Part of being a great photographer is knowing which type of lens will best suit your shooting environment. Each lens has distinct features, qualities, and visual characteristics for taking pictures in different locations. But all of this is worth nothing if your lens is not kept in tip-top shape.
Proper lens maintenance entails cleaning your camera lens from time to time, but only when necessary. If your camera lens looks clean and clear, it’s best to avoid taking the risk of damaging it through cleaning. However, if you spot dust particles, molds, fungus, or any foreign objects inside your lens, it’s time for a cleanup. This will save you from having to edit out specks during post-production and protect your lens from scratches.
This article provides a step-by-step tutorial on how you can safely clean inside your camera lens to avoid shooting in the dark.
How to spot dirt on your camera lens
Step 1: Set your lens on manual mode and focus on the furthest object. Lock the focus and be careful not to touch the focus ring.
Step 2: Set the lens to a narrow aperture such as f/16
Step 3: Point the lens at a white surface and take a few pictures.
Step 4: Carefully review your images.
Using the above method, keenly check for spots or marks. Zoom in on every image using your computer or camera LCD and check all the frames. If you notice any streaks, lines, or dark spots, you would benefit from a lens cleaning.
Essential tools to clean a camera lens
Once you’ve identified the marks on your lens, it’s time to gather the supplies you’ll need to be on your way to a better shooting and editing experience.
- Lens cleaning solution (preferably non-alcoholic) – cleans the lens without leaving any streaks.
- Microfiber cloth – outperforms other cleaning cloths due to its gentle and absorbent nature.
- Lens Tissues – avoid regular tissues because they leave fibres on the lens
- Blower – it’s a much safer way to remove dust specks than blowing on the lens yourself
- Soft lens brush
- An area with good lighting
Step 1: Blow away the dust particles
Your first instinct may be to just wipe at the lens with your cloth, but this can be harmful to your lens as you risk scratching the glass when wiping away dust or dirt particles. Furthermore, blowing on the lens yourself could cause condensation or saliva drops on your lens. Due to these reasons, a dedicated lens blower is suggested for this step.
To get started, place the camera lens facing upward. Use the lens blower to blow across the lens from one side to another. Its successive puffs effectively blow any dust or loose residue from the camera lens.
Step 2: Brush away stubborn particles
Using a lens blower might not necessarily remove sticky dust particles or other residue from your lens. That’s where a soft lens brush comes in handy. A soft lens brush removes all the stubborn dirt and gets to the lens’s edges the blower cannot reach.
With the lens still facing upwards, gently sweep across the lens in a circular motion. Most photographers recommend using a soft brush with camel hair since it’s thin and less harmful to the lens.
Step 3: Use the lens cleaning solution
Compared to other solutions, a lens cleaning liquid ensures that you don’t destroy the lens’s protective coating. Apply 4-5 drops of the lens cleaning liquid on a microfiber cloth. With the camera lens facing upward, gently wipe the lens using the damp cloth. Use a circular motion when wiping the surface.
It is essential to note that spraying directly on the lens is not recommended. Some cleaning solutions are alcohol-based and can destroy the lens coating.
After removing all the dirt, take a dry lens tissue and wipe away the remaining moisture. If you aren’t satisfied with the outcome, you can repeat the process one more time.
It’s a no-brainer; prevention is better than cure. Lenses are pretty expensive to repair, whereas taking preventive measures will cost next to nothing.
- Use a UV filter – they protect the front element of your lens from dirt.
- Carry and store your equipment in a camera backpack
- When shooting in tropical regions, let your lenses dry out after finishing
- Avoid changing your lenses in dusty areas
- Invest in lens hoods and caps. They prevent dirt from getting to the lens.
- To avoid moisture getting in your lens, store it in a dry, bright area
- Do not attempt to open up your lens. Leave it to the professionals, otherwise, you might end up with irreparable damage.
A camera lens is an expensive investment and in order to get the most out of it, you must make maintenance a top priority.
Cleaning your lens will save you time editing your pictures and can give your images an instant boost.
That being said, be sure to only clean your lens when absolutely required due to its sensitive and delicate nature. If you handle your lens unnecessarily often, you may damage it.