Proper Cleaning Method for Modern Lenses : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Lenses should be cleaned as infrequently as possible. When it is required, I would like to know in detail, the right way to clean a lens, and how to be rid of the film left by the Kodak Lens Cleaner solution.

Is a camel hair brush superior to a squeeze bulb or canned air? Is there another cloth used after cleaning to remove the cleaning solution marks?

-- Bruce Gavin (, June 18, 2000


Ten to fifteen years ago, I tried many cleaning products that did not work well for me. About seven years ago, I found a winning lens/filter cleaning strategy. I use a blower bulb to blow of dust. If there are fingerprints/smudges, I use a microfiber cloth. The cloth takes care of almost any mark without the use of cleaning fluid. If there is serious dirt (which I sometimes find of use equipment I buy) I use Formula MC cleaning. This cleaner leaves no marks (even on MC filters), and it removes marks left by other cleaners. You can get Formula MC and a microfiber cloth at The Filter Connection (

-- William Marderness (, June 18, 2000.

The Rodenstock cloth has a couple of advantages.

1: It is white so A: you can easily see the dirt (it's washable of course) B Rodenstock discovered during testing cloths that some colored ones would react with the cleaning solutions and the colors could run.

2: It has no hems, seem or sewn on tags all of which could cause scratches.

-- Bob Salomon (, June 18, 2000.

My last pair of eye glasses came with a microfiber cloth which works better than anything I've ever seen. The cloth was for the anti- reflective coating brand named "Crizal" by Essilor. Other microfiber cloths will take up some of the ick, but still leaves some which gets smeared around. The Crizal cloth is like an ick magnet. It would be good to know who they source this cloth from as I don't believe they sell it seperate from the glasses.

-- Larry Huppert (, June 18, 2000.

I use the Kodak lens cleaner too and when it has dried up, I breath on the lens and rub it gently again. This removes the cleaning marks. I wish to know however: Is this Ammonium carbonate solution safe for the lens coatings?

-- Paul Schilliger (, June 19, 2000.

I've tried different things and, when canned air or camel-hair brush doesn't cut it, what works best for me is Q-tips and Kodak lens cleaner. Put a drop of lens cleaner on the Q-tip. Clean a dime- sized area of the lens for about five seconds. Turn the Q-tip around and use the dry tip to remove left-over cleaner and dry the area. Then move to another area. Of course, don't rub hard or long - usually no more than 10 seconds or so. And I use this only when less invasive techniques don't lift the smudge.

-- rich (, June 19, 2000.

Hi Bruce, better confirm that Q-tip suggestion before you use it. I think I did that once and destroyed the coating on an expensive lens. I'd cleaned it once with micro-fiber and improved it, and the went to Q-tip and when I checked it under magnification I was shocked to see a lot of small/fine scratches. The Q-tip cotton might be very scratchy stuff. I don't know for sure, but I think it worth experimenting before trying it on expensive coated glass. Best, David

-- david clark (, June 19, 2000.

Mr. Clark is right on the Money. And I would add that there is no doubt that the Swabs are very clean(in fact steril) but that just means that all the Dirt and Hard other Natural goodness found in the Natural Cotton Fibers are too. I found this out the hard way over 25 years ago when I was starting out as a Union Projectionist. Boy was the Steward P-ssed when he figured it out. Aside from yelling that that was what lens Paper was for and that it was not for wiping my a_s with, He reminded me that those new Scopes cost over $2500.00ea. and were custom made. But boy did they shine when I cleaned them.

-- (, June 19, 2000.

I'm sorry. I'm real sorry to have offended! Yes I have a Name!

R.(Mac)McDonald It was a mistake the phone rang. But 6 nasty notes!

You guys are to hard core. But I will never send one without a name

in the future!

Once again I DID NOT MEAN TO DO IT! Now 7 notes!

-- R.(Mac) McDonald (, June 19, 2000.

For the last 20 years I've used a blower brush to get the grit off the lens first, followed (if absolutely necessary) by gentle swabbing with dry "Whatman 105" lens cleaning tissue. All I can say is that it hasn't added a single scratch to any of my lenses in all that time. All cotton buds (Q-tips) are good for is wrapping a lens tissue around to reach into recessed corners.

Whatever method you decide to use, check it's not causing any damage by shining a pen torch through the lens(es) before and after cleaning. This is the most revealing test I've found to date. Any small specks of dust, smudges and surface scratches show up horrifically, long before they'll affect the image contrast. Good for checking 2nd hand lenses before you buy as well.

-- Pete Andrews (, June 20, 2000.

Thanks for all the replies. From what I gather, no lens should be dry-wiped due to danger of micro scratching the glass or coatings.

It sounds like the method is to first blow off any chunks with a squeeze bulb or canned air, then take a quick swipe with a dusting brush. Apply Formula MC with lens tissue instead of using Kodak Lens Cleaner, as it leaves less film residue. Finally, use a micro fiber cleaning cloth to dry the cleaner and remove any residues. Check the job by shining a light up through the lens.

-- Bruce Gavin (, June 20, 2000.

Try a Lens Pen which are available from many local & mail order camera stores. A search will turn up many references to this handy device.

-- Chris Hawkins (, June 22, 2000.

I agree. Lenspens are the most effective method I've found for cleaning lenses and minimizing the possibility of scratching the lens. They're not cheap and I replace mine every 3-4 months or so, but they work well.

-- Howard Slavitt (, June 24, 2000.

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