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How to Clean a DSLR Camera Lens

Good maintenance is essential to keep your camera in perfect working condition for many years. Same is the case with DSLR lenses. With usage your DSLR lens will get dirty and also oil smudges from fingers accidentally touching the lens, it also needs to be cleaned if for some reason the front element or the filter is exposed to water (when using the camera in light rain or when shooting at beach in rough weather – sea spray).

DSLR Camera Lens
DSLR Camera Lens
Having dirt or finger prints on the lens will seriously affect the picture quality, so it needs to be cleaned regularly. But the important thing to remember is; If not done properly the act of cleaning your DSLR lens will actually do more harm than good. So in this article, let us discuss the right method to clean a DSLR camera lens and also the tools required for the job.

Tools required for cleaning a DLSR lens

Air Blower

A hand operated air blower is a very useful tool for cleaning camera and lenses. It is not recommended to use it to clean the inside of your camera as it could make the dust which is settled in different parts to fly inside and may be reach the sensor. But it is great to clean the outside of the camera and lens, just make sure that before using it on your camera or lens; hold the blower away from your camera or lens and squeeze a couple of times to get rid of any dust previously accumulated inside of it.

Air Blower used for Cleaning DSLR Lens
Air Blower used for Cleaning DSLR Lens

Lens Brush and Lens Pen

Lens cleaning brushes are made from high quality fiber like camel hair. It is very useful to get rid of visible dust from your lens or camera. When using a brush make sure that you brush lightly and not hard so as to scratch the lens. Also make sure the brush is neat and dry before using it. An alternative to lens cleaning brush is the Lens Pen with a retractable brush and a cleaning pad at each ends; which could also be used for similar results.

Lens Brush and Lens Pen used for Cleaning DSLR Lens
Lens Brush and Lens Pen used for Cleaning DSLR Lens

Lens Cleaning Tissues

Lens cleaning tissues are very soft tissues and are specially made for this purpose. Do not use regular tissue paper for this job as they are very hard and you may end up with scratch marks your lens. Remember lens cleaning tissue is a use and throw item so do not re use it.

Lens Cleaning Tissues used for Cleaning DSLR Lens
Lens Cleaning Tissues used for Cleaning DSLR Lens

Lens Cleaning Cloth

Lens cleaning cloth is actually microfibre cloth which is very soft and is ideal for cleaning the DSLR lens. Unlike lens cleaning tissues the cloth could be washed and re used. But make sure there is no residue of detergents or any other material from the wash and that the cloth is perfectly dry. As it is not a very costly thing it is recommended to use a new cloth instead of re using old ones.

Lens Cleaning Cloth used for Cleaning DSLR Lens
Lens Cleaning Cloth used for Cleaning DSLR Lens

Lens Cleaning Fluid

Lens cleaning fluid is an alcohol based liquid solution which is ideal for removed oil stains and dirt from your lens without leaving streaks. The fluid is to be applied to either lens tissue or lens cloth and not directly on to the lens as it may cause damage to the lens coating.

Lens Cleaning Liquid used for Cleaning DSLR Lens
Lens Cleaning Liquid used for Cleaning DSLR Lens

Proper Method of Cleaning a DSLR Lens

When we mention cleaning a dslr lens we are actually referring to cleaning the front element, the rear element and filters if any. Dismantling the lens and cleaning the elements inside is not covered in this article as it is a job better done by experts.

Take out the lens, attach both front and rear caps, use the air blower to blow away any dust on the outside of the lens. Once you are satisfied with it open the front and rear lens caps and also remove filters if any. Inspect the front element for smudges or dirt, if you have been using a UV filter or anything similar then chances are that your front element is clean. If it is clean leave it that way, inspect the rear element and also the filters.

Lens Cleaning Kit used for Cleaning DSLR Lens
Lens Cleaning Kit used for Cleaning DSLR Lens

Use the air blower to blow away any dust particles and then use the brush to lightly brush away any visible dust and to make sure there are no dust particles with a higher grit that could scratch your lens when you clean it with tissue or cloth.

Take either lens tissue or cloth, apply a drop or two of lens cleaning fluid on to it and gently wipe your lens. It is recommended to wipe the lens from the center to the edges or use a circular motion. An old practice of seasoned photographers is to breathe on the lens instead of using cleaning fluid.

And before we finish this article a couple of tips to prevent your dslr lens from getting dirty.

Always use a UV filter over your lens, if dust accumulates and cleaning is required it is the comparatively inexpensive filter that requires cleaning and not your lens element. Also use silica gel inside of your camera bag and also where you store your camera to prevent moisture from causing damage to your equipment. Make sure you periodically change gels as they become useless over time.

In the next article we will discuss about Photography - Tips For Beginners - How to Prevent Dust on Your DSLR Camera Sensor

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