doubt saliva contains acids--just spit on your car's paint job, wait a...Show more →
I got a good laugh out of this... ;-)
I know of virtually no photographers who baby their lenses when cleaning them. The breath and cloth method is the most common method by far, and it has worked without problems for decades. (Perhaps Nikon is worried about some sort of product liability if they say such thing?)
Another really important issue. Many folks who are new to this are way too obsessive about lens cleaning. I don't mean just in regards to trying to find specialized tools and fluids for cleaning lenses, but they simply worry way too much about trying to keep a pristine lens.
The fact of the matter is that a bit of "stuff" on the front element produces no visible effect at all on your photograph in virtually any situation. One exception might be if you have a lot of largish dust particles on the front element and certain low angle light comes across the front of the lens, in which case you might get a bit of something like flare. If so, take out your trusty lens cloth and gently wipe it off.
I carefully clean lenses with whatever soft cloth I have handy. Typically this might be something like a microfiber cloth, though I don't hesitate at all to use the sleeve of a cotton t-shirt. Yesterday I was out in the middle of a meadow filled with freezing fog when I noticed a bit of a smear on the front element of my 70-200... so I used a gentle wipe from my glove to deal with it.
Edited on Jan 04, 2013 at 07:52 AM · View previous versions