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Old Aug 10, 2007, 12:28 PM   #21
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Contriver wrote:
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Hey, what type of cloth do you guys use and where do you buy them at?
Hanes or Fruit of the Loom is what my wife normally buys me. I assume she buys my T-shirts and Underwear at one of the popular clothing stores. An old worn out cotton t-shirt is my normal cleaning cloth. ;-)

What are you trying to clean? There are products designed specifically for cleaning camera related items. For example, the "Lens Pen" is one way to clean lenses. I use an old t-shirt myself, sometimes with a touch of Window cleaner on it (my wife buys the vinegar based cleaners versus those with Ammonia).

http://www.lenspen.com/

Or, for cleaning electrical contacts, you can get specialized contact cleaner pens at places like Radio Shack (or they used to have them anyway). It had a wick at the top that the cleaner flows into. I use an old t-shirt with a touch of alcohol myself.

For sensors, there are many products available. Usually, just a puff of air with a blower will get specs of dust, and most are not visible unless the aperture is stopped down shooting something like a bright sky anyway. If a more thorough cleaning is needed, there are a number of approaches. Here is a page showing some of the popular ones:

http://www.cleaningdigitalcameras.com/methods.html

Use any cleaning method at your own risk.

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Old Aug 10, 2007, 2:43 PM   #22
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Can you see the specks on the lens? That is what I am trying to clean.


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Old Aug 10, 2007, 3:07 PM   #23
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They're not going to be visible in photos anyway. So, I personally wouldn't worry about a few specs on it.

But, if you want to clean it and want to be extra careful, I'd use a blower with a puff of air and see if that gets rid of any loose particles, or use a camel hair brush and just brush anything loose away. Any photo supply store probably has them.

I've got one. But, I can't remember the last time I actually used it. lol I'd be more inclined to give it a puff of air from my mouth and use a t-shirt to give it a few loose swipes. If that didn't work, I'd use a touch of vinegar (not ammonia) based window cleaner on a section of a an old cotton t-shirt for a more thorough cleaning.

That's just my approach. I'm sure others would probably "cringe" at the use of a cotton t-shirt on a lens, and use any cleaning method at your own risk.

I've seen people argue that cotton t-shirts could harm the coatings, too. Well, I've seen no evidence of that using old cotton t-shirts. But, then again, I don't doubt that some materials could be abrasive and all t-shirts are not alike. I'm also not a cleaning fanatic (unless there is a big smudge on a lens, I'm probably not going to worry about it, other than blowing off any loose dust or giving it a swipe with a corner of an old t-shirt.

You need to be careful not to scratch the lens coatings (which you can do by rubbing any particles into it, or using any cleaning cloth or tissue with abrasive qualities). That includes the typical tissues, paper towels, etc., you find in your home (they can damage lens coatings, and leave behind lint). That's where the use of things like a puff of air or a soft camel hair brush designed for that purpose can make it safer.

From my perspective, lens coatings on modern lenses are probably a bit tougher than most people give them credit for. But, if you want to be safer, use a brush designed for that purpose first to get rid of any loose particles on it, and then use lint free, non abrasive tissue designed specifically for optics (available at photo supply stores or eyeglass stores), or something like a Lens Pen for further cleaning.

As for my lenses... old cotton t-shirt, touch of vinegar based Window cleaner for stubborn smudges.



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Old Aug 10, 2007, 3:52 PM   #24
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I disagree with the entire philosophy. For the normal grime that might accumulate on a lens you need something to break the surface tension. Breaking the surface tension allows the grime to lose any adhesion to the glass and be easily removed. You have less chance of something scratching the coating, although I don't think that much of a problem in any case.

Those of you who had darkrooms probably remember Kodak Photoflow. It was a very mild detergent that broke the surface tension to allow developed film to dry spot free. I used that for years to clean my lenses. Diswashing liquid does the same thing if you dilute it first. If you wipe with a dry cloth before it dries it takes any residue with it.

Lens coatings seem to be a lot tougher than people think. I have lenses that are 30 years old and the coating is still perfect. None were ever babied. I've never owned specialized lens cleaning fluid and only recently started using microfiber cloths. I can't count the times that a little spittle and the tail of whatever shirt I was wearing constituted my field cleaning kit.

Rubbing alcohol isn't recommended for cleaning because it has a lubricant. Even that seems to rub clear with a dry cloth and the lubricant might not be the worse thing to use rubbing grime on a lens.

Other than the pros and cons of rubbing alcohol I think the discussion of exactly what alcohol and in what mixtures is a tempest in a teapot. I anyone has doubts about whether the mixture they are using is leaving a residue try it on a clear glass. Apply whatever mixture you are using and wipe it with a clean dry cloth. Look at it with a concentrated light source at different angles. If you don't see residue there isn't any. It isn't going to accumulate with repeated cleanings because whatever residue might be present is obviously alcohol soluble.

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For a short period, I was assigned to the Typewriter Repair Shop on the USS Bryce Canyon, which was next to the Optial Shop. (We could use their machine shop and they could use our cleaning machine.) A friend of mine, an Opticalman, left a cotton swab in pure ethyl alcohol overnight. The following morning, when the swab was removed, the cotton appeared to be OK, but the wooden swab handle (this was before plastic swab handles) was quite flexible. When the swab was allowed to dry, the swab handle was quite brittle, and the cotton deposited a lot of dust on whatever it touched.

In my experience, pure ethyl alcohol does disolve cotton.
It doesn't seem the swab would emerge intact from an overnight soaking if the alcohol dissolved it.

100% alcohol aggressively bonds with water. My chemistry prof said that drinking 100% ethyl alcohol could damage the esophagus because of this aggressive drawing out of moisture. It seems to me your observations confirm the moisture was removed from the stick and cotton.

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Old Aug 10, 2007, 4:09 PM   #25
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slipe wrote:
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I can't count the times that a little spittle and the tail of whatever shirt I was wearing constituted my field cleaning kit.
I wasn't going to suggest that. But, I've done the same thing. lol

In a more controlled environment (i.e., at home where I have time to do it versus out in the field with a bad smudge on a lens I want to use in a hurry), I personally use my wife's Window cleaner and a t-shirt.

She buys the vinegar based window cleaners and they seem to do a pretty good job if you wet a small section of an old cotton t-shirt to get any smudges, and gently clean it after that with a dry section of the t-shirt if there are any streaks remaning.

I would not use alchohol on lens optics. But, I do use it for cleaning electrical contacts.

Now, if everyone thinks that kind of approach is going to damage their lenses, fine. Be extra careful and use solutions designed specifically for lens optics or electrical contacts if that's what you're cleaning. As for me, I've seen no evidence that my approach is hurting anything with my gear. and I'm not going out of my way to buy specialized solutions when what I already have around the house works just fine.


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Old Aug 10, 2007, 4:51 PM   #26
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For the most part, I agree with JimC. Minor specs on the objective lens won't be visible in the image, except in extreme macrophotography. And non-chemical methods of cleaning should always be attempted before chemical methods.

And while I didn't cringe at his suggestion to use a cotton t-shirt, I wouldn't do it, nor would I suggest it to others. There are a couple of reasons why not.

First, cotton t-shirts have been laundered (I presume JimC is talking about old t-shirts that have been recently laundered, not just borrowed from his shoe-shine kit.), so they have the residue of the laundry detergent, fabric softener, and tap water, all of which would end up on the lens, might stay there for some time, and might adversely affect the lens coatings.

Second, cotton t-shirts are woven. That is, the fibers of cotton are spun together into thread, and the thread is organized into a regular pattern of knots arranged in rows and columns. When you look around in a National Cemetery at all the identical headstones, whichever way you look you'll see lines of headstones starting atyour vantage point and heading off in all different directions. The same is true of woven cloth, and whichever way you swipe the fabric over a lens, you will swipe those little knots of thread over the particles you're trying to clean, and over the lens coating, in a regular pattern, possibly arranging the particles into that pattern,possiblyetching the pattern into the lens coating.

Third, any piece of dust or grit that might have been picked up from thelens by the t-shirt (orin the t-shirt already, before you started cleaning) might be dragged back and forth actross the surface of the lens as you swipe, and this can permanently damage the coatings on the lens.

Certainly, doing this once or twice probably isn't going to have any long term effect, and under normal circumstances, lenses don't really need to be cleaned very often. But if we're talking about a lens you'd use in macrophotography, you might eventually create a pattern on the objective lens that will adversely affect your images.

And as to cleaning solutions, I very much prefer to start with pure water, since it is free of the harsh chemicals contained in glass cleaners of any kind. And that is what I recommend. If, and only if, pure water doesn't work, I add a small amout of pure ethyl alcohol to the pure water. Commercial glass cleaners are almost certainly overkill, will almost certainly leave a residue of some kind, and may harm the lens coatings.

I prefer not to take the chance.

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Old Aug 10, 2007, 6:41 PM   #27
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Did I misread all of this? Eclipse works well and it is Methyl Alcohol.
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Old Aug 10, 2007, 7:12 PM   #28
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hgernhardtjr wrote:
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Did I misread all of this? Eclipse works well and it is Methyl Alcohol.
If you've found a commercially available product specifically intended to clean lenses and/or contacts that works for you, nobody is saying that you should change.
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Old Aug 10, 2007, 9:06 PM   #29
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Works for me and thousands of others! And, no, I did not think anyone was asking me to change. My sole point was it is METHYL, not ethyl.

style="BACKGROUND-COLOR: #000000"Eclipse and other methyl optical cleaning solutions have been around for some time. Moisten a PecPad or SensorSwab with Eclipse and clean the lenses (and sensor if you have stuck on specs) http://www.photosol.com/eclipseproduct.htm. B&H, Adorama, etc. have it.
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Old Aug 10, 2007, 10:09 PM   #30
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hgernhardtjr wrote:
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Did I misread all of this? Eclipse works well and it is Methyl Alcohol.
Yes, but Ethyl can e used to spike your grapefruit juice.:-):-):-)

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