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Old January 3rd, 2007, 04:13 PM   #1
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General Lens and Lens Filter Cleaning Techniques

I've been looking around on the Internets recently for information on how to best clean lenses and more specifically lens filters (a HOYA multi-coated UV in my case).

In the past with my still lenses I've been a little lax, frankly, and usually just used any old wadded-up filter paper without thinking much about it. Now that I'm "caring" for my roommates HD-100 (he's not techie at all) I want to make sure I'm cleaning the UV filter and the lens (when and if necessary) in the best way possible.

Trouble is, there seems to be a lot of conflicting advice out there--as one guy on some web site someone offered: "Ask five photographers and you'll get eight opinions!"

Naturally, I searched here first but didn't come up with a lot. Some people here suggested isopropyl, some suggested using plasma-screen cleaning fluid, some advocated mixes of water and alcohol. But all of those things have been warned against at one time or another on some "authoritative" web site Iv'e seen.

I realize there are different coatings and other variables with lens and filters, but it is still a little frustrating to me that there is no real consensus--at least that I can find--on general lens cleaning facts.

I'd love to see the Braintrust here hammer out a good, general, commonsense approach to lens cleaning that spells it out quickly and easily for anyone searching around on the net for answers.

Here are a few of my specific issues/ideas/echniques that I'd love to have comments on.

--I use canned air rather than a brush because I'm afraid that little bits of grit are hiding in those brushes.

--I have been using microfiber cloths to gently wipe little streaks of dirt/fingerprint oil when needed, but it has occurred to me that unless you launder a microfiber cloth after every single use, you can't be sure whether or not there is not junk on it that could cause scratches.

So, I want to go back to using disposible lens paper like I did way back when with my still gear. But I've read of people advising NOT to use lens paper--I don't remember why--but it's info like that, presumably offered with the best intentions, that really confuses me.

--Back when I was a younger tyke working the fast food biz a manager taught all of use to use coffee filters to clean glass because it was lint-free. Could I just use cheap ol' coffee filters to clean my most delicate parts? (lenses, I mean!)

--Some say just moisten a filter cleaning cloth with a tiny bit of water, others say not to--to only use alcohol or a water alcohol mix. Still OTHERS say NO!! you can only use that expensive stuff with a cool name.

I apologize for not having links, but most of the advice I refer to was gleaned at some time in the past on long forgotton web sites.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 07:15 PM   #2
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Hey Maat- I'm over in Marin, just across the GG Bridge!

I was Senior Producer at my last full time job (we had 21 Sony DSR300's) before I went out on my own 2 years ago. Now have 2 GY-DV5000's and 2 HD200's.

My philosophy (if you can call it that) is to never touch the lens- EVER! The only thing ever touched is the UV filter. My experience is that the liquids make more mess then they clean- lots of streaks. Therefore I only use a standard lens brush. If you are really anal like me then you never have to clean anything except the outside of the filter with the brush. The only time I resort to liquid cleaner is if the filter gets splashed or something. Then I use eyeglass cleaner with lens cloth.

I'd love to hear other's experiences.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 08:53 PM   #3
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I use clear uv filters so I have never had to clean any of my lenses before .

I used a lens cleaning kit once on one of my filters and I couldn't believe how many scratches it yielded. Since then, I only air clean the filters and occasionally wipe them with a soft micro fiber cloth.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 09:06 PM   #4
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As we all learned in science class, you can't scratch a material with something that isn't at least as hard as what you're trying to scratch. The majority of dust won't scratch glass, it'll just sit there showing up in your pictures. That said, it's not a bad idea to use a clear or UV filter on the front of your lens to protect it against things that are actually harder than glass, as well as keeping the lens coating pristine. The downside is that the resulting air gap is a good place for condensation to form if you move your camera between areas of greatly differing temperatures.

Most people I know just use terrycloth to wipe off the front of the lens. One place I work insists on using dedicated lens wipes, and not just the ones you get at Walgreens or CVS, but actual professional lens cloth that's probably marked up about 50 times from the cost of actually making it. Then they throw the cameras into their bags without lens caps. Yeah.

EDIT: Jonathan, filters are made out of plastic which isn't nearly as hard as glass, so is more prone to scratches. Scratches on your filters from cleaning them isn't indicative of what would happen if you cleaned glass the same way.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 09:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephan Ahonen
As we all learned in science class, you can't scratch a material with something that isn't at least as hard as what you're trying to scratch. The majority of dust won't scratch glass, it'll just sit there showing up in your pictures. That said, it's not a bad idea to use a clear or UV filter on the front of your lens to protect it against things that are actually harder than glass, as well as keeping the lens coating pristine. The downside is that the resulting air gap is a good place for condensation to form if you move your camera between areas of greatly differing temperatures.

Most people I know just use terrycloth to wipe off the front of the lens. One place I work insists on using dedicated lens wipes, and not just the ones you get at Walgreens or CVS, but actual professional lens cloth that's probably marked up about 50 times from the cost of actually making it. Then they throw the cameras into their bags without lens caps. Yeah.

EDIT: Jonathan, filters are made out of plastic which isn't nearly as hard as glass, so is more prone to scratches. Scratches on your filters from cleaning them isn't indicative of what would happen if you cleaned glass the same way.
My filters are made of glass.
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Old January 3rd, 2007, 10:00 PM   #6
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I used to think filters were all equal. I kept getting some strange reflection in my shots. I could see inards of the lens in the shot!

Then this old school guy gave me some of the best advice I've ever heard. He said to get high quality double coated glass filters from Germany- Schneider Optics (now merged with Century).

They are about $130 for a UV.

I bought one and blam! Problem solved. Never saw a reflection again- ever. The old filter was a standard Hoya.

Peace!
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Old January 6th, 2007, 03:48 PM   #7
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Any idea what the Schneider is coated with?? What cancels the reflection? The only think I know of is polarization, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I know... this if off topic but I didn't start it.
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Old January 6th, 2007, 04:15 PM   #8
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Optical surfaces are coated something like a magnesium fluoride. The coating thickness permits cancellation of reflections of light of a specific wavelength. A multi-coating can be tuned to cancel wavelengths over the visible spectrum, so they're about a half wavelength thick for that medium.

I don't recall the hardness of MgFl coatings, but for years have cleaned coated lenses using Kodak lens fluid and cleaning paper - I usually tear the paper in half and put a drop of fluid on the paper on the torn end and swab the lens. Then I tear a new paper in half, breathe on the lens and clean any residue left, leaving an optically perfect surface most of the time.
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Old January 6th, 2007, 04:45 PM   #9
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I clean my cams with eye glass tissue. One drop of window cleaner goes on the tissue, I hold the lens to the ground, and wipe in a circle. It works well and its fast.
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Old January 6th, 2007, 09:10 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the tips you folks have posted so far. Does anyone use lens paper or have any opinions on using it either dry or--when needed--adding a little generic drug store isopropyl?

I had read information somewhere that lens paper is not a good thing for cleaning filters. I'm sorry that I can't provide a cite for that because I don't recall where I read it. Is there any reason NOT to use lens paper for its intended purpose--cleaning lenses and filters?

My intention is to use these cleaning methods in the following order of least to greatest cleaning need:

1. Give the filter (a Hoya HMC multi-coated UV) a few shots of canned air if there are just a couple specks of dust.

2. If needed, give it a very gentle circular rub with a piece of lens paper.

3. Use a filter paper with a little isopropyl alcohol on it--still rubbing as gently as possible in a circular motion--to remove more stubborn things like a fingerprint.

As I stated in my first post, I want to use lens paper instead of my nice microfiber cloths because it's disposable. It seems to me that the cloths need to be washed and dried after every single use because of the chance of debris remaining on the cloth. I only have three microfibers and that's just too much washing and drying.

So does my strategy of low-budget filter cleaning seem like a workable system?

(By the way-- I don't know for sure whether the Hoya filter is glass or plastic. I picked up at B & H for about $60. The package says it's a Hoya HMC UV 82mm but it doesn't indicate the material. I don't want to tap it or mess with it to try and find out. Anyone know?

I wish I could afford a Schneider Optics filter, but I can't.)
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Old January 7th, 2007, 04:33 AM   #11
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I read a breif review of Purosol recently (http://www.purosol.com), sounds pretty good for cleaning lens. Perhaps one of the Sponsors resells it.
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Old January 7th, 2007, 10:58 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Barwood
I read a breif review of Purosol recently (http://www.purosol.com), sounds pretty good for cleaning lens. Perhaps one of the Sponsors resells it.
The Purosol website had this to say about using alcohol (among other things) to clean lenses:

"Camera lenses are covered with multi-layer lens coatings to reduce glare, ghosting and other aberrations. Traditional cleaners, containing harmful ingredients like ammonia, alcohol, silicone or solvents, gradually strip away these special coatings and destroy the lens. In contrast, cutting-edge, enzyme based Purosol Optical acts to breaks up the bonding molecules which hold dirt, salt, oil and grime to the lens surface without damaging the lens coating."

Does alcohol really strip away lens coatings? Or can one use drug store isopropyl and not have to rely on expensive proprietary cleaners?
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