The quality of your images is impacted when there are streaks or specks of dust on your camera lens. If you notice your camera lens is dirty, don’t blow on it or use your shirt to wipe it off. The lens is delicate, and you may end up scratching it or otherwise making things worse.
Instead, follow a four-step process that will help you clean your lens without risking damage. All you need are a few basic tools. Here’s how to clean a camera lens.
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Step 1: Use a Blower to Remove Dust & Debris Gently
While compressed air such as Dust-Off is handy to clear dust from other kinds of equipment, when it comes to your camera lens, you will need a blower instead. A blower is gentler and will effectively remove big pieces of residue such as dust. Hold the blower close to the lens and pump once or twice, then determine whether you need more.
If you’re satisfied with the cleanliness of your lens after using a blower, stop with this step. Sometimes all you need to do to clean your lens is to get rid of the dust. Every time you use a cleaning tool on your camera, look closely at your lens to determine whether it’s necessary to go any further.
Step 2: Use a Soft Brush After the Blower
If the blower didn’t clear dust sufficiently, or if you would like to make sure the lens is clean, you can wipe the lens gently with a soft brush. You’ll need to carefully conduct this step so the bristles of the brush don’t scratch the lens. Try not to touch the brush, because oil and other substances can transfer from your fingers onto the bristles. When you’re done, put a cap or cover on the brush.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Camel’s hair brushes are one of the best options for this application, because they’re very thin and soft
- Avoid jamming the bristles onto the surface of the lens
- Don’t touch the bristles at all if you can help it
Step 3: Use a Tissue or Cloth
If the dust is all cleared from your camera lens, but you can still see oil or water streaks, you may need to use Rosco lens-cleaning tissue or a specialized cloth. Don’t use your shirt or a paper towel. You’ll need to buy a cloth that was designed for delicate cleaning.
Dust-Off or Brillianize Microfiber cloths are a great option for this application. They’re reusable and help reduce waste. Keep your cloth in a plastic bag or other container, so it stays clean between uses. If you wash your cloth, avoid fabric softener, because fabric softener contains chemicals that will cause streaks the next time you clean your lens. Otherwise, you can use lens tissues, which are applied just once and then thrown away. If you do decide to use a tissue or a cloth to clean your camera lens, wipe very gently in a circular motion.
Step 4: Use a Lens-Cleaning Fluid
Need to take cleaning a step further? Use Rosco or Pancro lens-cleaning fluid. Like your Rosco lens-cleaning tissues, refrain from using a household cleaner and only apply fluid that was designed to clean a camera lens. Sometimes, cleaning fluid and cloths are sold together, so you don’t need to find them separately.
When you spray the liquid, make sure you avoid applying your cleaning solution directly to your lens. Direct application may cause little beads of liquid to travel to the edge of the lens, where it can enter the body of the camera. Instead, apply your lens-cleaning fluid to the cloth or tissue you’re using.
Lens Cleaning Best Practices
When you notice that your lenses are dirty, there’s no need to panic. Having the right tools on hand makes cleaning simple and effective. It also won’t take long. Dedicate five minutes to cleaning your lens, and your images will be back to the high quality you need.
The more you use your camera, the better you’ll get at effectively cleaning the lens without causing any damage. As you clean, apply these best practices so there are no scratches or streaks:
- Clean only when it’s necessary. It’s best to clean your lens as little as possible because this reduces the chance of damage. If you have some debris on your lens, but it isn’t impacting the quality of your images, you can leave it alone.
- Use a circular motion, no matter what tool you are using. Moving in circles will help prevent streaks. Begin at the center of your lens, then gently go outward.
- Never blow on the lens with your mouth. Although it seems like a quick fix, refrain from blowing off your camera lens yourself. You’ll cover it with saliva and other contaminants, making it harder to clean properly.
- Keep your camera bag clean as well. There are many potentials for your lens to get dirty both in and outside of its bag. Vacuum out your camera bag consistently, and store everything in separate plastic bags or compartments to prevent contamination.
- Hold the lens horizontally as you clean instead of upright. This ensures that any dust or debris falls away from the lens—not right back onto it.
Find What You Need at Wits End
Do you have everything you need to clean your camera lens? Wits End offers a full range of camera cleaning supplies and many other film production expendables, so you can be ready for anything during your next project.