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How To Clean A Camera Lens

These tips on how to clean a camera lens are for anyone who wants to keep their lens in top working condition in order to keep taking high-quality photos.. It’s common for our lenses pick up dirt, dust and grime over time, but cleaning a lens can make a huge difference to our photos.

You’ll be happy to hear that there is specialist lens cleaning gear available, which we always recommend over using your shirt sleeve, jumper or handkerchief! Cleaning gear won’t damage your camera lens if used correctly, helping to prolong the life of your equipment.

Photography tips - how to clean a camera lens

Why Should You Clean Camera Lenses?

Our lenses can pick up dirt when stored in a camera bag, when we put them down without caps, or when we’re shooting outdoors. However, cleaning your camera lenses keeps all of the dust, dirt and grime off the front and rear elements, which can show up in your photos as spots or smears.

Not only will a clean lens yield cleaner image files, but it will also help stop the lens from getting damaged over time. If dirt builds up, we could end up scratching the lens elements, which can be a very costly problem, so reasonably regular maintenance keeps our lenses safer in the long run.

Spudz lens cleaning micro fibre cloth

How to Tell if Your Camera Lens Needs Cleaning

There are a couple of easy ways to tell when your lens needs cleaning, including:

  1. You see dust or smears on your photos
  2. You see dirt on the front element when holding it up to the light

If you see smears on your photos but cannot see any dirt on the lens when you hold it up to the light you could always take a photo of a blank piece of white paper. When you zoom into your photo you should be able to see where the offending material is on the lens.

Depending on whether you shoot indoors or outside, it can be worth cleaning your lenses every few weeks, but we usually recommend cleaning just when needed. Some landscape or wildlife photographers clean their gear more frequently as it gets dirty more quickly, so think about whether you shoot outside a lot. If you have an important session coming up, you might want to check your gear the night before so you know you can rely on it being clean.

ZEISS lens cleaning kit

The Essential Camera Cleaning Accessories

You don’t need loads of accessories, nor do you need to spend a lot of money to keep your equipment spick and span. You can even get a camera cleaning kit with everything you need in one bundle, so we’ve listed some of our top picks for must-have cleaning essentials:

  • Lenspen Hurricane Blower – this blows dirt off before you wipe so the lens doesn’t get scratched. PRO TIP – if you get water droplets on your lens from rain, a seascape or waterfall, you can just blow the droplets off with this blower.
  • ZEISS Lens Wipes 24 Pack – these are great if you want to travel light and bring an all-in-one pre-moistened wipe with cleaning solution in individual wrappers. These wipes are single-use, so we recommend planting a tree to offset the carbon because they’re totally worth it.
  • ZEISS Lens Cleaning Kit – we love ZEISS who design some of the best lenses in the world, which makes them an authority on a complete kit with everything you need all-in-one.
  • Spudz 10 x 10 Ultra Lens Cloth In Pouch – you can get Spudz microfibre cloths in all sorts of colours and sizes, with this 10x10 being a favourite, thanks to its useful size and neutral colour. Get a handful of these if you can and why not mix and match colours too?
  • VisibleDust Lens Clean 30ml Cleaning Solution – this small bottle of lens cleaner is cost-effective and easy to bring on any shoot, complementing the Spudz cloth perfectly.

Lenspen hurricane blower for dust on your lens

How to Clean a Camera Lens

When it comes to cleaning your camera lens, try and work in a clean and wind-free environment if possible. This reduces the chance of more dirt getting onto the lens or sensor while you’re working.

Once you’ve got your cleaning gear, you’re ready to clean your lens. Here’s a step-by-step method for going about it:

  1. Try and work in a clean and wind-free environment if possible. This reduces the chance of more dirt getting onto the lens, or on the sensor while you’re working.
  2. Firstly use a lens blower to blow all loose dust and dirt off the lens. Angle the lens downwards so dirt is repelled away from the front element and gently blow onto the front element by squeezing the blower. You can be thorough with this important step before moving on.
  3. Once you’re certain all loose debris has been blown away, take a lens wipe which is pre-moistened like the ZEISS wipes listed above, or get a microfibre lens cloth at the ready. Use the same process whichever cloth you use, however if using a dry lens cloth make sure it is clean and free from dirt itself, to avoid more smears or scratching. Drop a few drops of lens cleaning solution onto the cloth and gently start cleaning from the centre of the lens element outwards. Use a circular motion moving steadily outwards and don’t press too hard, nor go over the same bit of glass repeatedly. This should get rid of oil smears from your fingers and any other stubborn marks. Repeat from step two if you can still see anything on the lens.

Avoid pressing too hard or cleaning your lenses unnecessarily, as this may damage lens coatings. It is essential to always use a clean cloth, which makes it worth having a few cleaning cloths for each shoot, so that you can move on to the next if one gets contaminated with dirt.

Lens wipes from ZEISS in single use packets

How to Keep Your Camera Lens Clean

It’s a good idea to try and keep your lens clean with a few simple good habits. Always use lens caps (front and rear) when a lens is not in use. Always avoid touching the front (or rear) lens elements with your fingers, which can easily transfer dirt, oil and smudges. Using a lens hood will, by default, keep our fingers away from the front element, which works well in a number of shooting situations. Keep your camera bag clean and dust-free and try to keep dust off when changing lenses if possible.

You can also get a clear protector filter or UV lens filter to keep the lens element clean. This means you’ll be cleaning the filter rather than the lens itself, which works well for a lot of photographers.

We hope you found this post useful and learned some new tips for keeping your camera lens clean and dust-free so you can keep taking high-quality photos. Take a peek at our comprehensive camera cleaning equipment, where you will find plenty of options, along with customer reviews to help you choose your perfect cleaning accessories. Take a peek at our comprehensive camera cleaning department, where you will find plenty of options along with customer reviews to help choose your perfect cleaning accessories.

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By Park Cameras on 18/11/2021

Trade in your old equipment

Fast and easy trade in service ensures your old gear is collected efficiently and you are paid quickly! It's very simple to trade in your unwanted photography gear. Just head over to our dedicated Sell or Part Exchange page, fill out the details, and we'll get back to you with an offer for your old gear. Take the cash, or put it towards the cost of your new gear. It's up to you! Find out more