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Author Topic: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning  (Read 2984 times)

expatinasia

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Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« on: May 03, 2014, 11:54:42 PM »
I was at an event recently and somehow the conversation turned to the cloths we use to wipe our lenses. This one guy said he had bought one from a country in Europe, and although they no longer make it, it is the only one he is prepared to use.

Do you have a favourite brand of cloth? How often do you wash it and how?

I was surprised to learn that this guy who is a full time pro photographer just throws his precious cloths in the wash with all his other clothes. When I asked whether he is concerned about the chemicals in the cleaning fluids (and more importantly the softener) and the impact they could have on the lens, he said no.

I used to collect crystal whisky glasses (I love a good Scotch or Irish whisky), and I learned very quickly that you have to be very careful with some of the chemicals you use to wash or dry the glasses - even to the extent of the chemicals used to wash the cloth that dries the glasses.

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Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« on: May 03, 2014, 11:54:42 PM »

jrista

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2014, 12:06:04 AM »
I don't use microfiber cloths, I use microfiber wipes. Kimwipes, to be exact. You can get boxes of them for super cheap, or whole crates of them for even cheaper. They are scientific grade microfiber wipes that are specifically designed with rigid fibers. It isn't so much the fibers that clean, as the pits in the wipe that actually collect and lift off oils and other crap from the lens.

I usually use them dry, no solvent, and I've never had any issues. No smearing, no scratching.

I don't use Kimwipes alone, though. I also a LensPen. My general routine is to dust off the lens with the lenspen brush end, then to use the kimwipe, then use the carbon lifter on the lenspen to buff out any stubborn spots if there are any. I picked up the three-piece lenspen kit, which includes a lenspen for lenses, one for filters, and a small one that I use to clean up my viewfinder eyepiece (which is by far the dirtiest lens element I have, and the one that gets dirty most often. :P) The lenspen kit comes with a microfiber cloth that contains three holding slots for the pens, and it bundles up nicely and fits into your pocket or a small pocket in a camera bag.

Between the kimwipes and the lens pens, I never have to bother with solvents, so no need to be careful with chemicals. I never have to wash anything, as the kimwipes are disposable and biodegradable. Eventually the lenspens wear out (they use carbon-activated lifters on one end, and there is only so much carbon in the caps...plus, I've noticed that if you aren't extremely careful, the brush end inevitably picks up some oils off your fingers, and eventually you either figure out a way to clean it that doesn't leave behind a residue, or just buy another lens pen.)

expatinasia

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2014, 01:33:51 AM »
Thanks for your feedback, jrista. I did a quick search on the Kimwipes and they seem to have quite a mixed reputation with some swearing by them while others swear at them!

While I was searching for them, I came across Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cloths Wipes which have got some excellent reviews and are reasonably priced.

I wonder if anyone here has used those?

To be very honest I had never given much thought to the whole microfiber issue. I am concerned that these wipes may not work well when I am working in the rain and the lens gets covered with water droplets - amazing how that happens, but you just need a big storm and rain at an angle I guess, and it must bounce off the inside bottom of the hood and up onto the lens. Last time that happened both I and the guy next to me were totally amazed at just how much rain had got to the lens, and a 400 /2.8 ii does not have a small hood!
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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2014, 02:11:17 AM »
Thanks for your feedback, jrista. I did a quick search on the Kimwipes and they seem to have quite a mixed reputation with some swearing by them while others swear at them!

While I was searching for them, I came across Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cloths Wipes which have got some excellent reviews and are reasonably priced.

I wonder if anyone here has used those?

To be very honest I had never given much thought to the whole microfiber issue. I am concerned that these wipes may not work well when I am working in the rain and the lens gets covered with water droplets - amazing how that happens, but you just need a big storm and rain at an angle I guess, and it must bounce off the inside bottom of the hood and up onto the lens. Last time that happened both I and the guy next to me were totally amazed at just how much rain had got to the lens, and a 400 /2.8 ii does not have a small hood!

Kimwipes are like tissue paper...very thin. They won't really "wipe" in the rain...however, they are superior for absorbing water droplets without leaving any residue or spots of their own behind. So you can dab a lens to pick up water droplets, and that works quite well (assuming the wipe didn't get obliterated by the rain before you got it to the front of the lens).

I'd like to see some of the negative comments you found about Kimwipes. It's pretty rare that you find anything negative about them. They have almost universally positive reviews at Amazon (i.e. there are 75 four and five star reviews, and only 2 three, two, and one star reviews each; as far as positive vs. neutral/negative review ratios go at Amazon, that is stellar!) Everyone I know in any industry that requires high quality wipes has only ever had good things to say about them. My eye doctor uses them (they have kimwipe boxes everywhere), a jeweler friend uses them religiously, I know a few product photographers who photograph valuable jewelry and coins, they swear by kimwipes.

They are some of the most loved microfiber wipes I know of. The next best runner up would probably be Pec*Pads, which are more specifically targeted at lens cleaning (specifically for photography). Pec*Pads cost anywhere from three to five times as much for half as many wipes (i.e. you can usually find 280 kimwipes for about $4.50, where as 100 pecpads are usually $12-14.) PecPads are different, structurally...where as a kimwipe actually feels rough (it doesn't damage the lens, the rough feel is actually what makes them work so well...it's a flat surface with pits), pecpads feel very soft. Pecpads do live up to their lint-free name, however they are not the same as a microfiber cloth...they don't pick up and lift off oily residues nearly as well as kimwipes. If you use a solution, pecpads work fine...but you already seem to know the potential downsides of using cleaning solutions. Without solutions, you'll often find that the more expensive and supposedly purpose-designed photographic wipes don't actually clean...all they really do is smear oily residues around.

I really, honestly do highly recommend kimwipes. I went through a lot of cleaning wipes and solutions when I first got into photography. It blew my mind how easy it was for oily crap to get on my lenses, and I could never get it off, or if I did, I eventually found out that the solutions I used to clean my lenses ended up just making it easier for more oils and dust to get stuck to the lens because of the residues left behind. (I eventually did fine one organic solvent that works superbly and does not leave behind any residue, but I haven;t used it since I found kimwipes.) Kimwipes are an odd thing...they don't feel smooth or soft, they have the faintest rough feel, and that often scares people off. That's the irony about them, though, as the pitted surface is exactly what you want for a lens cleaning wipe...the surface itself is smooth, the pits create a grabbing edge that picks up oil, and the pits collect it. You don't need any solutions, just the lightest amount of elbow grease and steady, broad circular motions, and you can pretty much eliminate every last bit of sticky, oily crap from your lenses.

I'm honestly not a sales man for KimTech...kimwipes are just the best lens cleaning product I've ever used, by a very big margin.

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2014, 02:44:41 AM »
Zeiss, Nikon and ROR lens solutions.
Pec pads.

Kimwipes are very versatile lint-free wipes, and I must have run through crates of them in my scientific career. But they do tend to flake-off, which might be a problem.

Do use disposable wipes in any case, though. You don't want to rub older grit on to the lens.
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jrista

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2014, 02:52:18 AM »
Zeiss, Nikon and ROR lens solutions.
Pec pads.

Kimwipes are very versatile lint-free wipes, and I must have run through crates of them in my scientific career. But they do tend to flake-off, which might be a problem.

Do use disposable wipes in any case, though. You don't want to rub older grit on to the lens.

Yeah, sometimes kimwipes leave a small amount of flakes. Since they remove all the oil, though, a light puff will usually completely eliminate any of the flakes left behind.

As I got heavily into astrophotography at the beginning of this year, I learned a little lens cleaning trick. You tend to use a lot of red light when doing astrophotography, as it doesn't mess with your night vision. I was cleaning the filter holder of my 600mm lens about a month or so ago, and at first the only thing I had handy was one of my microfiber cloths. I started trying to clean the filter holder (which has two glass windows that can sandwich a gel filter), and noticed that the red light made the oil smears stand out exceptionally well. I grabbed a kimwipe, and started cleaning, and within a few seconds it was obvious that the oil had stopped smearing and was disappearing.

Whatever wipes or cloths you end up getting, I recommend getting a deep red CFL bulb, put it in a dark room, and clean your lens under that light. You'll know in a heartbeat if your wipe or cloth is actually cleaning, or just smearing stuff around. A lot of the time, what appears to be clean in normal light looks horribly grimy and dirty under red light. :P
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 02:55:33 AM by jrista »

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2014, 05:59:00 AM »
 "I recommend getting a deep red CFL bulb, put it in a dark room..."

Great tip jrista - will give it a go!
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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2014, 05:59:00 AM »

brad-man

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2014, 09:40:44 AM »
Thanks for your feedback, jrista. I did a quick search on the Kimwipes and they seem to have quite a mixed reputation with some swearing by them while others swear at them!

While I was searching for them, I came across Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cloths Wipes which have got some excellent reviews and are reasonably priced.

I wonder if anyone here has used those?

To be very honest I had never given much thought to the whole microfiber issue. I am concerned that these wipes may not work well when I am working in the rain and the lens gets covered with water droplets - amazing how that happens, but you just need a big storm and rain at an angle I guess, and it must bounce off the inside bottom of the hood and up onto the lens. Last time that happened both I and the guy next to me were totally amazed at just how much rain had got to the lens, and a 400 /2.8 ii does not have a small hood!

I have several Zeiss lens cleaning wipes in all of my bags for stubborn oil-based smears, but 98% of the time a lens pen will do just fine. Never leave home without it. Nice tip about the red light and smudges jrista. I'll have to try that.

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2014, 02:12:46 PM »
Great tips on this thread!

I remember buying Kodak lens cleaner and those flat packs of Kodak tissues! When I got my first microfiber cloths, gee it must have been around 1995, I never bought those paper tissues again! I could put a drop of liquid cleaner on a corner of the cloth and clean things perfectly... For a light smudge, just exhale on the glass to provide a little moisture and the microfiber would magically lift it off - technology is awesome!

Fast forward to present day and your questions... I'm a lot with jrista - my lens pen brush gets first use to make sure surface grit is off... If it's  a light smudge, exhaled breath plus a Zeiss microfiber cloth... If the foreign object immediately looks to be stubborn - say ocean spray - then I go straight to a Zeiss pre-moistened wipe...

Sometimes, as awesome as the wipes are, there still seems to be a little streaking... I'll come back with a little exhaled breath and a microfiber - perfection!

I have never used the carbon end of my lens pen - chicken I guess - but I really should try it!

Agree again with jrista about the viewfinder! Gee, how does it get so nasty? My thing there is a Q-tip with a Zeiss wipe wrapped around the end... You get edge-to-edge cleaning - cause my big, fat fingers SURELY do not fit in there... Any residual? Your microfiber wrapped around the other end of the Q-tip and you're done...

Washes his microfiber with his regular laundry? *shudder* I remember when I got my very first cloth - the recommendations were to rinse thoroughly under warm, running water... I still use the same method... Squeeze it dry and "hang" it over something to air dry - which usually occurs fairly rapidly... I wash mine fairly often - merely using it will transfer some of your skin oils onto the cloth...

Lastly, when my rear LCD is nose/face smudged, straight to the Zeiss wipes! That solvent is the only thing I've found that cuts skin oil on the first wipe and just doesn't smudge it around...

Hope this helps, it was a fun discussion!
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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2014, 02:28:45 PM »
I have never used the carbon end of my lens pen - chicken I guess - but I really should try it!

Everyone fears the carbon end. :P It's because if you touch it, your fingers get black...but that just means it's working. The carbon bonds with oils, which is why it works. Your fingers get black because they are oily, but on a lens, the carbon lifts the oils off. You really do have to make sure there is no grit, though...you do need some pressure for the carbon tip to work, and if there is any grit, your lens is going to get scratch. But, that's pretty much the same as when using wipes or anything else...grit is death.

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #10 on: May 04, 2014, 03:27:19 PM »
Microfiber cloth.  In office.  In camera bags, etc.

Honestly, I have a filters on all my lenses and I don't worry about it that much.  I don't usually use any kind of fluid, I just breathe on the lens and use the condensation along with a microfiber cloth.

There are many times I am out in the field when I simply use breath condensation and my shirt, a napkin, or whatever is relatively clean.

Seriously, it's just not that big of a deal.  If I shot thousand dollar pictures for million dollar clients in an expensive studio I would be more fastidious I guess but when you're outdoors in dust, dirt, sweat, etc then what's the point?

Rusty
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #11 on: May 04, 2014, 03:52:04 PM »
Microfiber cloth.  In office.  In camera bags, etc.

Honestly, I have a filters on all my lenses and I don't worry about it that much.  I don't usually use any kind of fluid, I just breathe on the lens and use the condensation along with a microfiber cloth.

There are many times I am out in the field when I simply use breath condensation and my shirt, a napkin, or whatever is relatively clean.

Seriously, it's just not that big of a deal.  If I shot thousand dollar pictures for million dollar clients in an expensive studio I would be more fastidious I guess but when you're outdoors in dust, dirt, sweat, etc then what's the point?

Rusty

Dear Friend Mr. RustyTheGeek.
You are right on the Target "  I don't usually use any kind of fluid, I just breathe on the lens and use the condensation along with a microfiber cloth."------ Why you are so right---Here is my story ---

One day( 15 years ago ), after I buy the Good Old Lens from the  local Pawn shop, and The Lens is so dirty at the Glass surface ( Not any damages Glass), Just dirty---I bring this dirty Lens to ask my friend, The Local Camera shop owner, and ask him  that, I want to buy the Top level/ high cost  of Lens cleaning Fluid---Because of I do not want the cheap fluid to damage the Coated Lens.  Yes, My friend go to the shelf , and bring one small spray bottle and  said, Here is the second low level of the high price of cleanning fluid = $ 15 Us Dollars-----But I tell my friend that I only want the top / the best quality only---Not the Second one-----He take my Lens, and Do the thing that you tell us to do "Just Breath on the Lens and  Use Microfiber cloth clean the Lens both top and the bottom----Yes, After that, He tell me with the smiling face , Surapon, Please pay me 20 Us Dollars for Top level of Lens cleaning----I just Laugh , and tell him that---Are you kidding Me----Ha, Ha, Ha---He tell me streight face " Surapon, I work as PROFESSIONAL Photographer for 40 years, And Own this Camera Shop for 20 years= My Breath are absorb the knowledge of the Photography that most of the Photographers know----Same as we go to the Doctor Clinic, And The Old Doctor come to touch  our body and talk to us, and Charge us $ 300 US, Dollar, and let us go home---and He tell us that , Our Illness  will be Better and Gone, After We Drink Prune Juice and Go to have brown movement in the Toilet.

Ha, Ha, Ha.
That the Real story.
Have a great Sunday.
Surapon
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 03:53:49 PM by surapon »

jrista

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2014, 03:54:43 PM »
Seriously, it's just not that big of a deal.  If I shot thousand dollar pictures for million dollar clients in an expensive studio I would be more fastidious I guess but when you're outdoors in dust, dirt, sweat, etc then what's the point?

I guess I think of it exactly the opposite. If your shooting thousand dollar pictures for million dollar clients in an expensive, CLEAN studio, you probably don't have all that much dust and grime to worry about in the first place.

Out in the field, where there is dust, dirt, sweat, and other crap, you have to be that much more careful to avoid scratching your lens when you clean it. I wouldn't ever even remotely dream of using a napkin to clean my lens...those things are incredibly rough with nasty scratchy fibers. Just because you get dust on your lens more often doesn't mean you should trash your lens. As much as there are demonstrations on the net that show how you can still use a scratched up or even cracked lens, those defects DO impact image quality.

Just because your studio is the big, bad, dirty outdoors world doesn't mean you should not be diligent about keeping your gear clean and in pristine condition. If for no other reason than to preserve resale value.

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2014, 03:54:43 PM »

RustyTheGeek

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #13 on: May 04, 2014, 03:54:58 PM »
Love it, surapon!   ;D
Yes, but what would  surapon  say ??  :D

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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2014, 04:08:46 PM »
Seriously, it's just not that big of a deal.  If I shot thousand dollar pictures for million dollar clients in an expensive studio I would be more fastidious I guess but when you're outdoors in dust, dirt, sweat, etc then what's the point?

I guess I think of it exactly the opposite. If your shooting thousand dollar pictures for million dollar clients in an expensive, CLEAN studio, you probably don't have all that much dust and grime to worry about in the first place.

Out in the field, where there is dust, dirt, sweat, and other crap, you have to be that much more careful to avoid scratching your lens when you clean it. I wouldn't ever even remotely dream of using a napkin to clean my lens...those things are incredibly rough with nasty scratchy fibers. Just because you get dust on your lens more often doesn't mean you should trash your lens. As much as there are demonstrations on the net that show how you can still use a scratched up or even cracked lens, those defects DO impact image quality.

Just because your studio is the big, bad, dirty outdoors world doesn't mean you should not be diligent about keeping your gear clean and in pristine condition. If for no other reason than to preserve resale value.

No offense intended.  I am a pretty big perfectionist in most things (and it can be exhausting at times).  In all honesty, I did the whole 'lens cleaning system' way back when and eventually just gave up with all the expense, wasted time/effort, etc and dropped my standards to a more common sense approach.  After that, for several years, I have never had a scratch or any other damage due to using commonplace items for light cleaning.  I'm not saying I throw caution to the wind, I am still careful with how I clean my lenses.  When I'm home, I use a proper lens cloth, etc.  I rarely used any kind of fluid or chemical because I don't want to damage the lens coatings.  When I'm in the field, I use a lens cloth if I have it but otherwise, I just don't worry.  I do the best I can with what is available and I've never had a problem.  And I haven't used lens tissues since the early '80's!

If I ever do happen to get a scratch for whatever reason, I'll simply change the filter and keep on living.
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Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2014, 04:08:46 PM »