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The Conundrum of Cleaning Lenses
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Why is it that no matter what kind of special lens-cleaning this or expensive micro-fibre that that I buy, the most lint-free and absorbent cloth for cleaning my lenses remains my T-shirt?


Comments so far....

It’s one of the great mysteries of life!! ;-) Right: stop buying lens cloths, save and cut up old T-shirts instead. Pass it on.

Mike.

— comment by Mike Nelson Pedde on May 30th, 2012 at 10:17am JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey.. I concur!

— comment by Chan on May 30th, 2012 at 4:33pm JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

While I will happily use a t-shirt for my glasses, my lenses are only cleaned with microfibre. Admittedly I haven’t paid for any of it, people seem to like giving it away.

The Gura Gear one I have is my current favourite, nice and thick, absorbent and also a reasonable size.

Absorbent, really? I’ve never seen a micro-fiber cloth that does anything other than shove the streaks around, so I’ll have to give that one a try. —Jeffrey

— comment by Chris on May 30th, 2012 at 6:38pm JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Gave up on lens cloths years ago…….have bags of cotton T-Shirts. Best colour for cleaning….black.

— comment by Richard (Qld - Australia) on May 30th, 2012 at 8:05pm JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

No idea why… However, I’d like to rent one of your T-shirt to remove the fingerprints of my 2-year old daughter as the products I used are useless… ;-)

— comment by Gianluca on May 30th, 2012 at 8:33pm JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

And seriously… a highly-engineered, weatherproof, rugged, professional lens with fancy coatings can’t take a gentle wipe or two from a soft cotton t-shirt after being moistened by your breath… then it’s more a status symbol than optical tool.

You, clearly, have never been moistened by my breath…. an experience not for the faint of heart (or fragile of glass). :-) —Jeffrey

— comment by JasonP on May 30th, 2012 at 8:37pm JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

まさにライトルームです。

— comment by uozumigentu on May 31st, 2012 at 7:51am JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

I too have come to believe that “microfiber” is largely a sham, though perhaps I have yet to buy a really good brand. I buy high-quality protective clear filters for my lenses, use a fine-hair brush and blower for day-to-day cleaning, then remove them and clean with lens solution every once in a while. Regardless of what I use — I really want a cleanroom — I still see flecks of dust here and there, but no smears or smudges.

Ken Rockwell has some good advice here (http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/cleaning.htm), and suggests methyl alcohol (though be careful, it’s very dangerous stuff) which Nikon advised him to use to clean an expensive lens of his years ago.

— comment by Bill Lear on June 1st, 2012 at 11:21pm JST (2 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink

Hi, I’m new to your blog-your pictures are absolutely beautiful!

I popped in to speak up for agreeing with Bill Lear, methanol is what we use on extremely precious lenses to clean them perfectly. Not a good field cleaning, but it’s wonderful to clean at home. I work with high precision microscopy (confocal) and we use very high end Leica ad Olympus lenses and we strictly clean them with a drop or two of methanol which we then wipe up gently with lens paper. If you’ve ever heard of it, lens paper is lint/fiber free and very absorbent. I’m not sure how well it would work in the field with moisture, but it might do ok (although I’m sure tshirts will always be easier). Just wanted to toss in my 2 cents on cleaning nice lenses properly!

I hope to enjoy your photography and interesting comments that accompany it!

— comment by Matt G on June 11th, 2012 at 11:13am JST (2 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

If you are looking in Camera shops (or related stores) for absorbent microfiber you are in the wrong spot. I’ve had excellent success in finding microfiber that will absorb the finger prints in auto shops. They are being used for both washing cloths, and polishing cloths. I’ve found the ones that are shaggy (like a rug) are generally better at absorbing.

Also note that microfiber is a process not a material. In other words, you can have microfiber made out of a bunch of different materials (I even have a couple made from bamboo!). This will, in my experience, have a bigger effect on the properties of the cloth than merely being a microfiber. The microfiber only makes it more absorbent or more lint free then usual.

Sorry for late post, been off the grid (in Yellowstone National Park) making photos of my own, and only just no catching up.

Hillsboro, Or

— comment by Hughman on June 14th, 2012 at 11:57pm JST (2 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

I agree with Mike. T-shirts do a great job. :)

— comment by cleaning experts on June 19th, 2012 at 4:42pm JST (2 years, 6 months ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeff
Not to sound off topic but, low pressure warm water followed up by compressed warm air does a better job than these contact methods described above. This non-contact method should minimise scratching of the glass.

— comment by jabu harvey on June 18th, 2014 at 3:11pm JST (6 months, 2 days ago) comment permalink

PS
Microfibre is only good as a mop of moisture but requires to be absolutely clean and used on an absolutely clean surface.

— comment by jabu harvey on June 18th, 2014 at 3:13pm JST (6 months, 2 days ago) comment permalink
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