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How do you clean your L Lens' front element?

Thomas Chung , Apr 16, 2009; 11:56 a.m.

Have noticed quite some debates on whether use a UV filters in the discussion forums recently and at the past. Both have their points but just one thing concerns me that might related to the decision on using a protective filters – When dust or pine pollen got stuck in your front element, especially those with some moist, they cannot be easily blow off. How can you clean them?

All of my L lenses have protective filters but I have bad experience with my video camera’s lens. I tried different types of cloth or liquid form solution, after removed the dusts but I can still notice marks left in the lens (more obvious if see it under direct sun light).

I guess this is same experience as people leaving finger print in some special coating glass element such as anti-glare glasses, expensive watch with anti-glare sapphire crystal, etc. Very difficult to clean / clear the finger print.

So my concern is whether the cleaning process of the camera lens’ front element actually hurting the coating?


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Keith Reeder , Apr 16, 2009; 12:06 p.m.

I simply breathe gently on the lens, then brush/wipe the glass as best suits what's on it.

Seems to work for me.

Sinh Nhut Nguyen , Apr 16, 2009; 12:55 p.m.

I have a procedure that I follow and I only do this at home.

  1. I blow the lens element with a Giottos rocket air blower. (I never apply any direct contact to the front element without any blowing and brushing first)
  2. Then I use a brush to brush over the lens element.
  3. Then I blow the front element with the rocket blower one more time.
  4. Then I apply an optical lens cleaning solution onto a lens cleaning tissue and start cleaning the dirty element in cicular patern. (I'm using the Purosol Optical Lens Cleaner, it does a good job cleaning but it leaves residue)
  5. Then I use a soft dry cloth to gently clean away any residue left over by the cleaning solution (I currently use the one that came with my Ray-Ban sunglasses).
  6. Then I use another soft dry cloth for a final run over the element (also a cleaning cloth for sunglasses)

I rarely clean my lenses front elements, I do it once every few months, I don't use filter and I always use lenshood. There's a saying that I read somewhere "It's better to keep your lens clean than keep cleaning your lens".

Ken Papai , Apr 16, 2009; 12:56 p.m.

Don't breathe on the lens and wipe. Maybe for eye glasses. Not for camera lenses.

Use a brush first -- that way yuo can remove any dust or stuff lying around. Then use a spicalized lens cleaner, ala the Lens Pen for a wet cleaning.

L lens or not, makes no difference.

Michael Liczbanski , Apr 16, 2009; 01:21 p.m.

Watch this short video (directly from Canon.)
Use a microfiber cloth for the optical element and a good (hard, not flaky) eraser for cleaning contacts.

Thomas Chung , Apr 16, 2009; 01:35 p.m.

I did more or less the same steps on suggestions about except breathe on the lens (anyway I will not do that). The problem is, whenever I thought that I have the lens cleaned while staying indoor, I can still see some mark/stain/residue left over on the lens if I check very carefully under direct light. Am I just too picky (i.e. that is the nature of a coated glass) or something I missed?

Arie Vandervelden , Apr 16, 2009; 02:03 p.m.

I use my L-breath, and wipe with my L-tshirt.

Geoff Sobering , Apr 16, 2009; 02:26 p.m.

Eclipse and PEC-Pads from Photographic Solutions.

christopher blumenshine , Apr 16, 2009; 02:43 p.m.

What I learned from my 1st photography professor was alcohol and 100% cotton balls.

G Dan Mitchell , Apr 16, 2009; 02:54 p.m.

First, relax about the state of the front element. A bit of dust on the front element is normal and it will not be visible in your photographs at all. If you don't believe me, let your lens get very dirty, make a photo, clean it, make another... and compare.

I sort of liked this answer: "I use my L-breath, and wipe with my L-tshirt." Seriously.

But if you want to use the "right thing" get a small vial of lens cleaning fluid and an inexpensive lens cloth. Or use the same kind of cloth you might use to clean your glasses. Or a very soft cotton cloth. Etc.


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