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View Poll Results: how do you clean your lenses?
lens tissue only 23 5.96%
lens tissue and lens cleaner (liquid) 76 19.69%
lens brush and/or air 58 15.03%
microfiber or similiar "new fangled" cloth 121 31.35%
whatever shirt you happen to have on 71 18.39%
i don't clean my lenses 37 9.59%
Voters: 386. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-25-2008   #41
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carefully.
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Old 03-25-2008   #42
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I spray some Zeiss lens cleaner on a microfiber cloth and wipe the lens, then use a dry part of the cloth to wipe the remaining cleaner off. Then I use canned air to remove dust particles. I do this about once a month or so, or if I manage to smudge a lens. I've never cleaned a rear element, only blew canned air at it.
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Old 03-25-2008   #43
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In restoring vintage equipment, I have recieved cameras with things like tar, paint, chicken crap, dried sodapop and what I hope was dried beef soup on the lenses (and the mirrors and sometimes even the focusing screens). No, I'm not kidding. One folding camera I did for a friend who found it in a barn even had the remains of a bird's nest in the back. What works for me, for an initial cleaning (after brushing and blowing), is a big box of Q-tips and some solvents. I've used naptha for removing oil based paint and grease (especially good for fingerprints). I use alcohol for removing cigarette tar, ink, the remains of crumbled light seal material, and pine pollen. I use a 50/50 mix of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia for removing lens fungus. I use distilled water for just about everything else. I start in the middle of the lens and work outward, twisting the swabs as I go, so as to keep a fresh surface against the lens and lift the crud away from the glass and not rub grit against it. Each swab end is thus good for only one stroke and I go through a LOT of swabs. When I am done, it is absolutely clean though, with no scratches.

Last edited by FallisPhoto : 03-25-2008 at 18:03. Reason: line editing
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The Magic of Filters
Old 03-25-2008   #44
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The Magic of Filters

I try to protect my lenses with filters (drilled into me from my dad) and when that fails I will:

- Try air blower
- Use a light brush
- Clean with OptiClean (great stuff)

I know that the filter method may not be ideal for some (more glass) but it's worked nicely for me. I do pul my filter off my Noct for night shots

Kent

ps- Prefer Heliopan filters.
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Old 03-26-2008   #45
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-use one of those 'hurricane' blowers to blow off the dust
-breathe on it, use q-tips (natural cotton only), wipe the lens with a circular motion starting at the center and towards the edges. keep breathing, he, he...
-no pressure, change q-tips often
-never touch the cotton with your fingers or anything else
-for stubborn saliva or anything else spots, use a tiny drop of kodak lens cleaning liquid.
-repeat until clean
-test: breathe on the lens. do you see irregular patterns?
1. yes -> keap cleaning
2. no -> go shooting :-)

the same procedure for digital sensors. you'll need a tweezers and a piece of tape at the end to carefully pick up lints. the rest you can blow off by a hurricane blower. (don't try this at home!)

ps no uv or any protective filters. full quality of my lenses that should not last longer then i do anyway ;->>>
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Old 04-01-2008   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fdigital View Post
blower and microfiber if needed. Very safe with modern glass and coatings.
Most of the people on this site refuse to move into the 21st century, and as a consequense, very few of us here are using modern cameras. A blower and microfiber cloth are not very safe on older lenses, particularly bloomed or soft-coated lenses.
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Old 04-02-2008   #47
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it only makes sense to clean your lenses if:
1: you get one second hand that is desperately dirty
2: you wanna sell a lens
3: you drop the lens in some kind of serious gunk. Or your dog licks it.
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Old 05-01-2008   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pherdinand View Post
it only makes sense to clean your lenses if:
1: you get one second hand that is desperately dirty
2: you wanna sell a lens
3: you drop the lens in some kind of serious gunk. Or your dog licks it.
I disagree with #3. Dog licks are responsible for that famous Leica glow.
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Old 05-01-2008   #49
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This is one of those polls where the OP could not possibly list all the options. I have one of those large blower bulbs which I use first, then canned air if available, then newfangled cloth and moisture condensed from my breath. But my lenses don't need cleaning that often. . .

Ben, who does not use filters
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Old 05-01-2008   #50
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1.) use a handblower on all glass surfaces--NOT compressed air
2.) dip Q-tip in pure Acetone and wipe in a circular motion w/ one end
3.) dry w/ the other end
4.) repeat 2 & 3 w/ another Q-tip
5. repeat 2, 3 & 4 using one qt. distilled water w/ a drop or two of liquid dishwashing detergent
6. admire your work
7.) do the above as little as possible!!!!!!!!

NEVER use a microfiber cloth--too many cheapo/ fake ones on the mkt.
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Old 05-02-2008   #51
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I really like the panties idea. Makes for stares on the street though.

Whenever I get a new (to me) lens, the first thing I do is blow it off, hit it w/ a soft brush, wipe off any blemishes w/ a soft cloth, and screw on a UV filter. Should never have to clean it again. A tiny bit of lens cleaner solution (the kind in the cheapo blister packs that are sold partnered up w/ lens tissue and a brush/blower combo) on a torn tissue for the hardest parts. I once made the mistake of putting the fluid directly on the front element and it seeped into the lens and stained the back of the glass.

That was nothing compared to the time I found an old beat up Canon L zoom in a thrift store, and tried to clean the really dirty front glass by holding it under the sink faucet.
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Old 05-02-2008   #52
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it's not good and not necessary cleaning lenses too often. Dust and little spots are not seen on the photos. I only clean if too many spots are on it. Of course I do not use filters but lens hoods.
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Old 05-02-2008   #53
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I just lately discovered Zeiss pre-moistened lens cloths: they work great, really!
They are especially designed for multi-layer coatings cleaning, gentle and hard-hitting at the same time.
I've also used for cleaning a dirty mirror in my Olympus SRL.

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Old 05-15-2008   #54
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My approach depends on what's on the lens.

Dust -> blower
Fingerprints, oil -> Lenspen
Dried liquid spots, etc -> ROR & lens tissue

I fog the lens with my breath and wipe with lens tissue to remove the ROR residue. I don't like brushes because they pick up oil if you touch them and there's no way to clean it off. Eventually you start brushing oil on your lenses.
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Old 05-15-2008   #55
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I remember reading years ago about a fellow who was really into car detailing. I think the article was in Road & Track. Anyway, this guy wanted to find out which type/brand of soap left the least residue on the car's finish. So to test things he used the soap to clean, believe it or not, his contact lenses. The contacts were of the hard type, but it always did strike me as a bit extreme. Ivory Liquid left no residue.
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Old 05-15-2008   #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arbib View Post
"Clean with an Old clean 100% cotton T-Shirt"
What's wrong with the undershirt (Hanes) I'm wearing?
It's always clean, and you can't beat the convenience.
Been doing it for 30 years, and it hasn't scratched yet...

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Old 05-16-2008   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mwooten View Post
I remember reading years ago about a fellow who was really into car detailing. I think the article was in Road & Track. Anyway, this guy wanted to find out which type/brand of soap left the least residue on the car's finish. So to test things he used the soap to clean, believe it or not, his contact lenses. The contacts were of the hard type, but it always did strike me as a bit extreme. Ivory Liquid left no residue.
The only things that leave no residue are things that evaporate completely (pure naptha, pure alcohol, distilled water, and etcetera). Ivory soap doesn't evaporate completely. Maybe it leaves a clear residue, or a unnoticable residue, but it doesn't leave no residue.
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Old 05-16-2008   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto View Post
The only things that leave no residue are things that evaporate completely (pure naptha, pure alcohol, distilled water, and etcetera). Ivory soap doesn't evaporate completely. Maybe it leaves a clear residue, or a unnoticable residue, but it doesn't leave no residue.
But lighter fluid would have been a bit rough for the the guy's contact lens test
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Old 05-16-2008   #59
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Professionally, in optics cleaning e.g. cleaning high reflectance laser mirrors one use methyl-alcohol (methanol).
It's quite poisonous, though.

Acetone is a good solvent and does not harm glass, but it does harm sone organic materials which as said above might be used in the lens housing, in paint, etcetera. Additionally, acetone evaporates way too fast therefore you cannot wipe the dissolved junk off the lens before this happens, so you end up with well-distributed junk.

When we use acetone (even boiling acetone sometimes) to clean silicone chips we always transfer the chip into isopropanol which is of high purity, a reasonable solvent, and dries much slower. Then we blow-dry it.

Ethanol (the alcohol stuff in your booze) is not pure alcohol - cannot be completely separated from water. It is also not the best solvent. So, it can be used to clean lenses, but it's less efficient and you must wipe or blow it off for removing all junk.
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Old 06-20-2008   #60
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill58 View Post
1.) use a handblower on all glass surfaces--NOT compressed air
2.) dip Q-tip in pure Acetone and wipe in a circular motion w/ one end
3.) dry w/ the other end
4.) repeat 2 & 3 w/ another Q-tip
5. repeat 2, 3 & 4 using one qt. distilled water w/ a drop or two of liquid dishwashing detergent
6. admire your work
7.) do the above as little as possible!!!!!!!!

NEVER use a microfiber cloth--too many cheapo/ fake ones on the mkt.
To each his own. If you feel it works for you, go for it. Personally, I would not use cotton t-shirts or cotton swabs such as Q-tips. I prefer Kodak lens tissue. Especially made for lens cleaning and very soft and pure. Breath moisture or lens cleaning fluid, or alcohol as a last resort.

I do use filters. I believe the old saw about keeping the lens clean, don't keep cleaning the lens. I don't like to see accumulated dust and other debris. Small amounts will have small effects. But it will increase flare and softness in photos. Granted, it will often be so little as to not really be noticable.

Works for me, but as I said, to each his own.
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Old 06-20-2008   #61
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Thirty years ago, I too cleaned lenses with a blower brush made from the softest pubic hairs of virgins, and moistened the lens elements with Phoenix Tears which I then gently wiped off (with clock-wise circles in the northern hemisphere and counter-clockwise south of the Equator) using a piece of the finest gossamer material from the gown of an Elvish Princess.
These days, I simply breathe on the lens elements, and wipe off the schmutz with whatever tee-shirt or denim shirt I'm wearing at the time.
Works like a champ and there is no longer any need to try and source those really hard to find blower brushes, and even harder to find virgins.
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Old 07-20-2008   #62
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Spit and an old sock.

Ok...I mostly leave them alone. "First, do no harm."
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Old 08-03-2008   #63
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I use the Prophot tissues in a sachet. Easy to carry, always moist...
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Old 08-03-2008   #64
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Clean cotton t-shirt for my RF lenses and eyeglasses. Fog with breath and wipe clean. I'm quite particular about the optical quality of my eyeglasses, which are multicoated and easily scratched, and this method has worked just fine for many years.

Most lenses have filters. I'll usually wipe dust off the filters with my dry pinky finger.
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Old 08-03-2008   #65
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Puns aside, the best way to handle a situation is to first understand it.

Dust or grime on the lens might indeed scratch the lens, so blow it off first. The best tool I found in my 35 years' experience is a Radio Shack solder suck-up device...a red rubber bulb with a white hard plastic tip...it blows better than any feeble "hurricane blowers" or compressed air canister sold in camera stores. $3 each and refill is free.

The best cleaning cloth I have found is a spectacle cleaning "monofilament" synthetic cloth...use to cost $$$ in camera stores but now free even with knock-off Ray-Bans. I always keep one in a zip-lock bag in my kit. A dirty cloth is no different than rubbing your lens with unknown grits on the surface. Such cloth is hand washable or in any machine setting and last a long long time.

Spots on the lens are caused by unknown moisture condensed thereon. Your own breath might just be enough. Straight Vodka, often called "lens cleaner" by optical engineers and opticians...for good reasons. An airline size bottle last a long time. In emergencies, I had even licked the spot with the tip of my tongue...with no ill effect to me or the lens.

Now the cleaning technique: light circular motion is best, no rubbing.

Residue from any lens cleaning fluids (even Kodak made) is bad. Vodka evaporates, fast. If vodka does not work, you can at least drink it.
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Old 08-03-2008   #66
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mwooten View Post
But lighter fluid would have been a bit rough for the the guy's contact lens test
I don't think they make cameras with contact lenses.
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Old 08-03-2008   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pherdinand View Post
Professionally, in optics cleaning e.g. cleaning high reflectance laser mirrors one use methyl-alcohol (methanol).
It's quite poisonous, though.

Acetone is a good solvent and does not harm glass, but it does harm sone organic materials which as said above might be used in the lens housing, in paint, etcetera. Additionally, acetone evaporates way too fast therefore you cannot wipe the dissolved junk off the lens before this happens, so you end up with well-distributed junk.

When we use acetone (even boiling acetone sometimes) to clean silicone chips we always transfer the chip into isopropanol which is of high purity, a reasonable solvent, and dries much slower. Then we blow-dry it.

Ethanol (the alcohol stuff in your booze) is not pure alcohol - cannot be completely separated from water. It is also not the best solvent. So, it can be used to clean lenses, but it's less efficient and you must wipe or blow it off for removing all junk.
True, but I hesitate to even mention isopropyl alcohol as a solvent. The problem with recommending any method that uses isopropyl alcohol is that most people who hear about using it and want to try it will head straight for the "health and beauty" section of their local grocery store or drug store. That stuff is only sold in 70% pure and 90% pure states there and will put more crud on the lens than it takes off. I feel a lot more comfortable sending people to a hardware store to get denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol has a good bit of ethyl alcohol in it, but the non-alcohol ingrediants are pretty much just water, not balsams and oils, like drugstore isopropyl contains. Denatured alcohol doesn't leave you with a bigger mess to clean up than you started with, like drugstore isopropyl can, and when it dries, it doesn't leave a residue. Actually, I prefer to use naptha, when possible, because I know that's pure and won't leave a residue. Anything it won't dissolve can be cleaned up later with distilled water.

Also, although ethanol is not a particularly efficient solvent, sometimes that can be a good thing. If you are cleaning an ancient Skopar lens, for example, the last things you'd want to use on it would be acetone or isopropyl alcohol -- unless you actually plan to dissolve the canadian balsam cement holding the lens elements together.

Last edited by FallisPhoto : 08-03-2008 at 11:17.
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Old 08-03-2008   #68
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A few years ago I attended a Leica street shooting seminar featuring Australian photographer, David Oliver. Based upon Leica's recommendation, David Oliver does not use filters.

When asked how he cleans his lenses, He explained “This what Leica recommends…” he then picked up his Leica MP, turned it toward him, pulled his shirt tail out, and dry rubbed the front of the Noctilux mounted to the camera.

At that critical moment, the audience gasped .

The fact is Leica’s lens current coatings are so hard, even frequent abuse, such as this, will not result in a scratched lens surface – and Leica backs it up with their Passport Warranty.

What do I do? I use filters on all of my lenses (it so happens, they’re now IR/CUT filters) and the front elements are never touched.

I’m not bloody stupid you know…
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Old 08-03-2008   #69
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Nikon coatings have been enamel-hard since the 1950s. That's why I've never hurt anything using a t-shirt.
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Old 08-04-2008   #70
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Quote:
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Nikon coatings have been enamel-hard since the 1950s. That's why I've never hurt anything using a t-shirt.
1. Pentax started baking some of their coatings in 1971 (Takumars). It was found that this hardened the coating and fused it to the glass. It is what made multicoating possible. Prior to that, all lenses were soft-coated, and most wouldn't even stand up to a cleaner with ammonia in it, let alone any type of grit. It was pretty much the last development of any significance in the design of manual focus prime lenses.

2. The reason why cleaning a lens with ANY kind of cloth is a bad idea, is that if there is anything on the lens, it will be stuck between the lens and the cloth and will be rubbed against it. Well, some things are harder than lens coatings. Silica is one of those things, and silica (sand) is pretty much everywhere.

3. Used Nikon lenses are really infamous for having "cleaning marks." Cleaning marks are minor scratches, and most of them come from improper cleaning (thus the name "cleaning marks"). These little swirls on the surface of the lens don't really have an effect on picture taking ability unless you get one heck of a lot of them (in which case they can contribute to lens flare) but they are scratches nevertheless. Leica is even more infamous for them, but there is NO brand that won't scratch.

Last edited by FallisPhoto : 08-04-2008 at 05:56.
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Old 08-04-2008   #71
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Really, just get one of those Zeiss cleaning kits. A brush, a microfiber cloth, spray of liquid, plus 10 pre-moistened wipes for when you in hurry. All in nice Zeiss belt pouch, for mere $20.
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Old 08-18-2008   #72
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These $%^&#ing lenses cost too much money -- I slap on a skylight filter, then never, ever touch them.
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Old 07-02-2011   #73
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Washed 100% cotton tee, the one I'm wearing..
Coatings are tougher than you think these days (from the 70's on anyway)

With glass pre 60's.. micro fiber.
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Old 07-03-2011   #74
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I try not to clean my lenses too much. I'm very careful and make sure never to touch the glass or have it come in contact with liquids. If there are a few dust specs on the lens, I don't mind. When I clean my lenses, I always use a microfiber cloth. For the most part, I'll just lightly move the cloth over the lens so that it picks up any surface contaminants without rubbing them into the glass, possibly scratching the coating.
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Old 07-03-2011   #75
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I read somewhere that many "microfiber" cloths are not genuine--maybe made in China--and not suitable for lenses. It's better to use a cotton tipped swab (Q-tip) or old cotton underwear/ t-shirt.
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Old 07-03-2011   #76
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While I was working at Canon RCC, the repairmen told me that the best is to exhale at the lens and then rub gently with microfibre cloth.
In case of severe smudge, use one drop of pure ethanol and rub gently with the MF cloth.
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Old 07-03-2011   #77
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Originally Posted by Jockos View Post
While I was working at Canon RCC, the repairmen told me that the best is to exhale at the lens and then rub gently with microfibre cloth.
In case of severe smudge, use one drop of pure ethanol and rub gently with the MF cloth.
Yes also my preferred method.
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Old 07-03-2011   #78
Voe
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When at home:

1. Rocket blower.
2. Lens brush.
3. Lens paper with lens cleaning fluid.

On the road, not cleaning unless there is a finger print an then use my t-shirt.
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Old 07-03-2011   #79
jenhao
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I clean my lenses the same way high-end telescope objectives are supposed to be cleaned:

1. brush/blow
2. cotton balls with a low residue cleaner (I've had best results with Baader Optical Cleaning Fluid). Just drag the cotton. Do not use pressure!
3. followed with a breath to add moisture
4. and followed by a light wipe with a clean cotton cloth.

The Baader fluid is useful for lifting oils and your breath is useful for taking off any remaining water soluble gunk. Definitely better than the Zeiss cleaning fluid when it comes to minimizing residual streaking.


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Old 07-20-2011   #80
outfitter
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Never touch a lens until you have removed dust, grit etc with a blower or a fine (clean) brush - otherwise you are virtually making sandpaper! Next use an appropriate cleaning fluid or treated cloth (I like 90%+ isopropyl alcohol or the Zeiss treated wiping papers). The fluid can be applied with lens paper (always crumpled) or a proper microfiber cloth or a Q-tip. For persistent smears after fluid has been applied I use a very clean soft real piece of chamois. Always go lightly and avoid cleaning too much and too many times - modest dirt will have little optical effect but over cleaning can physically damage a lens.
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