When it comes to cleaning gear, we’re either really clueless or incredibly overprotective. Taking care of your gear is a skill every photographer and videographer should have in order to preserve the lifespan of their gear and better your pictures. Here’s how to clean everything:

Lenses

Lenses are just a little bit less scary than everything else. Everyday, we clean glass: windows, sunglasses, etc. Glass as a material is very strong and can tolerate quite a bit.

The general principle to look at for cleaning camera equipment is to only do what’s necessary and minimize contact. Touch the gear as much as you actually need to. Most of the time, all you really need is a good rocket blower and lens cloth.

Step One: Blow It Off

Never use your mouth! You’ll just end up with spit all over the glass! Also, never use compressed air. Be good to yourself and your gear and get yourself a good rocket blower. We really love the Giottos Rocket Blower and we have tons of these! First, blow it away from the lens to clear any particles gathered internally. Then hold it as close to the lens and blow across the surface.

Step Two: Brush It Away

Now if there’s still specks, debris, or smudges, get a brush. The Carson CS-20 is what we recommend. We also sometimes use a soft, thick paintbrush. Never jam the bristles into the lens, just brush back and forth lightly.

Step Three: Scrub-A-Dub

If the steps above you fail, it’s time to use a cleaning solution and lens cloth. Use a microfiber lens cloth and we recommend GlassWax (a wax to keep your glass clean that you can buy at our shop). That little GlassWax will last you a lifetime. Just make sure to wash that microfiber cloth ever so often and use fabric softener.

With the GlassWax, put a small dab on the glass (like, the tip of a bobby pin) and rub it till it’s not wet and wipe with a lens cloth.

Filters

For filters, do the same as you do for lenses.

On-the-Go

When you’re out and about, carry the blower and lens cloth. You never know what may happen. Try your best to not use your shirt to rub the glass. Plus, it’s better to always be prepared.

The Mirror

Never and we say never…clean the mirror with anything but air. The surface coating is extremely fragile and will scratch incredibly easy. If it needs to be cleaned, we recommend sending it to a professional to get it serviced. Remember: dust on the mirror will not have any effect on image quality.

The Sensor

Before you determine that you want to clean your sensor, be sure of it. To test this, grab a piece of white paper and normal focal length lens (no wide angles).

Stop down to f/16 or f/22 (no more) and select a shutter speed that allows you to use the base ISO of the camera. Take a shot of the paper, bring the photo into Lightroom or your favorite RAW processor, then remove all saturation and increase the contrast. Any spots of dust or other particles should show in sharp relief. If you see particles, use mirror lockup mode or a very long shutter speed to displace the mirror while you use a blower to gently remove those particles. Keep the camera facing down during this process and be sure not to use the blower at full strength.

Now if your sensor is dirty (like, 30 or more particles that don’t move), it’s time for a full cleaning. Patrick Hall wrote an excellent article on how to clean your sensor.

Keeping your glass and optics clean is a key part of maximizing image quality. But don’t clean more than you absolutely have to.

IE Photo Rentals

558 W. 2nd St, Unit B

Pomona, CA 91766

909-713-4377

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Camera and Lens Rental Service for Inland Empire, Los Angeles and Orange County Areas.

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