How to Clean SLR Camera Lenses

Photographers utilize a variety of techniques that are effective for them when it comes to cleaning the lenses of their SLR cameras. Within the scope of this essay, I will demonstrate how I clean the lenses on my DSLR camera. Because I get a lot of emails and comments from our readers, who want me to offer extensive information on this procedure, I have included a full essay as well as a video that goes along with it to properly explain the process.

As long as you are utilizing the appropriate equipment for the task at hand, lens cleaning is a rather simple operation that has practically no inherent danger. You may skip all the way down to the bottom of the page if you are impatient and want to view the video where I show the complete procedure of cleaning a lens. I really hope that the video and article that are below are helpful to you.

1. Why Clean the Camera Lens?

In addition to the obvious response, which is “because it is dirty,” making sure that your lenses are clean will guarantee that you obtain the greatest and highest quality results from utilizing your gear. During one of the Photo Walks that I hosted a few years ago, I was approached by a beginner who wanted to ask me a question regarding his camera. He explained to me that his pictures had a hazy appearance, but he was unsure of the cause of the problem.

I inquired as to whether or not I might examine his camera in order to determine whether or not there was a problem with it. As soon as I removed the cover off the front lens, I was immediately aware of the nature of the issue. The front element of the lens was covered with greasy fingerprints and other debris, and the entire element had a very unclean appearance overall. I then demonstrated the lens to him and inquired as to whether or not he was aware of the issue. He explained to me that he has a young child who enjoys playing with his camera much too much, and that this is presumably how the lens acquired all of the debris that was on it.

After spending so much money on the camera equipment, he was too terrified to clean it himself since he did not know how to clean the lens correctly and because he had spent so much money on it. Because I always have my cleaning kit with me, I decided to take a picture before I cleaned the lens, and then I took another image after I cleaned it. When we examined the two photographs, we discovered that the first one did, in fact, appear foggy, whilst the second one was crystal clear and extremely crisp. This is just one illustration of how dust, filth, and grease may have an impact on your photographs.

Another key reason to clean the lens of your camera is to prevent particles from showing up in the photographs you take. These particles might appear in the highlights of the background or in other areas of the picture. If you look at an earlier post of mine titled “the effect of dust on lens bokeh,” you will find that dust that is on the back element of your lens will be seen in the photographs that you take, particularly if there are huge grains of dust on that element.

The presence of dust is an unavoidable reality for photographers. It is a good idea to take precautions to avoid dust from settling on your equipment; yet, whether you like it or not, you will inevitably find yourself in a dusty environment at some point in the future. Therefore, the question that has to be answered is not how, but when.

On a day with a lot of wind and a lot of dust, if you see a beautiful sunset, are you not going to snap a photo of it? The advice that “do not get your gear dirty in the first place” is given by some photographers is one that I find to be completely absurd. I would never want to pass up a chance to take a good photograph just because I was concerned about keeping my equipment tidy. When I go to areas like the Great Sand Dunes National Park, I always know that the weather is going to be windy almost certainly, so I pack accordingly. Take a gander at this photograph:


It was a blustery and chilly day when I took the picture. Sand got into every nook and cranny of my camera and lens since it was so dispersed across the environment. It took me a few hours to clean everything, and even when I was done, the lens made a screeching noise whenever I adjusted the zoom or focus rings on it. The picture you see above would not have been taken if I had been too concerned about the sand and dust in the air.

2. Dangers of Improper Lens Cleaning

The majority of people’s ingenious approaches of cleaning their gear end up causing it to become unusable. Keep in mind that the glass lenses used in cameras are quite comparable to the lenses used in eyeglasses, which means that they may quickly become damaged. If you try to clean a lens using a towel that could have sand particles on it, you will definitely damage the optical surface of the lens. Lenses are often built of durable optical glass; but, if you try to clean it with such a cloth, you will scratch the lens.

Sand is far more durable than glass for this very reason. If you clean lenses with the wrong kind of chemical solutions, you run the risk of damaging the coating on the lenses. If you apply an excessive amount of the liquid to the lens, it is possible that part of the liquid can penetrate the lens, which will afterwards cause a variety of issues for you. The list can be continued indefinitely.

If you prefer to clean your lenses on your own, it is imperative that you select the appropriate instruments for the job and that you employ those tools in the appropriate manner.

3. Using Protective Filters

Every lens that I possess and use has a protective filter that is of the highest possible quality in front of it. When it comes to buying camera gear and other gear-related items that I write and post on this site, one of the things that I recommend doing is preserving pricey lenses. Why? Because filters simplify not only the process of safeguarding your lens but also the process of cleaning it. Some lenses feature threads or “steps” immediately near the front lens element, which collect dust and even chop off portions from microfiber cloth. These threads and steps are independent from the filter threads on the lens. Because of everything that might attach itself to those threads, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a clean front element of the lens over time.

These threads will be covered by a protective filter, and the time you spend cleaning your lenses will be significantly reduced as a result. You shouldn’t be too concerned about the photograph quality; instead, have a peek at my collection and the page that Lola has dedicated to weddings. Every single one of these photographs was captured using a lens that has a vignette shield. Do you see any issues with the overall quality of the image? Simply make advantage of professional multi-coated filters produced by firms such as B+W and Hoya.

Because of the excellent quality glass used in their construction, these filters will have relatively little of an effect on the picture’s overall quality. They are not cheap, but the price is justified in every way. When you take into account the amount of time that you will spend cleaning your lenses and when you consider all of the possible problems that may arise, such as your lens becoming scratched, you will soon see the benefits of utilizing filters. If your filter ever becomes scratched or broken, you can simply replace it with a new one, and your lens will continue to be protected.

4. Tools to clean lenses

When it comes to taking care of your lenses, there are a wide variety of various instruments that can be purchased on the market nowadays.

In the past, I have tried a wide variety of remedies, and throughout that time, I discovered that certain goods are more helpful than others. The following is a list of lens-cleaning equipment that I have found to be effective and that I would suggest to others:

  • In my experience, the best liquids for cleaning lenses are Zeiss Liquid Lens Cleaner and Eclipse Optic Lens Cleaning Solution. I use and recommend both of these products.
  • The Visible Dust Magic Cleaner is a sizable piece of microfiber cloth explicitly designed for the purpose of cleaning lenses. Get a few of them in your possession.
  • In order to clean the optical lens elements, you need to use Tiffen Lens Cleaning Paper.
  • Giotto’s Rocket Blower was used to clear dust from the lenses of the camera.
  • A toothbrush with a firm bristle or another type of brush with a firm bristle for cleaning the rubber focus and zoom rings.

You may discover many more sorts of liquids and gadgets that perform just as well as those mentioned above by searching the internet or visiting a camera store in your area.

Giotto’s Lens Cleaning Kit is also beneficial if you do not wish to spend a lot of money; however, you should avoid purchasing the alternative kit that comes with a little blower because you will require the larger blower instead.

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