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Cleaning Cameras

by Philip Greenspun, June 1999 (updated January 2007)


The Corkscrew.  A slot canyon on the Arizona/Utah boder.  1991.

Remember that your camera is just a tool. Don't pamper it. You can always buy a new one. If you leave your camera in a closet, it will never get dirty or broken, but you won't have too many great photographs to show for yourself. Many of the best photographs can only be taken under conditions that will render your equipment wet and/or filthy. That's life.

The photo at right was the result of spending six hours at the bottom of a canyon in the Navajo Nation. For the entire six hours, sand blew down from the top of the canyon and into a $20,000 Rollei 6008 system. Was there a sickening grinding sound when I focussed my $3000 50mm lens for the next few months? Yes. Did I have to send the camera back to Rollei USA to be cleaned? Yes. Did the camera get stolen in Filthadelphia a couple of years later? Yes. So it really didn't make sense to obsess over the camera, did it? We can still enjoy this picture even if that 6008 has disappeared. If the camera had been pampered, it would just be in that much better shape for the crook who is using it now.

Lenses


Joshua Tree National Park

Basic lens cleaning tools are a blower, a microfiber cloth, and lens cleaning fluid (my favorite: Zeiss). Try to blast dust off the lens with the blower or canned air. Finger prints can be removed with a circular wipe of the new miracle micro fiber cloth (my favorite brand is Pentax because it is nice and thick; about $6). Persistent dirt should be removed with lens cleaning fluid, of which the safest is probably Kodak. Always drip the fluid onto the cloth and then wipe the lens; never put fluid directly onto a lens.

Even if your lenses don't look dirty, every few months you should give exposed surfaces a cleaning with Residual Oil Remover (ROR). Even if you were able to protect your optics from all environmental sources of filth, there would still be crud condensing on your optics as camera bag plastics outgas. It is tough to verify ROR's claims, but the optics do look visibly clearer after an ROR treatment and the $4.50 price won't kill you.

If you are going to use an expensive lens in a dusty or wet environment and don't want to obsess over your equipment, keep a B+W UV filter on the lens and count on replacing the filter every year or two.

SLR mirrors

Cactus.  Moorten Botanical Garden.  Palm Springs, California.

Don't even think about cleaning the mirror in your SLR. Maybe, just maybe, you could consider using a handheld blower to move a few dust specs off, but canned air is too powerful. Technicians clean mirrors with some kind of special viscous fluid and will often do it for free at camera clinics run by shops or conventions. Mirrors have very fragile surfaces and I wouldn't dream of getting near them with a standard lens cleaning solution or cloth.

Remember: the dirt in your viewing system isn't going to show up on film.

Flash Contacts

Modern TTL flash systems have numerous contacts and if you don't clean them every now and then with a pencil eraser or something, you can be fairly sure of getting intermittent failures.

The Camera Body Sensor

One of the things that is great about digital SLRs is that you can change the lenses as necessary for different projects. During those lens changes, however, there is a risk of dust falling "onto the sensor." In fact, the CMOS or CCD sensor is covered by a color filter or a clear glass plate, so really the dust has fallen on something that is covering the sensor. Nonetheless, you want to be careful and non-aggressive at this point, because if anything near the sensor is scratched, the camera needs to go in for professional service.

This is the time to get out the owner's manual for your camera. Make sure that the battery is fully charged and then follow the instructions to flip up the mirror for "sensor cleaning mode". If you can't dislodge dust using a simple hand-squeezed blower, consider visiting a camera repair shop. If you're impatient or intrepid, you might want to try a sensor swab wetted with Eclipse fluid (instructions included with the kits).

The Camera Body Exterior

Philip setting up the Hasseblad.  Monument Valley

Camera and lens bodies are fairly well sealed against dust and moisture. So you don't really ever have to clean the exteriors of your equipment. On the other hand, if you don't want the dirt and crud that is on the camera body to work its way into your camera bag and from there onto an optical surface, it is probably worth wiping off the body with a soft cloth. Slightly dampening the cloth with plain water certainly won't do any harm, though I imagine that this wouldn't be Canon or Nikon's recommendation.

War Stories

I had a very interesting experience in New Zealand after smashing a UV filter on my Nikon 28AF lens.

Gallery

Here are some photos that I wouldn't have gotten if I'd been prissy about my cameras...

Tower Falls.  Yellowstone National Park. Moeraki Boulder.  South Island, New Zealand.

From Samantha ...

And from Italy ...

If all else fails...

If you got the picture but lost the camera in the process, you may need to visit one of the photo.net recommended retailers.

Readers' Comments


Add a comment



Angst Man , July 19, 1998; 06:06 A.M.

Hi,

When shooting out, I always place some silica gel in my bag to get rid of excess moisture. I don't know how useful it can be but since the camera bag is not 'air-proof' and is light-proof, the potential for fungus growth is high.

I use empty film containers and poke little holes in them, then pour enough silica gel into it. It is an easily refillable container and contains just about the right amount for a medium size bag.

M. Huber , August 25, 1998; 08:10 P.M.

I'm not disagreeing with anything you've said. I'm reporting on Nikon information. The Manual - yes I do read it. It says, for glass surfaces such as lens; avoid using lens tissue. Use soft cotton moistened with pure alcohol. The Nikon consumer/tech reiterated that I read it right. "Use 100% pure methol alcahol. Con't use lens cleaners." Any comments from anyone? To be honest, I usually use one of the cloths you mentioned or a soft, clean bandana. I do know some filters from certain companies come with warn ings against using certain cleanrers, but by the time, I get ready to clean same, I've lost the instruction paper.

Rick -- , October 25, 1998; 10:54 P.M.

Reading from the Nikon F5 User Manual, page 151, it says: "Clean lens surface with a blower brush. To remove dirt and smudges, use a soft cotton cloth or lens tissue moistened with ethanol or lens cleaner"

Dave Kemp , November 28, 1998; 12:57 P.M.

On microfiber lens-cleaning cloths, two recommendations. First, Herbert Keppler, who's been doing and writing about photography for more years than most of us have been alive, has some interesting thoughts (in the Dec. 98 Popular Photography, p. 25), in his brief piece entitled "Microdear microfiber cleaning cloths finally available in the U. S." Keppler says, "For years I have been raving about what I think are the best lens- and camera-cleaning cloths anywhere--the Microdears, made in Japan by Etsumi Co. They are generously large and thick" but have been obtainable only in Japan. Now Adorama is importing them, in two sizes: 11"x11" for $10, and 14"x17" for $15. Keppler's piece also gives his own directions for their proper use: "Dust and light smudges are easily wiped away. To remove pronounced fingerprints or heavy, mucky stuff, breathe lightly on lens surface and immediately clean lens with light, circular motion of single-layer Microdear. Better yet, slightly moisten the edge of the Microdear cloth with lens-cleaning solution, alcohol, or, in an emergency, vodka. Then do your circular motion bit. Microdears are also great for cleaning outside surfaces of camera bodies and the like." Keppler claims that dirty Microdears "can be washed in soapy water" and when rinsed thoroughly and dried, "they'll be as good as new."

Second, I like and recommend the Contax MicroStar microfiber antistatic lens-cleaning cloth, which is also generously large and thick. This is a top-quality lens-cleaning cloth. I bought mine for $15 from an Asian selling them at a camera show (mine is light green in color and says "CONTAX/Carl Zeiss T* Lenses" on the cloth; directions are in Japanese only). Sorry I can't tell you where to buy one.

Dan Fordice , February 05, 1999; 03:58 P.M.

Whenever I buy new shoes for my kids I grab the little silica gel pack from the shoe box and put it in my camera bag. I always have three or four of the little packs floating around in there. They lay flat in the bottom of the bag, so they don't take up space. The cameras stay dry and I have never had one tear or break open. Best of all they are free and easily replaceable.

Timothy Breihan , May 20, 1999; 08:58 A.M.

I have had very dissappointing results with the cleaner that Phil recommends, Residual Oil Remover (ROR). I purchased a bottle recently, along with a pair of Wiko Microstar cleaning cloths. ROR's website recommends against using regular lens tissue, claiming that it is "not absorbant enough for ROR," so I sprayed this peculiar smelling chemical onto one of the Microstar cloths and wiped off the elements and filters of all of my lenses.

After completing this process, however, I exhaled onto the elements to make sure that they were in fact perfectly clean. (A clean lens will fog uniformly, and any grease or fingerprints will appear quite distinctly.) I was very surprised to see all sorts of swirls and whatnot materialize on the elements. I polished of the fog and then tried again. They did appear somewhat cleaner this time, but nonetheless, the swirls persisted.

Now you must realize that I am quite compulsive about my equipment, and especially the cleanliness of my optics, so, needless to say, I was somewhat perturbed. I accquired a flashlight, and, by the light reflected from the front element of the lens, distinct smears of grease or something could be detected.

So I read the bottle. "Do not use with treated lens cloth." Well, Microstar is not treated (treated lens cloths being primarily of the anti-static type, such as Ilford's AntiStaticum), but perhaps this chemical was somehow breaking down the Microstar's synthetic fibers and leaving the residue on the lens. (I seriously doubted this, but it bore consideration.) Or, perhaps the cloth was simply dirty, and the oil ws being redeposited onto the lens.

I washed out the Microstars and then used lens tissue with the ROR instead, hoping to eradicate my little problem, and guess what; the residue remained. However, a bit of ethanol diluted with water took the mysterious residue right off. Perhaps my bottle of ROR was defective, but I have since discarded it, and never plan to buy another.

My recommendation? When you first accquire a lens, clean it with regular lens cleaner or diluted ethenol (NOT isopropyl, or rubbing, alcohol, but ethyl alcohol only). This is sufficiant to remove much grime that can accumulate on a lens (especially if it is used) and should be repeated periodically every four months or so. Remember, however, that overcleaning will eventually strip off the delicate coating of the elements. To minimize such damage, used canned air to blast dust and other abrasives off of the glass BEFORE rubbing a cloth of tissue over them. For intermediate cleaning, a microfiber cloth and the moist breath treatment are the safest approaches, and canned air is the easiest way to remove dust, especially on longer telephotos in which that rear element sits deep in the recesses of the barrel.

Alexander Karasev , June 30, 1999; 04:27 P.M.

I second the above negative experience with ROR (Residual Oil Remover) lens cleaner. I found it to work no better for most, and worse for many, types of lens contamination, than Kodak lens cleaning fluid.

On a separate note, as per Keppler's recommendation in Pop Photo, I went to Adorama and bought the Microdear cloth, and found it to work very well.

Alex Karasev

Derek Dammann , July 16, 1999; 08:48 A.M.

I also noticed the slight swirls you get when using ROR, but it seemed to work well overall for cleaning. I just used it to clean a Canon 70-200 2.8 and a Sigma 170-500. After a year of taking the Sigma to the racetrack for horse racing photography, the lens' front element was so fouled with sand, dust, oil, etc that I was about to give up on it. Regular cleaning products like canned air and microfiber cloths did nothing to help it. After one ROR treatment, it was good as new! ROR even took off moisture spots that had appeared on the front coating. Sure ROR left a slight swirling pattern (only noticeable when viewed at an angle under flourescent light), but after some buffing with the microfiber cloth the swirls were pretty much gone.

Timothy Breihan , August 24, 1999; 08:39 P.M.

A further comment on lens cleaners; since my last posting, I discovered a way to eliminate the greasy swirls that mysteriously appeared on my lens elements after a treatment with ROR. I have found that if you saturate a cotton facial pad with ROR, apply the liquid thickly to glass, and then immediately remove it with another dry pad, the swirls are eliminated or at least reduced to a degree at which a light buffing will remove them.

The literature on Residual Oil Remover makes mention that certain tissues are "not absorbant enough for ROR..." My theory is, that since ROR apparently emulsifies oil, too much wiping simply redeposits the oil back on the glass. This is a somewhat half-assed explaination, and I'm not entirely convinced of its merit. What I am convinced of is that ROR seems a bit to fickle to warrant wasting my time with. I use others cleaners that work better. I would also ask if Phil has experinced any of the aforementioned difficulties, and, if so, could he please place a posting illustrating his solution. I would be interested in hearing additional insight.

A final observation on Kodak lens cleaner. Reading the Contents label illustrates that it is simply ammonia diluted with water. I have often heard that ammonia is harsher on lens coatings than ethyl alcohol, and to my experience, does not work as well. (I use an alcohol based cleaner.) Does anyone have any insight here? Phil says that the New Zealander who extracted the glass fragments from his lens cleaned the glass with acetone, something I would never consider. Any comments?

Charles Mackay , September 05, 1999; 09:44 A.M.

As far as Kodak Lens Cleaner, I read from the bottle that it is water and ammonium carbonate, which is different than household ammonia (ammonuium hydroxide). It seems to work OK, but I think most of the effect is that the water in the solution helps the tissue or cloth hold onto dust particles more effectively. As far as ethanol, Everclear is pure ethanol and is available at liquor stores in some states (Texas, Colorado, other he-man type places). Ethanol seems to dissolve oily spots beautifully, although the jury seems to be out on its effect on coatings.

It would be useful to have some facts about what lenses are coated with and the reactivity of coatings with common cleaner ingredients like the above. I cannot imagine that condensed breath is totally non-reactive (especially if you've been drinking Everclear).

Rocky Aaron , October 23, 1999; 08:20 P.M.

In my lab 100% ethanol and methanol are freely available and I use them to clean my lens all the time. Works great. Not a trace left. Methanol evaporates in seconds but it's toxic so be careful.

Timothy Breihan , November 08, 1999; 10:11 A.M.

Ethanol and cotton flannel are recommended by Nikon, so I doubt that they would harm lens coatings if used in moderation. If you are using Everclear, though, it might be a good idea to dilute it with distilled water, if for no other reason than to increase its evaporation time. That way, you can be sure to get all of the oil up with your cloth instead of having it remain on the lens as the ethanol evaporates.

Charles Mackay , November 17, 1999; 04:06 P.M.

Since the above, having used ethanol denatured with methanol ("solvent alcohol") sold at my hardware store and the absorbent cotton that comes on rolls at local drugstore, I will never use anything else. After using dust-off, use one piece of cotton dampened with ethanol to remove dirt / oil / sludge, then dry with a fresh dry piece. (This technique is also advocated in one of Really Right Stuff's "white papers".) Lenses look absolutely like new, at least with Nikon glass.

If you don't get all the crud off, the ethanol may leave a hazy residue (basically diluted crud that you have redistributed evenly around the lens). This happened to me once but a microfiber cloth removed it -- or you could just repeat the alcohol thing.

Dave Flanagan , February 02, 2000; 12:12 A.M.

A quick note on the previous comment regarding ethanol-- ethanol not explicitly labelled 200 proof has probably been denatured for tax reasons. While some ethanol is denatured with methanol, other denaturants which may be harmful to lens coatings include camphor, gasoline, benzene, acetone, ether, and kerosene (Merk Index, 11th ed., 1989).

Pat O'Neill , March 06, 2000; 03:37 P.M.

Don't forget to clean the insides of the lens cap too, and the back end of the lens as well might need cleaning. Also I have found that Zeiss lens cleaner cleaned even my dirtiest lens to a "like new" clean. thanks for all of the tips.

Marika Buchberger , March 19, 2000; 01:06 P.M.

For those folks who truly believe their "clean" lenses are clean, try this: grab a jewelers 10X eye loupe and take a look at the lens. What appears to the naked eye as the cleanest looking lens will reveal its' true dirt, smudges, swirls, scratches, fungus and damage under a 10X eye loupe. Best to use a jewelers "triplet" eye loupe that's been designed for diamond grading with a black frame. They offer best color and image fidelity. The GIA sells them for about $70.00.

(In fact, when you go shopping for a lens, bring the jewelers eye loupe with you. You'll be unpleasantly surprised at how many "new" lenses have surface defects, chips etc.)

Ian Johnston , July 23, 2000; 06:36 P.M.

Just a note on blowers - don't pay a lot of money at a camera store for one. Instead go to your local pharmacy and purchase a rectal syringe, they do just as good a job for a lot less money.

S.J. Polecat , August 11, 2000; 09:00 A.M.

As an alternative to cleaners and wipes, consider good ole scotch tape. Just use a small piece, touch it to your lens or filter and lift off. It removes oils, fingerprints, and dust without the potential of streaks or scratching or mess. I use it to clean the LCD screens on digital cameras. It works great, gets all the way up to the edge and will not scratch the sensitive (cheap) plastic screens. I have also, on occasion, used it to clean the mirrors on my SLR's. Nothings more annoying than a dust spec in the viewfinder.

dave lawson , September 28, 2000; 10:16 P.M.

One observation I'd make about cleaning any sort of surface. Having some year of oexperience in cleaning residual contamination from surfaces being prepared for adhesive bonding on aircraft structures (where any trace oils would totally degrade the bond), it is traditional to use two cloths for solvent cleaning. The first one is soaked in the solvent and is used to dissolve the contaminant and put it in solution. The second, clean and dry cloth, is used to remove the solvent/contaminant solution remaining on the surface. These steps can be repeated if required using fresh cloths.

For lenses, I would think a second step of treatment would suffice. What I can say from personal experience on lenses is that the Cokin lens cleaner seems to do a decent job when used with the two cloth approach. I always use the Kodak lens tissues and get few swirl patterns.

In a pinch in the field, I've resorted to using a standard tissue (yuck) but followed that with a blow off brush to get rid of the inevitiable bits of fibre that deposit from the tissue. An imperfect solution, but sometimes an errant finger does actually get in front of my lens.

Dave

David H. Hartman , November 03, 2000; 05:56 A.M.

Slide-Loc, OneZip...

If your micro cleaning cloth or lens tissue has abrasives in it you may damage your lens. To protect the integrity of my cleaning materials I always carry them in Ziploc type bags. I especially like the ZipLoc, Slide-Loc and Hefty, OneZip bags.

I find these bags are great for other things, for example quart size Ziploc Freezer bags are just the right size for 4x5 cut film holders. Charged and discharged batteries, exposed and unexposed film, lens hoods, camera manuals, etc.

David Krewson , December 06, 2000; 11:01 P.M.

When you get that gray grunge buildup in the inscribed numbers on your lens' aperture dial or your shutter speed dial, try an old toothbrush dipped in any kind of alcohol. Shake off the excess, then go at it with a circular motion. The original paint will soon be shiny & bright. You can remove any left-over residue with a slighty-moist (H2O) tissue. This will also remove the crud from any other crevices on the camera.

Marika Buchberger , December 29, 2000; 05:44 P.M.

Zeiss Lens Cleaner and old fashioned baby diapers. Makes the lenses "squeaky clean"!!!

A note about the diapers: Make sure the diapers have been machine washed numerous times with NO fabric softener. Also, rinse them well in DISTILLED water to remove all residue.

Eitan Adut , February 10, 2001; 07:32 P.M.

In my experience with cleaning multi-coated filters, optical glass can be cleaned to perfection with the following methods:

1. Simple dust specks or lint: Use a blower bulb or blower bulb/brush. (obtainable at photo stores, chemical stores, pharmacies) Blow off the dust using the bulb. Sometimes a combination of brushing and then blowing works best. Make sure that if you use a brush, that it has never been in contact with anything oily, like your skin. If it has, you'll need to clean it with alcohol first. If you only have a blower and no brush, lightly knocking the dust particles loose with a clean 100% cotton cloth first, and then blowing works. In some cases, lint will be stuck in the rim of your filter. In that case, careful use of tweezers (I reccomend swiss army tweezers) to pull out the stuck lint.

2. Dust, filmy residue, or specks: Use pure water (tap water is fine) with a 100% pure soft cotton cloth (a perfectly clean t-shirt is fine, but no cotton balls, they're too linty). In the case of mounted lenses, apply the water to the cloth. Then wipe the glass clean with the damp cloth, and then wipe dry with a dry part of the cloth. Do not let the water dry on it's own!

In the case of filters, remove the filter from the lens, then hold the filter under the tap and rinse it completely with water, both sides, and then immediately begin to wipe the whole filter with cotton cloth until dry. If there is dust or lint left, go to method 1.

3. Figerprints and oily residue: use ethanol and a 100% pure soft cotton cloth. A 95% ethanol, 5% isopropyl alcohol blend is perfect. This can be obtained from chemical supply stores. (I recommend tri-ess in Burbank, http://www.tri-esssciences.com)

Apply the ethanol to the cloth and then wipe the glass with it. Make sure to dry it off completely using a dry part of the cloth. Do not let it evaporate without wiping. If there is residue, proceed to method 2. If there is only dust or lint left, proceed to method 1.

4. If and ONLY IF there is a residue that could not be removed by methods 2 or 3, use a lens cleaner like Residual Oil Remover, ROR', and a 100% cotton cloth. Apply the lens cleaner to the cloth, wipe the glass with it, and then dry as best as possible. There will be a residue, so proceed to method 3. In general, filter manufacturers like Hoya, do not recommend use of lens cleaners. They say in some cases they can ruin the coatings. (That didn't happen though with my Hoya Super HMC UV(0)).

What kind of pressure should you use when using the cotton cloth? The lighter the pressure, the better, but even medium pressure should not scratch your lenses or coatings, because cotton is soft. Don't press hard enough though for the glass to break!

Steve Rencontre , February 22, 2001; 12:52 P.M.

I'm a bit surprised no-one's mentioned OptiClean for glass cleaning. Maybe it's not available outside the UK yet.

Anyway, for those who don't know, it's a liquid polymer that you paint onto the lens and leave until it hardens. You then remove it by attaching a little sticky tab and pulling it off. Away comes the film along with every bit of gunge that was on the glass.

It's quite expensive, but very good. It also doesn't rely on you having the right sort of cloth to remove it.

James . , February 24, 2001; 04:27 A.M.

I've used Kodak lens cleaning fluid with a Promaster cloth with squeaky clean success. The Promaster cloth is very absorbent, but I don't know what material it's made from (possibly cotton). I've tried the Microstar cloth, but found it to be not very absorbent, and sometimes left streaks. I always begin with gently blowing the lens off with some ReadRight compressed "air", then gently brushing it with a camel hair brush, blowing again, and then soaking the cloth fairly well with fluid, and gently dabbing the lens (and immediately dry it w/ cloth). I then use perhaps a drop of fluid on the cloth and gently wipe the lens down. There aren't usually any streaks due to the absorbency of the Promaster. If there are a few streaks, I just lightly buff the lens with the cloth, and in fact the resulting cleanliness is so thorough there's usually a slight squeaking here and there from the surface being spotless. I've tried Kodak disposable paper, but that just leaves damm streaks all over! Make sure your cloth is absolutely immaculate... PS: I just bought a Leland PowerClean Ultra Cloth which looks promising as well.

Donald Gentz , March 01, 2001; 11:34 A.M.

Long ago, when I worked as a camera assistant on movie crews, I was taught to clean lenses with the three-tissue method: 1) Roll the first tissue into a fairly tight cylinder and tear it in half, then lay the two pieces side by side--the torn ends become the "bristles" of your lens brush ... point the lens down, and brush the grit off its face (if you don't point it down, you just push the grit around) then discard the tissue; 2) Bunch up the second sheet by grasping its corners and form a little wadded cushion ... put one drop (no more!) of lens fluid on it, and gently clean in a spiral motion from the center out, rotating the cushion so that a clean surface is constantly presented to the glass, then discard the second tissue; 3) Quickly (or you'll get waterspots from the fluid evaporating) bunch up the third tissue as you did the second, and dry and polish the glass in a spiral motion from the center outwards, then discard the tissue. Always clean your lenses gently--never scrub or rub hard. If you buy some lens tissue and you can hear it crackle when you wad it up, it's too stiff and harsh for your glass, so replace it. Before I start step two (above), I put the third sheet of tissue between my left ring and pinkie finger knuckles, so that it will be at hand immediately and waterspots won't form before I can dry the glass. Finally, keep a UV or 1A filter over your lens all the time for protection (I know that's elementary but I'm a true believer, having replaced the filter four times on a lens I'm still using today)

Pepe Alvarez , March 04, 2001; 07:45 P.M.

Great Lens Cleaner! Regarding optics cleaning I have not tried ROR but there seems to be some dissatisfaction with it's use in some of the comments. For forty years I have found using liquid lens cleaners to be a horrendous experience, including alcohol, those from Kodak, etc. Recently I have found a totally satisfactory cleaner that actually makes the glass look clean! No swirls, residues, etc. In fact, the claim is that it removes all previous residual cleaner comtamination as well as normal oils and accumulations. This seems to be the case in my experience and it does it without special efforts. It is called Formula MC and it's website is at the bottom of these comments. I hesitate to use microcloths as the danger of reusing their surfaces poses a danger to my $1000 lenses even thought they work remarkably well. With Formula MC they are not needed or recommended. The safe method is to use two pieces of clean, unused lens tissue, a wet and a dry one, and the job is done in a minute or so with no threat to optics. I first blow away any dust from the surface, especially the crevices so I don’t dislodge any grit while cleaning, with a can of Dust-Off or similar product and perhaps a light blow at the finish to remove tissue lint. I do a test blow away from the lens and always hold the can upright. Never shake the air can before using it! Because I take care in protecting my lens surfaces and avoid cleaning unless they get a finger smear or really need it, I haven’t had a lot of need or experience using MC but can say that when I have used it its been a pleasant experience. I might mention that in using the 2nd tissue there might be what seems as residue but this appears to be part of the cleaning process and is removed by carefully wiping it away. The lens will come out clean and free of cleaning marks.

Formula MC’s site is: http://www.pecaproducts.com/mc.html

As an alternative there is another cleaner that I remember reading is the official one used by Hasselblad and other optics makers (possibly Leica). It is called Rexton Optyl-7. I have used it but prefer MC. I bought both these cleaners from Get Smart Products at: http://www.pfile.com/cgi/cart.cgi?db=dusters_cleaning.db&category=Dusters,+Cleaning+Supplies

Alan Wallace Jr , March 07, 2001; 07:39 A.M.

I have lenses several years old that have never been cleaned directly. I always buy a new filter with each new lens. Upon receipt of the new lens, I immediately install the new filter. Smudges and dirt get removed from the outside of the filter with my t-shirt or whatever else seems handy at the moment.

Shine a flashlight through your lens. Anything that is illuminated is effectively scattering light. Think about that. On an ideal lens, you wouldn't even be able to see the glass.

A high powered flashlight will allow you to discover just how much dust actually resides on elements that are inaccessable. Zoom lenses seem to get the most dust internally, probably due to fluctuating air volumes within the lens tube. The amount of internal dust may convince you that cleaning the two exterior surfaces is rather trivial.

With a high powered flashlight, you may also discover the effects of over cleaning a lens. The light will illuminate all those microscopic scratches in the glass left by cleaning procedures.

I have also seen some lenses with oil residues on inner elements. These oil residues will take the form of fogging, spotting or streaking. I suspect that factory-applied lubricants are to blame here.

In one extreme case, using a flashlight I saw a smudge with a small fingerprint on an internal element. This same lens happens to be the sharpest one in my collection (a 50 mm prime). Since this realization, I have devoted much less attention to the cleanliness of my lenses.

A little scattered light seems to be ok.

Ian Cruikshank , May 24, 2001; 11:42 P.M.

General advice.

1. Use a bulb blower to dust off your lenses periodically. This is one of the safest ways to clean the glass.

2. Use alcohol and lens tissues or cotton balls to clean persistent grime off the glass. I use ordinary alcohol rather than special lens cleaning solutions, because it evaporates quickly, wipes clean easily, and leaves no streaks.

3. Use a lens hood on every lens, and consider an eyecup for your camera's viewfinder. These accessories help protect the glass from fingers, dust, facial oils, air pollution, impact, etc. They also deliver more contrast to your eye and to the film, by blocking extraneous light.

4. Use your lens caps when you finish taking pictures, and when you change lenses. This keeps dust and oil off the elements, and prevents scratches and impact damage.

5. Use UV filters to protect your lenses in hostile environments: rain, snow, smoke, extreme heat or cold. But don't think you have to use them all the time. Even the best filters will degrade contrast and resolution, which may or may not be noticeable. Bad filters can turn good lenses into mediocre ones. Always remove filters when shooting into the sun or artificial light, to prevent flare, ghosting, and reflections.

6. Don't clean your lenses too vigorously or obsessively. There's always the chance of causing more harm than good.

Lee Shively , June 12, 2001; 06:57 P.M.

I am amazed every time I read an article by someone who does NOT recommend a UV filter on every lens for protection. These are people whose work I admire and I feel they should know better. Included in this group is John Shaw who makes the statement "protect it from what?" in regard to a filter protecting the lens.

In my previous incarnation as a working photographer I have witnessed the following: 1)Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 falling from the roof of my car to the pavement below, 2)Same Nikkor 180 snapping off the entire front of a Nikon F2 following my being hit by a football player, 3)Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 being splashed with champagne in the locker room of a Texas League baseball team, 4)Nikkor 80-200mm f/4 lens taking a headlong dive from a bar to the tile floor below, 5)Nikkor 24mm lens attached to a Nikon F2 that slipped thorough my fingers and crashed to the dining room floor of my apartment, 6)Nikkor 35mm lens being splashed with flood water, etc., etc....

In every case, the front lens element was undamaged. I wore out one 24mm lens, there was no distance markings left on the barrel and it was no longer sharp until you stopped down to f/16, but the front element (and rear as well) were pristine.

If you are working as a photographer or just caught up in the moment, you will many times expose your camera and lenses to rough treatment. You will stuff lenses in bags or lay them down on rocks (or bars) and not use a lens cap. It's called normal use and abuse for a working photographer or an amateur who does a lot of photography. It makes sense to protect the lens elements as best you can. And you can get a decent optical glass UV filter for a lot less than you can replace the front element of the lens. If you are worried about flare, etc., you can always take it off to make a photograph and put it right back on--it's not a permanent lens attachment. You need to protect the lens from the unexpected incidents. It's just common sense.

Alessandro Mattiacci , July 13, 2001; 11:57 A.M.

I have noticed that often the humidity of finger soils the lens surface through the thin lens cleaning paper that I use. So I use it loosely wadded. Or I use it,sheet-wise, but I take 2-3 sheet at a time.

Nathan Wynn , November 20, 2001; 07:57 P.M.

I use double tipped cotton q-tips, and blow (hard) the dust off (and any gritty stuff that might happen to be there) then I use the 100% cotton q tip to clean off my breath from the glass. No scratches or problems. Cotton.

Mike Barnhart , December 13, 2001; 10:50 A.M.

I know lots of purists are concerned about the optical imperfections of UV filters. Instead of using one to protect the front element, I recomend a rigid lens hood to protect the front element from fingers, bangs, etc.

Roger Shrader , February 02, 2002; 01:44 P.M.

Three cheers for ROR. I managed to clean an old lens that I thought would never come clean. It is a great thing to have in the bag.

Jason Monfort , March 01, 2002; 11:50 A.M.

Using a UV filter as lense protection is a double edged sword. Although a previous poster relates a number of "saves", I had a Nikkor 35-70 hit linoleum after a 30 inch fall - landing on the front end. The UV filter broke, scratching the front element. New front element from Nikon service = $200. It comes down to a question of luck...

As for lense cleaning - 3M makes an excellent microfiber cloth specifically for optical cleaning. If you can locate a supplier, please post it - I was lucky enough to get a sample from a 3M rep but have been unabale to locate a dealer.

Brian McNeil , March 06, 2002; 07:15 A.M.

I'm a photographer by hobby only, but professionally I'm an optical engineer and have worked with all sorts of critical (and less critical) optics (infrared, visible, and ultraviolet lenses, mirrors, coated, uncoated, etc), and thought I'd throw in my two cents.

Probably the most important thing to consider when cleaning optics: beware of SAND! I know that everyone recommends using those cleaning cloths in a circular motion, but that it is really an *incredibly* risky thing to do. If there is even one tiny bit of sand or glass or other hard material under that cloth, you just made a whole bunch of pretty *permanent* circles on your lens. This is also the reason why doing what you can to minimize how often the lens is cleaned is important. Perhaps you did make those circle scratches on your lens. But maybe they're not too deep. Do they scatter light and decrease the contrast on your negative? Sure. A lot? Probably not too much. But if you clean your lens once a week (or day?) and continue adding these scratches, it will become real noticeable in a hurry.

For cleaning an optical surface, straight wipes are much better. And for those of you who are really paranoid, you should switch to a different part of the cloth for *each* wipe. That way, if you did pick up a bit of sand, you won't drag it across again on the next wipe.

Dusting off lenses before using a cloth is important because it (hopefully) removes any abrasive materials.

I would also definitely steer clear of using any cloth that isn't sold as a product specifically for cleaning optics. T-shirts may be nice and soft to the touch, but how sure are you that a spec of sand (or thousands?) isn't stuck in that shirt from the last time you went to the beach or worked in the yard (or there when you bought it)? Sure enough to risk scratching your $2000 300 mm Nikkor? It really isn't worth it. Paper towels, tissue paper, cotton swabs... I have seen all of these readily scratch glass. But these are not manufactured or packaged to ensure that they do not contain *any* abrasive materials. If you know anyone who has regularly cleaned their eyeglasses with tissues or paper towels for a long time, take a look at their eyeglasses with a really bright flashlight and you'll see what might happen to your lens.

Why am I going on so much about sand? Because the damage is permanent. Once a scratch is there, it's not coming off.

As far as cleaning solutions go... Again, I'd stick with ones that are supposed to be for optics. I am not sure what type of AR coatings are put on camera lenses, but many are quite durable and resistant to many solvents (we use isopropanol, methanol, acetone, toluene, sometimes even dish washing detergent). Since camera lenses are consumer products, I would expect the coatings to be pretty durable. But again, it comes down to quality... Rubbing alcohol has isopropanol in it but only a few percent. The rest is water, detergent and who knows what. I don't expect that the stuff sold as "pure" isopropanol is as good as the stuff I would use at work (reagent-grade, contaminants are measured in parts per million!) but it's far better than rubbing alcohol (and cheaper than reagent-grade too:). That goes for "exhaled water vapor" too... Do you know what's in it? Well I don't either, and I wouldn't risk putting it on my lens. Biological materials tend to be difficult to clean and corrosive if left on coatings for long periods (fingerprints can permanently damage a coating if left long enough).

And here's a tip: If you've just put some cleaning fluid on your cloth and tried wiping off a fingerprint, and there's still some there, wet another spot of the cloth (or a new cloth) and wipe again. Don't continue to reuse the cloth that isn't working. The solvent can only take up so much dirt before it is saturated (remember chemistry class?), and more wiping just moves the dirt around, instead of dissolving it.

Lastly, someone above mentioned that looking at your lens with a bright light will reveal any dirt and dust. That's just how it's done in the optics world. Just a word of caution though: even a brand new, freshly opened lens may show "a lot" of "imperfections" under a good bright light. I suppose only someone who is trained in inspecting optics can really tell what's normal and what isn't, but anyone can look for grossly wrong things. There should be essentially *no* smudges or other things which cover a large area on the lens. Most acceptable imperfections will be just little point-sized things. If you can count the dust particles on your lens, you're in good shape. If there are so many that you could never count them all, then you probably need a good cleaning.

Hope this helps. Brian

Guclu Atamer , May 21, 2002; 04:49 P.M.

I tried most of the cleaning cloths , the best cloth is absolutely 3M Microfiber lense cleaning cloth .

Thomas Mok , July 03, 2002; 02:08 P.M.

Years ago, I bought a couple of bottles of Polaroid cleaning fluid to clean the anti-static screen that I used in front of my computer's monitor. As far as I could tell, the screen was a polarizer and it was heavily coated. The fluid worked extremely well for that purpose. Two bottles go a long way, and I still have a bottle and a half left. Now, I use it to clean my monitor (the anti-static screen is no longer used) as well as my laptop monitor. Speaking of laptop monitor, this is the only thing that will clean the screen to its brand new condition, no streak, smear, nothing whatsoever.

If camera lenses are anything like the polarizing screen that I used, the Polaroid cleaning fluid will work very well.

christ charm , August 30, 2002; 12:15 A.M.

hey, I have sucessfully clean my SLR mirror. here how I did it. first I use a blower to blow the dust away then I took a facial cotton wool , wet it with soap water. gently dap on the mirror. NEVER RUB. took another facial cotton wool wet it with water and dap the mirror again. repeat with soap water. repeat with plain water. remember never never rub or you going to scatch the mirror. finally I use a lens tissue to wipe out the water mark. bravo! it works for me. try at your own risk.

Mats Nilson , January 08, 2003; 05:37 P.M.

Someone mentioned Opticlean. Well, I tried it once and got so impressed that I am now selling the stuff. Partial as my opinion may be, it really outshines everything else. You apply a liquid polymer to the lens or mirror surface, let it cure, and then LIFT IT OFF along with every dirt there was, effectively restoring the surface to a pristine condition. NO GRINDING - NO SMEAR!

Ron Craig , February 19, 2003; 07:09 P.M.

A number of lens cleaning 'pens' are coming on the market - and Nikon themselves offer one. I picked up a Sima Lenspen recently, and it does a GREAT job. It has a small cleaning pad supplied by fluid at one end and a retractable brush at the other end. Very easy to use, no smears, and does a much much better job than any combination of cleaning fluid and lens cloth I have ever used. Go to

http://www.simacorp.com

for more information. (No - I'm not on a retainer, but this is a great step forward in lens cleaning technology and cloths etc. belong in the past in my opinion)

Mike Nunan , April 07, 2003; 08:59 A.M.

I'll give my vote to OptiClean as well - it is very safe as it doesn't involve any rubbing or polishing. You may find you need a back-up approach for really greasy finger marks however. I had one nasty dab on a filter that was only marginally improved by a single application of OptiClean. It seemed likely that three or four repeats would be required to get rid of it totally. In cases like this, a bit of ethanol or Formula MC would be cheaper and easier.

Also, I tried cleaning a Hoya SHMC (Pro-1) filter with OptiClean, and film could not be removed using the adhesive tab. In the end I had to use water and a toothpick to get the polymer off the glass, a process which took some time and left the filter badly smeared. In general I've found that leaving the coating to dry for extended periods (over ten minutes) tends to lead to more difficulty in removal, but a period of around 3-5 mins appears to be ok.

Finally, as I found from a posting elsewhere on this site, Formula MC is now available in the UK from 7dayshop.com:

http://www.7dayshop.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=9576

They also sell OptiClean but I've noticed that Jessops are now carrying it in most of their branches too.

selva sukumar , April 27, 2003; 03:59 P.M.

A couple of them had high praise for 3M lens cleaning cloths but couldn't find a dealer. From what I remember www.compusa.com sells it for $5.

Jon Austin , July 02, 2003; 11:29 A.M.

Mr. Greenspun wrote " Don't even think about cleaning the mirror in your SLR." I DIDN'T THINK, I just did it on my new Canon EOS 10D. There was visible dust and debris in the viewing system, so I blissfully, ignorantly removed the lens and cleaned the mirror and focusing screen -- gently and carefully -- but with lens tissue paper moistened with lens cleaning fluid; in other words, using the same technique as for cleaning lens glass. End result: much cleaner viewing system and no damage. But I read this article after doing it, and I won't do it again! (Probably...)

Paul Fretheim , July 06, 2003; 11:04 P.M.

As my mother used to say, for a smart guy I sure can be stupid sometimes. I guess I need to clean my camera and lenses more often than once every five years. The UV filters and polarizers were really bad. The lenses look sharper now too.

We don't have any camera shops near here, so I had to improvise. I live at the far edge of the Mojave desert in the Eastern Sierra.

One guy said to use vodka. Another guy said to dilute lab ethanol with distilled water because pure alcohol evaporates too fast. Several pointed out that the Nikon manual says to clean the lenses with ethanol and cotton. Vodka is pretty much 40% ethanol and the rest distilled water.

I had a bottle of Smirnoff triple distilled for exceptional smoothness, so I used that. I figured something that smooth would not scratch the lenses. Also, several of the web sites said to use cotton swabs, and there was a canister of them in the bathroom, so I used those.

>From now on I will clean the equipment more often. It really wasn't that bad though, considering how many sandstorms and snow storms and hikes and boat trips and camping adventures, mountain climbs and canyoneering expeditions the stuff has been through since 1998, plus banging around in the back of my station wagon over thousands of miles of dirt roads. I always have everything double bagged inside camera cases inside a duffel bag and then also have my best lenses in their own cases inside there when I am driving.

Camera equipment has a much longer useful life than computer stuff. I have been through four complete changes of my workstation equipment in that same time, from a change from a Duo 230 to a Duo 2300 to a G3 to a Titanium Powerbook and now to a G4 workstation.

Be careful when you use a household vacuum cleaner on the inside of the camera body though, those sort of Venitian blind parts of the shutter pull out and get easily deformed, I bet. I got lucky and they seem to have fallen right back in shape and seem to still function. I think I did remove at least one visible grain of sand from that sponge rubber or felt piece that the film runs past as it heads toward the shutter.

It will be interesting to see if the body still works. I am a little worried about the shutter, but it seems O.K.

Jay Holovacs , July 20, 2003; 07:18 P.M.

A word of caution, some people recommend methanol. Methanol is quite dangerous and toxic, far more so than isopropyl. OSHA and EPA place strong restrictions on using it in commercial settings.

Jay

eric alto , September 10, 2003; 09:42 A.M.

Everyone seems to be talking about the cleaning of lenses, which seems simple enough (just use one of the many soultions on a soft cloth). How about more tips on the bodies. Everyone has had dust show up in their viewfinders, mirrors, etc. Should the camera be taken to a shop or is it safe to do-it-yourself?

jon charles , September 12, 2003; 01:24 P.M.

This is just a short fyi...(I didn't see it mentioned in any other comments). But human breath, contrary to popular belief, is nothing more than distilled water, even if you just finished a bottle of everclear. This with a lens cleaning cloth from an eyeglass store seems to work well for me. The biggest mistake is to rub too hard.

Jean-Philippe Allard , November 24, 2003; 09:09 P.M.

I also have silica gel in my camera bag at all time... But lucky me, I work at a place where I can get as much silica gel as I want... I got nearly 200 small pouches of them! 0_0

I suggest you go in shops where they receive lots of stuff and ask if they could get some for you, almost all stores receive their stuff with silica gel in it.... They probably won't mind giving you a few pouches... (Probably not much though, because it's long removing all of it and putting it in a bag :P)

Rose L , January 31, 2004; 07:52 P.M.

When I asked my dad what I should use to clean my telescope's lenses he said to use 99% pure anhydrous isopropyl alcohol. That's what they used at JPL to clean the lenses on the unmanned spacecraft cameras he worked on in the Seventies. Leaves less residue than other alcohol types, etc.

Etienne D , February 26, 2004; 05:15 P.M.

here is an interesting link for ccd and cmos cleaning: http://www.pbase.com/copperhill/ccd_cleaning

Paul Bradley , March 07, 2004; 09:00 A.M.

A few people mentioned buying the bulb-type ear syringes at the drug store as an air-blower. You can also use them as a miniature, low impact vacuum! I take the syringe and compress the bulb first in the open air, then put the pointy end into an internal cavity (like corners) that I want to clean, and gently release the bulb and it sucks in like a vacuum. Just remember to expel the stuff it vacuumed up before repeating the process.

James . , April 24, 2004; 09:08 P.M.

I did a search on yahoo about human breath and fungus. I found that human breath may contain "yeastlike Candida fungus in small numbers". So maybe downing some nice hard alcohol of your choice or listerine would be welcomed.

T Crabb , May 01, 2004; 05:51 P.M.


HOW TO CLEAN LENSE FUNGUS

The following notes refer to my experiences over the last few months, having three of my lenses infested with fungus.

I have read various advice on the net and and at first tried one popular technique - exposure to direct sunlight. I had little success with this method even after 48 hours exposure. Possibly due to lack of sufficiently strong uv rays here in UK.

I then realised that I would have to dismantle lenses to access the internal glass elements. This may be easy, difficult or impossible depending on your lense type. I first tried an old Industar 50mm lense (no fungus but some dust inside). This came apart ok simple by applying finger tip pressure to the retaining rings. The next lense, a manual Yashica zoom, I managed to get front group out by applying finger friction to plastic retainer. The small end, with metal retainer was too stiff to move, but recently tried again and came out straight away. I assume this was due to recent warm weather allowing metal to expand slightly. The third lense, a Sigma manual zoom also came apart ok. The rule seems to be - the more modern the lense the more difficulty you may have dismantling.

As for cleaning elements then blow dust away and use cloth to remove fungus. Some kind of lense fluid would be useful. Avoid rubbing any dust or grit into lense elements. Also remember which way to reassemble as elements are not the same on each side.

Hope this helps you. If your lense is worth a bit probably best to have professionaly cleaned - otherwise proceed at your own risk

Shamrez Jan , December 23, 2005; 02:05 A.M.

Thank you guys for the information. My Canon FTB and a two lens kit will benefit a great deal from this. I almost forgot about my Canon when I bought digital.

Shamrez

Robert G , January 23, 2006; 07:14 P.M.

Hi I'd just like to say that the absolute best way to clean a lens is with polymer peels. They will lift *everything* off. USA has not had opticlean in the USA, but www.opticlean.com now sells 8mL bottles of rebranded 'first contact' at a price far less than waht you would pay for a smaller bottle in the UK.

steve marino , November 19, 2007; 09:44 P.M.

Thanks to Jon Auston. I took his advice and grabbed some lens cleaning fluid, wetted a lens tissue, and gently wiped down my SLR's mirror after blowing it off. Then I wiped it dry w/ a clean lens tissue. It looks like new! Whole thing took one minute. I guess the message here is just be reasonably careful, make sure there is no grit on the mirror, and be prepared to say mirror, mirror on the wall. Thanks Jon!

PNF Photography , November 26, 2007; 11:51 P.M.

Once again I just found these articles and this is very very helpful all the helpful tid bits!

Jackie Goldman , December 08, 2008; 05:24 P.M.

Thanks for the great article. I tried the advice and it really did make my SLR lens like brand new. I always try to be careful with myequipment. It’s great to be able to find new tips on cleaning equipment. Thanks, Jackie

Andrew Prokos , February 07, 2009; 11:14 A.M.

I have used denatured alcohol (ethanol) for years and it's never hurt my lenses. You do have to be sure to blow off the dust before you start swiping as you'll just scratch your lenses and the dirt will collect on the edges. I find using a generous amount of alcohol from the beginning works best as it degreases and you can wipe the alcohol away quickly before it evaporates. It takes some practice. Always it helps to get a small flashlight and shine it theough the lens with the aperature wide open...you'll catch much more dirt that way

patrizia sutton , July 18, 2009; 04:10 P.M.

I get an error message saying clean lenses i clean them but its still there should I be cleaning something else?

Jack Conrad , December 20, 2009; 04:49 P.M.

I recommend the front of your t-shirt dipped in a good Scotch to clean your lenses...

Mad Dog 20/20 don't work so good.

Børre Ludvigsen , January 10, 2010; 11:15 A.M.

The final solution to cleaning fungus from lens elements when all else fails seems to be toothpaste. My "UG" Nikkor-P 105/4 bellows lens was giving me decidedly foggy images. The front and back lens elements were cleaned with isopropanol, but the fungus on the internal elements refused to budge until toothpaste was applied. Here are the results: http://abdallah.hiof.no/20100109_105f4-bellows-nikkor/

- Børre

Gus Lazzari , January 22, 2010; 02:04 P.M.

After blowing off debris:

  1. Moisten a puffed up Kimwipe sterile sheet with ROR lens cleaning fluide (residual oil remover)
  2. Wipe affected lens surface 
  3. On the tip of a Q-Tip cotton swab, apply Lamp Black Powder (Atomized Carbon), breathe on the lens then gently wipe away all ROR residual 
  4. Finish it off with one last breath to fog up the lens element using another clean Kimwipe until dry. (Picks up the leftover carbon)

Works daily for me as a working technician...

 

JP Gee , March 17, 2010; 07:12 P.M.

This is a great thread... :)

I have found a new adversary when it comes to cleaning lenses - http://www.firstlightoptics.com/proddetail.php?prod=wonderfluid

I have been using this on a number of my refracting telescopes and 35mm SLR camera lenses and have to say I'm incredibly impressed. I'm not used to these sort of products but a wipe with this on a pure cotton bud followed with a polish with the opposite dry end quickly followed by a huff on the lens and polish allows imaculate views.

I'm not connected with this product in any way but I'm not looking for anything else at this time.

Amazing.

For fungus treatments - here's an interesting thread:

http://forum.manualfocus.org/viewtopic.php?id=13094

Markus Keinath , July 13, 2010; 06:23 A.M.

Thank you Børre for the info on toothpaste. I have testet the Zeiss recommendation cigarett ash and it didn´t worked for me. And I dont like to buy cigarettes :-)

I do a lot of fungus cleaning and documentation, you could find some fungus picture here, and here and here.
I use fungus cleaner from the drugstore to clean fungus off (not 100% but enough for my use up to now). Sometimes on better lenses I let the lens elements take a sunbathe, because UV rays are good against fungus, but do not transmitt good through glass.

For normal cleaning I use isopropanol and sometimes salvia. And most times a old dozen times washed cotton t-shirt.

 

 

Joe Heitzeberg , March 15, 2011; 06:20 P.M.

Wow, it has been a while since anyone posted here :)   Just thought I would add my post to the mix, since I've just done a thorough survey of all the DSLR cleaning kits and accessories out there and shared with the world on my blog.  Enjoy!

 

http://d7000-microphones.com/2011/03/the-ultimate-guide-to-cleaning-your-dslr

Ed Hamlin , July 18, 2011; 06:55 P.M.

If you don't have easy access to silica desiccant bags the another option is to use rice in an old nylon stocking. it will keep you equipment fairly dry in moderately moist climates. Old school restaurants use it in salt and sugar dispensers to keep the contents dry.

I have heard of the practice of plastic bagging gear when traveling to prevent moisture from accumulating, this is not a great idea, it is better to have the camera exposed to natural elements than being enclosed.

I have shot in hurricanes, thunderstorms, and constant rain-showers. yes the moisture can present a corrosion problem but only if you don't let everything dry out. imply placing it near a fan but not in the direct air flow is a good practice if it gets wet.

Lastly, the best rule of thumb is to have insurance on your gear for accidental damage and theft. It is worth the monthly premium if you own pro-sumer or pro-grade bodies and lenses. I think about the least expensive lens and Bodies I have and it would take about $2500 to replace them new. It is well worth the investment.Take the time to pencil out the cost of insurance vs replacement of gear, there is a point where insurance doesn't make sense though and you need to figure that out.

Happy hunting and take some risks they are well worth it!


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