How to Clean Your Camera lens. My BEST Lens Cleaning Tips and Tricks

Promise me you don’t clean your lens with
any of those methods??? In this video I am going to walk you through
some of the lens cleaning tips and tricks that I have learned in my career. Stay Tuned Hey gang! My name is Joe Edelman and my mission is to
help photographers like YOU to develop a solid understanding of the HOWS & WHYS behind great
photography so that you can achieve your goals as a photographer. Photographers spend thousands of dollars on
lenses yet so many people cut corners when it comes to keeping their lenses clean. So I want to show you three simple steps to
clean your lenses and also share some tips for keeping them clean in the first place. When we talk about a dirty lens – fingerprints
and oily smudges are your worst enemy and dust is not as much of a problem as you think All good things in moderation. Dust is everywhere. It WILL get on your lens and sometimes even
inside you lens. The fact is – a few specs of dust here or
there on the front, inside or rear of your lens will NOT have an effect on image quality. Certainly a thick layer of dust or a particularly
large piece of dust on the front or rear element can a problem. The solution – use lens caps. Don’t let your lens sit out without a lens
cap for an extended period of time in any environment. I am most picky about the rear element. When I remove a lens from my camera body I
always keep the lens rear element down until the cap is on it. Also, be sure to clean the inside of your
camera bag or camera case from time to time. The more dust you keep away from your lens
– the cleaner the lens will stay. The preventative measures are important because
continual cleaning can shorten the life of your lens, because of the risk of scratching
the lens every time you clean the glass. Let’s look at the proper steps for cleaning
a dirty lens Not compressed air because of the liquid refrigerants
and not air from an air compressor because it can contain oil particles and not blowing
on the lens because you run the risk of spit. My favorite tool is the large Giottos Rocket-air
Lens Blower. You can get these for around twelve dollars
online or at your local camera store. Using air as your first step is an attempt
to clean the lens without contact. I always give the blower a few squeezes away
from the lens first – in case it’s collected any dust and then you want to hold it close
to the surface of the lens and blow across the lens. It’s also a good idea to store your rocket
blower in a zip lock bag – so that it doesn’t gather dust while not in use. If you are wondering why it has the rocket
shaped fins… it’s so that it doesn’t roll away when you put it down. If you still have a spec of dust that won’t
blow off the lens – the next line of attack is to use a lens brush. There are many options out there – I use the
LensPen which has a retractible soft brush as well as a soft tip. I don’t use the soft tip – I only use the
brush. Just like the blowers – there are lots of
different brands out there. You can get a set of three Lens Pens for about
twelve dollars. If you are hardcore and want to go top of
the line – order a Staticmaster Brush for about $75.00. These Staticmasters hail back to the photographers
darkroom and were the go-to static free brush for cleaning negatives before printing. Simply wipe gently across your lens. Do NOT jab the brush at the lens surface and
whatever you do – don’t touch the brush with your fingers. The brush will absorb the oils from your skin
and then transfer that to your lens. Most of these lens brushes are retractible
but I still store mine in a plastic bag with my rocket blower to keep all dust and dirt
away from it when not in use. Before we get to my preferred third step… I feel like I should at least mention micro
fiber cloths. Most of you have these – you may have gotten
one free at a trade show or even packaged with your camera. I am not a fan of these for a few reasons. If you are not using a high quality micro
fiber cloth – it will not last very long and can damage your lens. How do you determine the quality? That’s the problem – it is very difficult
to do. The other problem with micro fiber is that
it is absorbent – meaning it collects oils and essentially gets dirty. While you can wash them and re-use them – we
all know we don’t wash them as much as we should and then we loose track of how clean
it is. So for me – I prefer a disposable solution. If you are going to use a micro fiber cloth
– store it in a plastic bag to keep it clean and dust free between uses. NO eyeglass wipes! Don’t even think about using eyeglass wipes
– way too much liquid. Instead – I use KimWipes. You can order these on Amazon and they are
actually very delicate scientific wipes that by the way are the number one choice for the
movie and television industry – you know the people who use outrageously expensive optics. At first touch these wipes actually seem a
bit rough – but they are designed for uses like cleaning a lens. Now you don’t use the wipes by themselves. You also need a lens cleaning spray. My choice again comes from the movie industry
and that is Pancro Spray. Never spray directly on to your lens. Spray first onto the KimWipe and then very
gently wipe away the smudges with the damp portion of your KimWipe. Always wipe in a circular motion since that’s
how the lens was polished. It doesn’t matter if you go clockwise or
counter clockwise – just don’t go across the lens. When you are done – return to step one and
blow off the lens with your rocket blower to remove any fiber remnants left behind by
the wipes. Some of you are going to say thats a lot of
extra stuff to carry if you’re traveling and need or want to work light. In my camera bag I always have one or two
Hoodman Lens Cleanse Kits. These are about 10 dollars for a dozen and
it’s a two step cleaning process. These are not designed to replace the blowing
and brushing steps – it’s just an alternative for step three which is the wipe and solution
step. Each Lens Cleanse is a two part packet – the
first is the wet wipe to moisten the lens surface and the second is the dry wipe to
remove substances from the front of your lens. The Lens Cleanse is eco friendly and uses
enzymes that won’t hurt the optical coatings of your lens. Just like with the KimWipes – gently wipe
in a circular motion and then use a blower to remove any fibers left behind. Easy peasy – clean filters the same way you
clean lenses. Yes – I am a photographer that believes in
using UV filters at all times. I find that a high quality UV filter causes
no perceptible loss in image quality and greatly increases the protection of the front element
of my lens There you have it – a little discipline to
keep your gear clean and three easy steps to clean it when its dirty. I hope you find this helpful. Until next time, Please hit that thumbs up
and subscribe so that you don’t miss any videos and go pick up that camera and shoot
something because your BEST shot – it’s your NEXT shot, so keep learning, keep thinking,
keep shooting. Adios!

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42 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Camera lens. My BEST Lens Cleaning Tips and Tricks

  1. A month ago, you challenged us not to come back until we'd done some shooting. With my health issues and the insanity of the holidays, I've been slow. Yesterday, I was able to get out and shoot a bit. I didn't do model photography, but I scouted a location where I want to shoot with a model someday. I took a few good enough shots. I think the location will work well when/if I find the model and costume. 

    I really wasn't planning to do anything yesterday. I had a treatment Friday, and I rarely have any energy the day after a treatment. A young lady (20-something) that I've never met and friended me on Facebook through a mutual friend (whom I've never met in real life) was posting that she wanted to take a picture of something. I messaged her and asked if she wanted to shoot together. As we messaged, I proposed this location which was about half an hour from where she was spending the weekend with her mom. She lives about forty-five minutes from me. The day was late, and I was on the border of saying that it was too far, but then she told me that her car was being repaired and had just been finished. The car was at her uncle's house just a few minutes from the location. I figured that even without getting good shots, I could at least see the location and she could get her car. 

    We had a good time shooting. As we discussed the shoot, she thought the idea sounded good. I asked whether she'd like to tag team if I found a model. She was interested, and by the time I dropped her at her uncle's place where her car was, she was thinking of a friend that she might talk into doing the shoot. The theme is Amelia Earhart so the young lady friend shouldn't have any negative repercussions from posing that way. If we get the shoot done, I'll post an image to your Facebook group. 

    Now we just need to find a good costume and a model. A 30's era airplane would be nice, but that's beyond my budget. This old airport was fun to see. There's an old search light that has lost some glass panes and appears to hold a hawk, falcon, or eagle nest. If I still live in this area next summer, I may try to catch the birds at their nest. 

    PS. Thanks for the cleaning tips. I sometimes use the soft side of those brush tools, but I rarely do anything beyond using the bulb air blowers. I can't remember where my rocket blower is, but the ones without fins are sometimes easier to store. I used to have one shaped like a grenade. Maybe I'll try to find that one today.

  2. Thanks Joe, lots of good sense there (no surprise really, coming from you!). I'm a scientist by training and KimWipes are useful for all kinds of things (a bit rough on the nose when used as a Kleenex though). There are also lens paper products designed for cleaning microscope optics that I think would be excellent for camera lenses, but they tend to come in very small sheets and are stupidly expensive. Very lint-free though and if they're good for a Zeiss, Leica, Olympus or Nikon microscope, I imagine they'd be great for camera lenses too.

  3. Straight forward and needed information on this. Unfortunately, too many people will say, "Don't ever let anything touch your lense." Always thought that was a contradiction when cleaning it. Thank you for your clarity.

  4. Almost exactly my methodology, but great advice about storing the brush and rocket in a ziplock bag. Also, I use Pec Pads instead of Kim Wipes, but I'll have to check those out now.

  5. Outstanding presentation. In this age of heightened security, always concerned when traveling with my Giottos Rocket. So far, no issues.

  6. Thanks for making a video like this, Joe. Do you have any tips for cleaning the lens barrel and/or focus ring?

  7. All sensible tips.

    I especially like how you back up the notion that using a filter does not degrade perceptible image quality. Just be sure to use a high-qualitiy one and you're good.

    Sure, there may be slight change some distortion, flaring or even ghosting may occur, but I think those circumstances are very few and limited and easily corrected with a lens hood or even your hand to control stray lighting. If it's really an issue for a particularly challenging shooting scenario, then I suppose take caution and remove the filter temporarily to facilitate in the photo you want to make. Otherwise, I always prefer a filter over my lens than not to have one.

    Yes, microfiber cloths may seem like a good solution to use for many AT FIRST.. seeming soft and designed to clean. But, like you said, they can absorb oils from you fingers and transfer that to the lens… those who wear glasses will experience this ill effect quite often. They are also inherently designed pick up dust and dirt, and thus it's easy to forget or simply not know how much dust & dirt has been collected by the cloth and you may rub such "rubbish" back over the surface of your lens and potentially cause damage. It may seem economically wasteful, but if you want to protect your lenses and care for them properly, you really should have a disposable wipe that should always be clean and free to wipe your lens each time you need to do so.

    Thanks for all the tips and reminders for some us who may not know or practice some of your recommended techniques.

  8. For on the go I just bring a lens pen, and a couple Lens Cleanse packets. Brush with the lens pen, then use the Lens Clense. The blower takes up a lot more space in your bag and is nice but not 100% necessary.

  9. nice video… 🙂 big fan of yours… would you please do a video on how to clean the camera sensor and how to avoid fungus on camera sensor?

  10. Joe, wonderful video and yes, I know nothing is perfect but I wondered why you didn't mention the lens caps. Most of the caps are just thrown into their bag or into a pocket until needed later. The camera bag and pockets often have lots of lint. I'd recommend blowing out the caps here and there also?

  11. Hey Joe do you have any tips for using different face expressions for different moods. I have trouble making the same face in every good picture

  12. Now to dig around in the cupboard for Giottos…and if I walk past the bin on the way some microfiber may be leaving home.

  13. Good advice !!!! As for Microfibre I use them for serious problems that may arise from time to time but the key is this: Buy a large one; Cameron makes one 15" x12" and cut it into 2" squares (with very clean scissors and hands) and drop them into a ziploc. Then if you need one use it only ONCE ! and toss it out .

  14. Thanks for the amazing tips! Really useful as always. Been watching your video from quite some time now and finding them really useful also used a lot thinks I have tricks learned from your video in my shoots especially from how to pose your model, I was wondering if there is a way if you view some of my work and give me feedback, it would mean a lot for me!
    You can find my work on instagram @inno.vative
    Kind regards

  15. Yep, Pancro + Kim Wipes. Learned that one from a DP I worked with on a Discovery show! Funny side note, a TV producer I work with fairly often (you’d definitely recognize his show credits) often wipes his front element or pola with his t-shirt in the field. I cringe every time I see it, but it’s his company and he views all the gear as replaceable, almost to the point of disposable. Whatever it takes to get the shot without interrupting the action.

  16. I don't think spots on the sensor or lens are a big problem. Often you only notice them in bright skies and at f 14-22 but who uses such apertures ? I do a lot of urbexphotography, switch lenses in dirty dusty old factories, castles etc and I hardly ever have problems with dust. I have my sensor cleaned 2x a year and often it's not even necessary. The dust on the sensor is often not sand, salt or whatever but tiny metal particles from the lens mount ! If you clean the rear of your lens and the lensmount regularly, it shouldn't be a problem. Great tutorial as always  btw

  17. Joe, do you know any good alternatives to the Rocket Blower? I am allergic to all natural rubber. Thanks!

  18. Thanks Joe. A very helpful video. I have a gallon of 99.8% IPA lying around and thought I'd try it with a microfiber for cleaning my lenses, seeing as all lens cleaning fluids are IPA. I noticed that it leaves annoying streaks on the glass which are very hard to fully get rid off. From what I read this is common even with name brands cleaning fluids. Thanks to you I just got the Kimwipes and Pancro and will give it a go. I have been using the rocket blower and lenspen (including the cleaner tip) combo for years and found the results excellent, but whenever I use the lenspen I clench my teeth in fear of scratching the lens. Your method should be better.

  19. What’s the best way to remove water spots from the lens? The water is really hard where I live and so far I had no luck with dealing with them. Would IPA do the trick?

  20. Hello Joe,

    Thank you for the helpful information. The reason I don't use UV filters (I used to use them) is when recording video my lenses are more prone to flaring. Flaring can be an aesthetic choice, but it doesn't look natural when a UV is on. It just looks like the UV is causing it. I hope that's understandable.

    – Paul

  21. This video is actually pretty helpful, even though I dont use a camera. But this method will work well with my Vr Headset (which is always foggy).

  22. Thanks for the help. I just bought my first DSLR and lens for some movies I wanted to make and didn't know how to go about cleaning my lens! 🙂

  23. I like to turn the camera down when removing dust from the lens with the air blower, thinking that maybe gravity will also help dragging the dust off of it

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