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How to Take Apart a Camera Lens to Clean

Bret Leon Avatar
Bret Leon
12 January, 2023 • Updated 21 days ago
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black and silver dslr camera lens on brown wooden table
Simply wiping your camera lens sometimes isn’t enough. Taking the lens out of the camera and cleaning it separately is the only way to get a truly spotless result. But what is the best way to do this?

It is always best to take a dirty camera lens to a professional to ensure you don’t forfeit your warranty or incorrectly reassemble your lens. However, if you’re in a pinch, there are steps you can take to disassemble and clean your lens at home.

Every camera lens brand has a slightly different process, which is why we will be covering how to take apart and clean both Canon and Nikon lenses below.

Read Next: How to Repair Canon Camera Lens Error

How to Know When Your Lens Needs a Clean

black Canon DSLR camera beside lens

You might be facing optical issues with your camera without even realizing that a dirty lens is causing the problem. Below we’ve covered how to check if your camera lens is in need of some maintenance.

  • Set your lens’s aperture to one of the narrowest possible settings
  • Manually focus on a bright and clear subject that is far away, such as the sky or a white wall in the distance.
  • Snap a few shots.
  • Use your phone or computer to zoom in on the pictures. If you notice any spots, streaks, lines, or smudges that remain consistent across all the images, it is time to clean your lens.

How to Remove a Camera Lens

assorted-color camera lenses

Please read the following information carefully before proceeding. Two popular names in the camera lens industry are summarized below, followed by detailed instructions for disassembling each type of lens.

Canon

person using black Canon DSLR camera

To this day, Canon remains one of the most popular and widely used camera lens manufacturers. They are known for their stunning visuals and high price tags, which is why the following instructions need to be followed carefully to preserve the lens during the process.

Step 1

Use a flat screwdriver to pry the plastic band away from the glass borders where it is embedded. Be extremely cautious, since any accidental contact between your flat instrument and the glass may leave an unsightly scratch. It’s important to proceed with caution, as the band is not particularly sturdy and is composed of thin plastic that is easily broken.

Release the tension on the band by opening up one of its sides and lifting it to the opposite side. This will guarantee a risk-free removal, after which the following phase can begin. If the ring-like band has an adhesive coating on the other side, you won’t want that to become filthy, so put it upside down after removal.

Step 2

Now get a temporary marker and make a mark on the outer edge of the lens. Then proceed to remove the screws that were revealed under the plastic band with a standard screwdriver. The screws are quite small, so be careful when you remove them. If you try to unscrew it with too much force, you can crack the slots that hold the screws. When you’re done unscrewing them, put them somewhere secure, like a cloth or a tissue. The screws are crucial, so be careful not to misplace them.

Step 3

Wearing gloves is crucial to prevent smudges on the lens elements and rubber gloves are ideal. The reason rubber is preferred over cotton or other fabrics is to avoid small pieces of lint sticking to the lenses.

Step 4

Once you’ve extracted the lens from the plastic body, you can avoid scratching the lens by placing a clean cloth over the top of it and inverting the camera. Keep in mind that you should never use force to remove a camera lens.

Once gravity has taken effect and you have the lenses in your hands, it is time to clean and then reassemble.

Nikon

black Nikon D810 camera standing on black metal tripod

Nikon is widely recognized as a prominent competitor to Canon, and the company has been producing high-quality DSLR cameras and a variety of lenses for these cameras for years. You already know that you don’t want to risk these lenses for any reason, as their price is on par with Canon’s. Luckily, there is a way to safely disassemble and clean Nikon lenses.

Step 1

Firstly, as is customary, you’ll want to put on some latex or rubber gloves. Then, get your Nikon lens and a pair of tiny guitar picks, ideal ones with rounded tips made of a pliable material like plastic. If you don’t have a guitar, you can use something that looks like a guitar pick; just make sure there are no jagged bits of plastic. From there, carefully remove the plastic ring around the edge of the lens.

Step 2

To remove the edges securing the glass in place, first use a pick or similar instrument to pry out one side, and then very carefully peel them away with your fingertips. Keep the rim where it will be less likely to get lost. If you don’t want the silicon adhesive to collect dust and dirt, put the rim upside down.

Step 3

If you remove the rim, you’ll see that there are screws concealed underneath. Get a tiny, pointed screwdriver and begin unscrewing the screws until you have taken the lens apart.

How to Properly Clean a Camera Lens

photographer cleaning camera lens

Removing the screws allows the optical lens, or the glass lens, to be removed without any further effort. You’ll need to carefully remove that shard of glass from the lens and clean it thoroughly before you can put it back together.

If you are planning on cleaning your lenses, these are a few of the items that you will require.

  1. A clean, silky piece of cloth
  2. A plastic air pump
  3. We recommend using soap and warm water
  4. A glove set

Cleaning your lenses can be done in one of two ways, depending on their current state. If the fungus has grown on your lenses, you will need to carry out the following steps:

  • Remove the lens glass with a set of screwdrivers.
  • Take the glass carefully and wash it in a sink full of warm water and soap.
  • Use your bare hands to gently rub off the fungus. Keep in mind that only your hands should be used for this, as the delicate glass might be scratched by any harsher textures.
  • After you’ve washed the glass, dry the lenses with a soft cloth or a good-quality paper towel.
  • Put the lens back into the camera after letting the water evaporate.

If your lens is in decent condition aside from any lint, debris, or fingerprints, then only the following is necessary:

  • Disassemble the lens glasses.
  • Get a clean, cloth and wipe the glass down to remove any fingerprints. To avoid any scratches, a soft cloth should be used at all times. This can’t simply be done with a t-shirt or other available fabric.
  • Grab a little hand air pump and blow off any dust or lint that has settled on the interior of the lens body.
  • After you are finished, put everything back where it originally was.

How to Put Together a Disassembled Camera Lens?

Repair of a lens of the digital camera

We have talked at length about disassembling camera lenses, cleaning them, etc. However, when you were going through the entire thing, did you ever have the feeling that you might not be able to put it back where it belongs? The good news is that we will also help you figure that out.

At first glance, reassembling a camera lens may look like an exercise in rocket science, but in reality, it’s quite simple. You only need some time and gentleness to get the job done.

Take the time to clean the lens elements every time you disassemble or reassemble the camera. Remember to always use protective measures, such as rubber gloves.

  • Put the lens body back into the camera lens’s plastic cover.
  • Next, carefully set the lens in position.
  • Set the initial layer of the optical lens rim.
  • Then, using the spare screwdrivers you set aside, securely fasten the rim.
  • Stick on another rim sticky silicon layer.

Conclusion

We understand the significance of routine equipment maintenance to keep your lenses producing value for your investment. Luckily, cleaning a camera lens by taking it apart sounds much more complicated than it actually is.

If your lens is still under warranty, however, we would always suggest sending your lens to the manufacturer for maintenance procedures if possible.

Bret Leon Avatar
Written by
Bret Leon
Bret Leon is a photography enthusiast who indulges in all matters cameras, lenses, gears, themes, editing, trends, and the latest product releases. If he's not trying to freeze time by capturing moments during his grand ventures, you can bet he's looking for the next big content idea.
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