The photographers have to deal with a lot of hindrances daily. The ever-ceasing traffic, uncontrollable shooting environments, dead batteries, and much more. This is nothing in comparison to the time that is spent on cleaning the lenses and filters. It is a tiresome process, leaving very little room for rest after an arduous session.
Even professional photographers struggle with cleaning the camera equipment frequently. After all, the time must be spent on honing the craft rather than polishing the gear. It is agreeable to a point but the cleaning is a quintessential aspect of the craft and must not be ignored for a longer period.
Camera’s are exposed to every outdoor environment possible and are ruggedly built for the purpose. While the internals of the camera is less exposed, the lenses and filters bear it all. All the sliminess, dust and dirt accumulate on the camera and are observable after a few days. Improper attention to the gear can diminish the image quality and render the lens useless in some extreme conditions.
Here’s a step by step guide to aid you in making the correct strides in cleaning the camera lenses and filters.
Inspect your gear
The first and foremost step is to closely examine your lenses and filter. A pre-examination can save considerable time that is spent on cleaning everything. Empty your camera bag and spread all its contents onto a table. The bag should be cleaned after a few weeks as its interior and surface are more inviting to the dust particles. Inspect the lenses and filters in bright white light for dust spots, smudges, oil patches, and hair. These can escape the naked eye in a low light setting.
Invest in a complete kit
While cleaning a camera lens and filter might seem a two-minute tussle but the reality is otherwise. The camera cleaning does not only include rubbing with a cloth and replacing its contents in the kit. Try to invest in a proper, complete, and certified cleaning kit. A capable kit should consist of a mild air-blower, non-reusable cleaning paper, microfiber cloth, cleaning liquid, handheld brush, lens-cleaning pen, and a dropper to disperse the liquid onto the lens. Bear in mind that with the right equipment, your cleaning session will be less tiring and more productive.
Choose the right spot
Be cautious while dismantling camera lenses and filters in an enclosed room. The room should be adequately lit and should not allow dust particles to seep into the room. Choose a spot free from moisture and avoid sitting near a window. Cleaning your lenses and filters outdoors is a big no and should not be considered at all. The dust particles are very difficult to spot with the naked eye. Thus using an isolated room can reduce the risk of dust particles entering the lens.
Blow off the dust
The first step towards cleaning the lens is to blow-dry the dust accumulated on it. Use a handheld blower (non-electronic) to direct the gentle gust of air to wave off the dust that is present on the lens. Be thorough with the lens’s body too, especially the rims that tend to get dirty very easily. The dials and lens caps should be blow-dried too.
Use a micro-fiber cloth
A micro-fiber cloth is an apt companion for any professional photographer out there. Use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe off the dust and finger smudges after each session. Don’t overdo it, but remember the cycle. The microfibre cloth should be used only for the camera lens and not any other device. It should be unique to the lens to avoid dirtying the camera lens any further.
In the indoor environment, an assortment of microfiber cloths should be used for separate lenses. The cloth is inexpensive considering the price of lenses and should not be washed with strong detergents. It better not to reuse it multiple times and then repent later on.
Use the brush
If the above two methods don’t do it for you, then use a soft-bristled brush to clean off dirt spots. Be gentle with the movements and try not to scar the lens in doing so. It can be exasperating at first but believe in beginner’s luck and keep prying (softly). The brush should be preferably made of soft hair and should feel gentle if you rub in on your skin.
Dab the cleaning liquid
Use a certified lens cleaning solution to clean off the oil residue and smudges that don’t go away with the blowing and brushing. Be judicious in using the cleaning solution. Never apply the cleaning solution directly onto the lenses and filters. Spill a tiny-amount onto a microfiber cloth or cleaning paper and then gently spread it onto the lens in a circular fashion.
Not Satisfied? Seek professional help
After trying the above steps, if you still feel some spots are not going away, clean the flipside of the lens. The flipside is the most ignored area that many people forget to clean. If the problem persists, consider cleaning your camera sensor instead. Most cameras come with manual cleaning option and can be found under the sensor settings. It will expose the sensor and you can use the blower to try and clean it. DON’T use a brush of cloth on the sensor. You are not trained to do it and suppress the urge.
Take it to a certified professional to perfect out the flaws and complete the cleaning process.
After close examination, you can also know from him/her about where you went wrong
This is a comprehensive guide to clean your lenses and filters. However, being wise with the methods can help you in the long run. It can save you the frequent trips to cleaning services. The cleaner lens allows more light to travel through it and takes the same mesmerizing photos it used to render in the beginning. Do make it a habit to tidy up your gear periodically.