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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
Canon XH G1S / G1 (with SDI), Canon XH A1S / A1 (without SDI).


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Old May 21st, 2010, 12:53 PM   #1
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Help please - lens cleaning nightmare

I noticed that my new Canon XH-A1s had a few little 'spots' on the lens. After using it for while, I decided today to remove the spots with my lens-cleaning kit.

I have followed the usual procedure with lens cleaning: first blow with the air-puffer, then try to gently remove anything stubborn with the brush. The spots would not come off, so I had to break out the isopropyl alchohol lens-cleaning solution and gently dab with the supplied 'cotton buds'.

Here is the problem: the spots came off as expected, but I have ended up smearing the lens of my camera with dried isopropyl alcohol. Despite following my tried and trusted procedure of using one of the supplied 'tissues' (or cotton buds) to first apply a small amount of alcohol, then use a separate tissue to 'wipe it clean', I am left with a smear.

Also supplied with the cleaning kit is a yellow 'soft' cloth - usually this is the last tool to use in the cleaning process to give the 'final polish'. However the yellow cloth is proving almost ineffective against the smears. I am applying a little pressure, but am being very careful not to 'press hard' on the lens for obvious reasons.

I can remove some of the smears with the the yellow cloth, but much of them refuse to go (particularly the 'edges' of the smears).

The only way I can remove the 'hard edges' of the smears is to apply a little more alcohol to a bud and wipe them off, but now I am caught in a nightmare cycle where each attempt at re-applying and cleaning removes some of the old smear but creates a new one in the process.

I am using the same cleaning kit which successfully cleaned my XM2 lens with no problems. The soft yellow cloth would always take care of any residue hanging around from the alcohol. Perhaps the XH-A1S lens is different?

Appreciate some help or advice - I have a big shoot tomorrow and wish I had just left the spots, but here we are now anyway.

Note that I am very careful whenever I clean lenses, but the idea of 'how much pressure' to apply when using the cloth might be relevant. I'm tempted to push down a bit harder which I think may finally shift the residues, but I'm also rather terrified of damaging the lens. I use only 1 or 2 drops of alcohol, but as I say I am having to keep repeating this process and getting nowhere fast.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 02:29 PM   #2
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Over the years lens coatings have got tougher, so I'd expect the XH to be more resistant to abuse than the older XM. Have you tried gently 'huffing' on the front element and then using a freshly washed and untouched by human hand microfiber cloth? It works well for me on my T* Zeiss coated front elements and my similarly coated spectacles.

tom.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 02:32 PM   #3
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Rob,
A guess work... is your cleaning kit a recent one? May the last smears be related with impurity (humidity) in isopropyl alcohol?

[Edit: OK tom !]
After alcohol application, sometimes personal steam (no spluttering!) can give a good final touch, with *cleanest* cotton-wool in soft circular motion without excessive pressure, blowing the steam and changing the cotton-wool several times.

After that, will you not keep an UV fiter as a permanent lens protection?

Good luck!
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Old May 21st, 2010, 02:41 PM   #4
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A UV filter will certainly add to Rob's problems, in that it brings two more air-to-glass surfaces into his cleaning operation - not recommended when you'll be shooting at focal lengths in the order of 4 mm. The UV will be multi-coated (hopefully) and I'd never recommend using any liquids on multi-coated surfaces unless it was absolutely unavoidable.

A micro-fibre cloth is the answer. Wash it out in filtered tap water after every use, hang it to dry in a clean room and only touch one side with your fingers. These photographic cloths generally come with manufacturer's markings on one side only so that you can do this easily.

tom.
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Old May 21st, 2010, 05:56 PM   #5
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Thank you very much for your replies.

Tom I found a thread where you mention UV filters and cleaning: Cleaning your XHA1 Lens?

I had a brief experience with a UV filter when i first bought my XM2, but once I saw some reflections bouncing back into the picture I ditched it - short of filming in extreme situations such as with lots of dust or sand etc.

I don't seem to own a microfibre cloth - I have a 'lens cleaning kit' like this: Jessops - Lens & Camera cleaning kit - Jessops

Where I am at at the moment is, first of all I really do not want to risk any damage to my lens glass through over-vigourous 'rubbing'. However if the glass of the XH-A1S is different/tougher than that of the XM2... maybe I should put a bit more elbow into polishing with the yellow 'soft' cloth? I believe with enough buffing I could finally zap this alcohol residue and gain a clean lens once again... just that I have been wary about 'overcleaning' from looking at various (some contradictory!) forum discussions. It's difficult to know the best way to proceed as to how to fix this smeared lens glass, when re-applying a little alcohol to clear the last smear is also leaving me with new residues to deal with.

I can't see any other way out of the alcohol smear > clean with another few spots of alcohol > deal with new smear scenario I've found myself in. Perhaps I'm being too careful with the final buffing, but with a new 3000 camera - and not being any kind of expert on lenses - I have to be sure as I'm sure you will understand.

Andre: the cleaning kit is at least a year old, I was wondering myself about any 'degrasion' of the isopropyl alcohol, in that smears on my XM2 glass were fairly easily removed.

I will of course upgrade my cleaning kit ASAP and also track down a microfibre cloth on Tom's advice.. but I need this damn lens smear-free for tomorrow in the meantime.

Do I buff a bit harder with the soft yellow cloth in confidence?

Thanks again.

EDIT: I've tried a little breath on the glass, but the smear seems unimpressed with it (perhaps I should eat a hot curry first :D) - it certainly does not seem to help any removal using the soft yellow cloth (if anything I would say it kind of smears it some more). This is at least with still using a 'light' touch which may or may not be overcautious?

Last edited by Rob Harlan; May 21st, 2010 at 06:38 PM.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 04:08 AM   #6
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[I suppose using a protection filter depends on our environment; living near the sea, I fear the west wind which carries sea spray...]

The fail of your breath probably means that the residue isn't water-soluble. After an isopropyl alcohol application, the "secondary" smears may be greasy residue, that the yellow cloth brings on it. It's a problem to have several pieces of cloth, just perfectly washed and perfectly grease-free (as tom said, only pick them by the face that never goes on the lens), and briefly used before a new washing etc; because of that, I use a very good quality cotton-wool (long fiber quality, which doesn't produce "cotton dust"), each piece just picked with the same two fingers and only used for a few seconds.

But, isopropyl alcohol evaporating quickly, is't necessary to use the yellow cloth?

And have these last smears an real effect on your takes? At this point, respecting them has a chance to be a wise temporary decison...
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 08:45 AM   #7
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Andre - wise words.

Rob - you may well be being over-cautious, and the thought of a 3k camera and its vulnerable front element may be keeping you at arm's length.

What's this yellow cloth? Like a kitchen duster? Get a micro-fibre cloth - your local Boots optician will have lots to choose from. As I say, wash after every use and hang to dry in a quiet room.

On location I've been reduced to cleaning my Z1's front element with my shirt tails. I winced a bit doing this but it's better this than globs of water ruining every take. And remember, my Zeiss T* coated specks get treated far worse, daily, and the coating is as it was new, over 2 years ago.

tom.
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Old May 24th, 2010, 10:13 AM   #8
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The yellow cloth comes in one of the standard 'lens cleaning kits' available. It is very soft, though a bit fibrous as a simple shake of it releases small stringy fibres.

I will buy a micro-fibre cloth from Boots which hopefully will take care of my smearing problem.

I had to go ahead and shoot on Saturday knowing the smears were still present - I'm expecting some of the brighter outdoor footage to be affected to a degree, but hopefully the bulk of the recording won't show any problems through the smears.

Thanks again for your helpful replies.
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