A question about lens cleaning???

       2       3       end

Registered: Dec 06, 2012
Total Posts: 32
Country: United States

I have a 100-400 lens among others, I guess the lens doesn't matter. What is the best way to clean a lens. I have tried everything from polishing cloths included in lens kits specifically for lens cleaning, a cloth included with expensive glasses, 100% cotton T-shirts, kleenex, I have literally tried everything.

I can't seem to get the smudges off. I know they are not permanent smudges. These polishing cloths just seem to exacerbate and spread the smudges. Dust is not the problem. Just the smudges.

Registered: Mar 15, 2006
Total Posts: 486
Country: United States

Just breathe.

Seriously, warm breath and a microfiber cloth does the best.
One time I got a stubborn coffee spot on a lens and it needed a drop of "Eclipse" optical fluid. Get it at your friendly local camera shop.

Registered: Feb 10, 2005
Total Posts: 28207
Country: Canada

If it won't come off with a bit of breath fog, then try a light spritz of eyeglass cleaner. If that won't do it, then get some ROR (residual oil remover).

Ben Horne
Registered: Jan 10, 2002
Total Posts: 12127
Country: United States

The moisture from your breath along with a microfiber is all you need really. If that won't get it off.... then I have no clue what you have on the front of your lens. The only thing I can think of is that you might be cleaning a multicoated filter on the front of the lens rather than the lens itself. Some of those filters are very hard to clean --- the Hoya HMC line in particular.

On another note, many lenses are damaged by overzealous cleaning. Be careful with what you do, and keep in mind that it'll all be invisible to the camera anyway.

Registered: Dec 06, 2012
Total Posts: 32
Country: United States

Yeah, I'm not using a filter, and yes I am aware and wary of cleaning or polishing too much. I will try the breath thing. I don't think I have a microfiber cloth though. I'll find one.

Thank you

Registered: Jan 28, 2005
Total Posts: 11353
Country: Canada

If the smudges are moving around, but not coming off, you will have to patiently work at it as follows:

Take your favourite tissue or clean soft cloth (call both a "cloth") and your favourite fluid. Wet a spot or part of the cloth with the fluid, or blow (without spitting) breath to condense on the lens. Dab gently at the spot, once, with the cloth. Shift to a new spot on the cloth. Repeat.

By patiently working in this way, you pick up a bit at a time and soon enough you will get it all. Then wash the cloth or discard the tissue(s).

Registered: Nov 17, 2012
Total Posts: 8
Country: United States

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 day and try to clean it off--it has etched into the clear coat. (How do I know this?...)
So while breathing on your lens might work, it probably isn't the best idea in case it's actually etching the multi coating off the glass.

Registered: Apr 11, 2012
Total Posts: 72
Country: United States

Here is my routine:

- Rocket blower + lens-pen brush to remove dust
- Roscoe Lens Cleaner Solution + Roscoe Lens Tissue

Works like a charm every time.

Registered: Sep 25, 2009
Total Posts: 4120
Country: New Zealand

drphilgandini wrote:
Nikon support advises against breathing on a lens:.

They got debunked and retracted that.

Paul Mo
Registered: Dec 12, 2012
Total Posts: 5975
Country: Thailand

I haven't used it in ages because I find my EF lenses different to my old Nikkors, but this, when used properly, is excellent; Opticlean.

Registered: Sep 15, 2003
Total Posts: 1689
Country: United States

Spit and a handkerchief

Registered: Mar 01, 2011
Total Posts: 1374
Country: N/A

If you still have smudges on your lens, I would suggest trying this stuff called "ROR Residual Oil Remover." Most of the major online camera retailers sell it. I've found the stuff to be great. I just got a smudge off that I've had on a lens for about 4 years

As far as what cloth to clean it with, opinions vary, but I like Pec Pad Photo Wipes the best.

Good luck!

Registered: Apr 03, 2009
Total Posts: 5927
Country: United States

I just use a clean white cloth

Registered: Jan 28, 2005
Total Posts: 11353
Country: Canada

LDRider wrote: Spit and a handkerchief

Using spit would be very stupid.

That is very bad advice.

Registered: Sep 06, 2007
Total Posts: 28617
Country: Canada

Tough smudges require a lens cleaning solution such as ROR.
In addition, any smear streaks left by ROR can be cleaned with a broad tipped Lenspen.

That is the only way I know of to get glass crystal clear again.

In all this it is very important to use clean micro fiber lens cloths, and a fresh/clean Lenspen.

Registered: Nov 29, 2003
Total Posts: 789
Country: United States

LDRider wrote:
Spit and a handkerchief

That's the way my dad cleaned my face when I was a kid. I hated that.

Registered: Mar 15, 2011
Total Posts: 140
Country: United States

As a glasses wearer, and a engineer, I tried for years to find a method to clean my glasses.

This is similar to cleaning the lens of my camera.

My concern was that many methods of daily cleaning would destroy the surface of the glasses.
Paper towels have long fibers of cellulose, strong enough to scratch the glass. Many people use paper towels, many people get to replace their glasses.

Bathroom TP has incredibly short fibers of cellulose. This product is concocted with short fibers for comfort during its "other use". I have found that with daily use of TP, my glasses are still scratch free after as much as 1500 cleanings.

I do not use micro fiber, as it is almost impossible to keep gritty contaminants from almost instantly turning microfiber into "sandpaper". Microfiber is a "dust magnet".

If I could buy microfiber in a pack, like tissues come in, single use and disposable, then microfiber would be #1 for lens cleaning.

As for the ideal cleaning solution, Sears sells some concoction that seems to be ideal for not streaking the surface and has great packaging. They sell it in their glasses "booth". It comes with a small pocket size atomizer, and a refill bottle. Plus, they will refill the refill bottle for free!! WOOT!

The solution seems to have a great evaporation rate, well suited to cleaning a lens, as well as my laptop.

No more tee shirt wiping for me!!

Registered: Jun 23, 2008
Total Posts: 3526
Country: United States

You can buy micro fibre, by the pack, at Sam's Club very cheap.

If you are concerned about the micro fibre becoming contaminated you can cut the large cloths into small ones and dispose of them after use.

Micro fibre is also great to clean the screen on your computer, laptop, and iPad.

Registered: Oct 21, 2011
Total Posts: 392
Country: United Kingdom

+1 for ROR for stubborn marks.

I usually give my lenses a once over with ROR every few months, depending on use and location of use just to keep them mint. Might be a bit of over kill, but I baby my gear.

A rocket blower is useful to blowing off any dust / grit if you have a particularly dirty lens to start with.

Registered: Apr 30, 2002
Total Posts: 6077
Country: United States

Checkout the LensPens.

I think they now have some carbon dust that helps with a good cleaning


       2       3       end