Whenever you go for an outdoor shoot there is a good chance that your camera lens and filter will pick up dust, dirt and fingerprints. You don’t need to give it to the service centre for cleaning. You can do it by yourself, provided you use the right technique to clean camera lens and filter. The wrong method for camera lens cleaning may result in scratches on the glass.
Equipment used to Clean Camera Lens
1. Air Blower
2. Lens Cleaning Pen
3. Lens Cleaning Brush (If you don’t have a Lens cleaning Pen)
4. Lens Cleaning Fluid
5. Muslin Cloth/Micro Fiber Cloth (Lens Cleaning Cloth)
I have already covered the details of these five things in the article, 12 Ways to Take care of your Camera Lens. So, you can refer to this article for a better understanding of the equipment.
How to Clean Camera Lens?
Now, let us see how to clean a camera lens.
Setting up the Environment
The most important thing to do before starting the camera lens cleaning is to set the perfect environment for cleaning. The room used for lens cleaning should be clean and must not have any floating dust particles.
The humidity level of the room should not be high. Use a good clean table to clean the camera lens.
Make sure that you have kept the lens separated from the camera body. We will be taking the lens alone for cleaning.
Cleaning the Front Side Glass
You should be very careful while cleaning the front glass. Any small mistake can result in leaving scratches on the glass.
Use the Air blower first to blow off the loose dust particles and specks in the glass. Once this is done, use the brush on the lens camera cleaning pen on the glass. Use Air Blower one more time to remove the specks.
Now, do a visual inspection to check the presence of dust particles. If yes, then repeat the same steps.
Otherwise, look for fingerprints on the glass. If there are any, then use the Carbon tip side of the lens cleaning pen to remove it. You should use the carbon tip side on the glass part. Using it on other exterior elements will reduce the carbon tip life.
If you don’t have a lens cleaning pen, then spray some lens cleaning liquid into the cleaning cloth and use it to remove the smudges.
Once the glass cleaning is complete, clean the lens front cap also with brush and blower. It is to ensure that the dust on the lens cap doesn’t fall onto the lens. Place the lens cap back on the lens after cleaning.
Cleaning the Backside of Lens (Contacts Side)
The backside of the lens contains gold plated metal tabs, which are the electrical contact points for autofocus and communication with the camera body. So, make sure that you don’t use any hard object which can scratch these contacts.
Hold the lens in such a way that the backside is facing down. Blow dry air using the air blower to remove dust particles. Use the brush side of the lens cleaning pen to remove specks which are stuck.
You can see another glass piece, which is a little inside. Use brush and blower combination to clean this part. Do a visual inspection on this glass piece for handprints. If you see any, use the carbon tip of the lens cleaning pen to remove it.
Some lens may have a felt coating on the inner walls. So, don’t use any lens cleaning solution on the inner walls. It can damage this felt material.
The outer ring on the backside will be of plastic or metal. So, you can use the air blower and brush combination to clean.
Once the lens cleaning is complete, clean the rear lens cap also with brush and blower. Close the back end of the lens with the lens cap after cleaning.
Cleaning the Lens Exterior
Before cleaning the lens exterior, make sure that you close the front and rear part of the lens with the respective caps. If you have any camera lens hood attached to the lens, keep it separate.
Use the cleaning brush to clean the exterior. Use it on the edges of the focus ring and zoom ring. Edges are the places where more dust will accumulate, and they can later affect the movement of these rings. So, clean it properly using the brush and air blower.
There will be switches on the lenses. So, you should clean these areas also. Move the switch to different positions and do the cleaning.
Make use of the Muslin Cloth/ Microfiber cloth, at last, to wipe out the remaining particles.
NOTE: If you are using any lens coat to protect your lens, then you should remove it entirely before starting the cleaning process. You should also clean this lens coat before putting it back to the lens.
Cleaning the Camera Lens hood
If your lens comes with a lens hood, then you should clean it too. Lens hood comes in three materials: Plastic, Metal, and Rubber.
If your lens hood is a plastic one, which is the most common, you can clean it using the lens cleaning cloth. You can clean the edges and grooves with the brush.
If the lens hood has felt material inside, then don’t use the lens cleaning cloth inside, use it only on the outside. For felt, use the brush and blower combination to remove the dust. You can use the same procedure for metal lens hood also.
If the hood is a rubber one then, use air blower and brush combination alone for cleaning.
How to Clean Camera Lens Filters?
Now, let us see how to clean camera filters?
Take out the camera filter separately. Keep it on your left hand in such a way that only your fingers are touching the external metal ring of the filter. You shouldn’t touch the glass side with your fingers.
Use the cleaning brush to remove the loose dust particles on both sides of the filter. Use the air blower for final speck removal.
Do, a visual inspection to ensure that there are no specks. Look for fingerprints. If there are any, use the carbon tip to remove it.
The other option is to apply a couple of lens cleaning solution sprays to the lens cleaning cloth and use the cloth to rub off the fingerprints. You should rub gently.
Keep the lens filter safely, either in its pouch or attached to the lens, after cleaning.
What not to use to Clean Camera Lens?
Let us have a look at the list of things which you should not use to clean Camera Lens
Some people may feel that canned air can be a good substitute for Air Blower. But this won’t be a good option.
The air release force from the can is more than the Air blower. So, it may push the dust inside, especially when you are cleaning the exterior part.
Blowing Air from Mouth
When you blow air from your mouth, there will be some amount of saliva particles along with the air. So, it is more like spraying water particles to the lens, which is not suitable for the lens.
Using Any Cleaning Fluid
There are other cleaning fluids like spectacle lens cleaning fluid. Don’t use it as a substitute for the regular lens cleaning liquid. It may harm your glass.
Don’t use plain water on the lens cleaning cloth for cleaning. The water drops may settle near the edges and can enter the lens interior. So, it may result in fungus formation inside the glass and will affect the image quality.
Tissue Paper/ Any Cloth
Don’t use a Tissue paper or any ordinary cloth to clean camera lens.
If you rub the lens with a tissue paper, then the small particles from the tissue paper may get settled on the lens grooves and edges, especially when you use it with a lens cleaning liquid.
The surface of the ordinary cloth can be rough. So, it can leave scratches on the lens.
Now, you know how to clean camera lens and different equipment for lens cleaning. So, next time, follow this procedure for lens cleaning and do it yourself.
It is always good to keep a couple of lens cleaning cloth in your camera bag when you are going for a shoot. The lens can get really dirty if you are into wildlife or bird photography.
NOTE: Never use this method to clean the interior parts of a dismantled lens. You may end up in breaking the lens.