Join Tim Grey for an in-depth discussion in this video Lens cleaning options for best lens maintenance, part of Photo Gear Weekly.
- For this episode of Photo Gear Weekly, I wanted to revisit Camera Doctor in New York City. Mostly, to be honest, I wanted to come back and check out the really cool old cameras that they've got here, some of which you're working on. Maybe some of these are just collectors items, I don't know. There's some pretty cool gear here. - Little of both, yes. - So, Matt here is gonna help us out. This time we're gonna talk about lens cleaning. Now, I think, Matt, that lenses don't get a whole lot of attention. We put 'em to use, we put 'em back in our camera bag, don't really think about maintenance so much. I know the big piece of maintenance, I see this all the time in the field, maybe you got a little smudge on that front lens element, and I'll see somebody taking their shirt cuff or the bottom of their shirt and just wiping that down.
How crazy is that? - Well, yeah. (laughing) It's a little crazy, but we're all at fault. Everybody does it from time to time, especially when you're in a rush, you're in a wedding or something like that, and you get a smudge on your lens, just do that. But it's not really the best thing to do. You never know if you have something that's already on your shirt. Some sand. - Little grain of sand, yeah. - Something else, some food from prior, and you do that, and then you're starting to cause a whole bunch of other issues. - Making things worse, exactly. Now, I've actually had a situation on a couple of occasions where the problem's on the back end of the camera. I'll get an error message on the camera. And I've found that cleaning those contacts that allow the lens to essentially talk to the camera helps out.
Now, I've learned a long time ago, working with computers, that a pencil eraser is a great way to clean those contacts. Is that a good approach to take? - You can definitely use a pencil eraser, yes. Is it the best thing to use? No, but if you're in a jam and you just happen to have that, it definitely cleans it off. It definitely will get you through your event if that is the issue. - Is there too much risk that it's too abrasive, or as long as I'm not cleaning it too much? - As long as you're not cleaning it too much, and you shouldn't. - How often does it need it? - If you find yourself having to clean, you use an eraser on your contacts, then you might have a bigger issue than just dirty contacts. - Just the contacts.
Right, absolutely. - You know, you keep one in your bag, or if you just happen to have one in your packet, just to dust it off. - Sure, sure. - Then put it back on your camera, and you'll be good to go. - And we had talked about, in a previous episode, the LensPen. I mentioned that I sometimes use this for cleaning the sensor. You said that's not a good idea. How about when it comes to cleaning those exterior lens elements? - Better idea. - Okay. (laughs) - Better idea than using it to clean your sensor, yes. - What do I need to be careful about? I mean, I just use it as it is? - The same thing as your shirt. Just wanna make sure it's as clean as it could be. Make sure you don't see anything obviously on it. - A little grit, yeah. - Sand or whatever. 'Cause you usually keep this in your camera bag, never know what falls into the camera bag.
- Excellent. - Could end up on that. - And to your point about sand, I do often recommend to photographers before they get started cleaning those lens elements that they make sure that it's actually clean, 'cause I've seen situations where I get sand on that front lens element, maybe I'm down at the beach, and so I actually use a brush just to brush that off, make sure there's no grit before I get into that more serious cleaning. But in terms of other issues, when do I need to think about sending my lens in to someone like Camera Doctor to have it looked at, to have it repaired? What sort of warning signs might I pay attention to? - Well, depending on what brand that you have, sometimes the lenses, when you shoot upside, vertical, rather-- - Oh, right. - They'll fall out.
- Oh, yes, where the zoom kind of extends - The zoom, right. It's not supposed to. There could be something getting loose inside. You may need to have the lubricant replaced, that kind of thing. Also, back to the sand, if you've been to the beach or you've been on vacation or something like that and you find that you're using your lens and you hear it crunch a little bit or you feel it crunch a little bit-- - Right, those scary sounds. - That's another. Yeah, right, the scary sounds. That's another issue that you would wanna probably send me the camera, send me the lens, rather, and have us take a look at it. - Excellent, and then we can ship. Obviously if somebody's in New York, they can stop right into your shop here in New York City and have a lens repaired. - Absolutely.
- Is it possible to ship a lens to you as well? - Absolutely, absolutely. Either you walk in or you ship it to us. We take a look at it, we evaluate it. We'll be in touch with you with an estimate. - Get an estimate, right. - And we go from there. - Excellent. So there you have it. Give a little bit more thought to those lenses, and mostly just be careful that when you think you're fixing a problem, you're not making it worse, putting a scratch onto an element, for example. And also pay attention any time you hear a funny sound or a scary sound from that lens, then you might wanna have it checked out by a professional.