Tuesday, March 5, 2013

HOW TO CLEAN YOUR LENS AND FILTERS



TOOLS FOR CLEANING LENSES AND FILTERS
  • Air blower (Never canned air!)
  • Camel-hair brush
  • Lens tissue or micro-fiber cloth
  • PANCRO
  • Methyl alcohol or Ethel alcohol

THE PROPER TECHNIQUE FOR CLEANING YOUR LENS OR FILTER
The surface of most camera’s lens has a coating designed to maximize contrast, color saturation as well as minimize flare. These coatings can be scratched easily when cleaning a lens, so it’s a good idea to pay attention.

1ST BRUSH OFF THE DIRT
If dust is the only problem, use a camel hair brush. Avoid using pressurized canned air. Canned air can actually blow dirt INTO the lens. Use a brush first will avoid scratching the lens surface.

SMUDGES
For smudges and fingerprints, take use  a soft micro-fiber cloth, Kimwipe, or a piece of lens tissue (folded, not bunched up), breathe onto the lens surface (never dry-clean a lens) and gently wipe the lens surface in a circular motion. Repeat if needed using a fresh piece of lens tissue or clean portion of the micro fiber cloth. 

KIMWIPES AND PANCRO
If this doesn’t work, spray a Kimwipe with Pancro cleaning solution or try dampening the tissue or cloth with a few drops of methanol (wood alcohol) or alcohol based lens-cleaning fluid and then, very gently, wipe the lens in a circular motion.

If the lens if filthy, repeat the procedure. Do not press hard down on the lens. Let the tissue and the solution do the work. The best of all possible wet cleaning solutions, in my opinion, is "Pancro". I use Kimwipes with Pancro.

PANCRO
Pancro is available from several sources. All are mail-order. It is used by all of Hollywood's best Assistant Camera Operators to clean lenses. It not cheap, either. About $16 for 4 fluid ounces, plus S&H. Pancro advertises that they are the best. Their users say the same thing. Got valuable lenses? Use Pancro. You can find Pancro here:

                "Pancro Lens cleaning Fluid was judged the hands down best
                  lens cleaning solution at the Camera Assistant Olympics a few 
                  years back. It is considered the absolute best product in its field  
                  and is the first choice by most Camera Assistants world-wide. 
                  Made in USA."

SOLUTION TO PAPER
Never apply alcohol or lens-cleaning fluids directly onto the lens surface. It can leak into the lens (if unsealed), wick up, and streak the objective (front) lens on the inside. Apply any wet cleaning solution to the cleaning cloth or lens paper, first. Then do the cleaning. Some people like to fold the tissue flat. I prefer to bunch it up and apply the least amount of pressure possible letting the paper and the solution do the work.

EMERGENCY CLEANING
If necessary in a pinch, you can use a t-shirt or other cotton shirt or similar cotton-based material. Don't use facial tissue, paper towels, or polyester-based materials. A good photographer will always have a clean, cotton handkerchief with them for emergencies.

CLEAN NOW OR LATER


If their is a negligible amount of foreign contaminates on the lens and it is not going to affect film image quality and you do not have the proper cleaning gear, then consider waiting.


GOT DUST?
A few bits of dust floating between lens inner elements, or stuck to elements will have little, if any, visible impact on the sharpness levels of your photographs. Ignore it. Almost all lenses have some degree of dust internally. If you can't see it in the viewfinder; is won't be in the picture. If you see what appears to be dust in the viewfinder in a Bolex Reflex series camera, it most likely is on the reflex viewfinder and it won't show in the footage.


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