As a photographer, nothing is more frustrating than taking pictures using a dirty camera lens. If you have already cleaned the exterior surface and still get blurry photos, we know your pain. We recommend taking a look inside where dust may be stuck.
To clean inside a camera lens, you must first remove external mounts. Detach the front lens and disassemble it. Then, use a blower to eliminate dust and other particles.
You can also use a brush and lens cleaning solution to remove debris inside the camera lens. This article will walk you through the steps of cleaning inside camera lenses. But first, we will cover why lenses get dirty and how to check if they need deep cleaning.
Why Do Lenses Get Dust?
Lenses get dusty for many reasons.
One of the most obvious reasons is when you try to change a lens. Detaching it from the camera body and inserting a new lens allow dust to enter. Work as fast as possible when changing lenses to minimize particles entering the glass.
Additionally, dust particles can accumulate in the lens if you let it sit in a dusty environment. Store the camera lenses in a dust-free area and use their front cap for extra protection.
Dust can even enter the lens if you zoom in and out. Internal lens elements move around while zooming. These create spaces where dust can settle inside. They also cause a vacuum effect that pulls in the air inside. And that air usually carries dust with them.
How to Check if Your Camera Lenses Need Deep Cleaning?
It can be challenging to check if your camera lenses need a thorough cleaning inside. This is due to inaccessible internal lens components.
Fortunately, there are several ways to determine if a lens requires deep cleaning.
First, take a photo of a white background or a clear blue sky using a smaller aperture (higher f-stop). Review the photos on the LCD of the camera or the computer screen. Feel free to zoom in to check for any dark spots or irregular shapes in the photo. These indicate the presence of dust inside the lens and the need to clean your camera lens.
You must also consider image contrast, sharpness, and overall image quality. If you notice a consistent decrease in these elements, the dust has probably entered your camera lens.
Additionally, look for unusual patterns or reflections in the picture, especially when shooting against bright light sources. These weird flares and ghosting are telltale signs of a dusty camera lens.
As a last resort, you can also perform a flashlight test. Detach the lens from the camera body. Set it to the largest aperture. Next, put the flashlight behind the lens and turn it on to illuminate the internal elements. Then, check every angle to see where the dust particles accumulate. Avoid exposing the lens to direct sunlight because it can damage sensitive glass.
What Tools Do I Need to Clean Inside a Camera Lens?
Below are the tools typically required for cleaning inside a camera lens.
You probably only need one to clean small dust particles. But if you are dealing with stubborn dirt, consider using a combination of these cleaning tools.
- Microfiber cloth
- Lens brush or any brush with soft bristles
- Dust blower
- Lens cleaning tissues
- Lens cleaning fluid
- Cleaning kit pouch
- Screwdriver set
You might also want to wear gloves to prevent leaving fingerprints on the camera lens. Doing so can even keep your hands clean.
How to Clean Inside Camera Lens? 7 Steps to Follow
This detailed guide walks you through the steps of cleaning inside a camera lens.
1. Detach the Lens from the Camera
The first step is to disconnect the lens from the camera body. Remove the lens cap.
Turn off the camera and press the lens release button near the base of the lens mount. Next, grip the lens before rotating it counterclockwise.
Once you feel the lens unscrew from the camera body, lift it off the mount. Avoid twisting or using excessive force when removing the lens to prevent unnecessary damage.
You must also keep the dirty camera lens on a flat surface away from direct sunlight or windows where dust may enter. It is now ready for deep cleaning.
2. Disassemble the Camera Lens
Taking the camera lens apart is essential to clean interior glass elements.
Remove the protective ring located in front of the lens. Look for a gap where you can insert a flathead screwdriver. Use this tool to detach the protective ring.
If you see screws instead of an opening, get a small jeweler’s screwdriver. Loosen all the screws to lift off the mounting ring from the lens.
Next, you must detach the front element of the lens. Take note of its original position before removal. Mark the levels along a straight line to help you return the components to their proper placement.
You may need to unscrew more screws to remove the front element completely.
3. Blow Dust from Lens Inner Elements
After pulling out the front element, you can use a rocket blower to remove sensor dust inside the camera lens.
Gently squeeze the rocket blower to remove dust. Then, point it towards the inside of the lens before releasing air. Keep squeezing air until you do not see particles inside the camera lens.
When blowing dust, ensure the lens opening faces the floor to prevent particles from re-entering the camera sensor.
You must also avoid touching any internal components. Wear gloves to prevent leaving fingerprints and smudges on the glass.
4. Consider Brushing Stuck-on Particles
If you still notice stuck-on dirt on the inner lens, remove it with a lens brush.
Gently sweep the brush bristles across the lens surface. Use back-and-forth or circular motion.
You will want to start from the center of the glass. Then, work your way outward. Pay attention to the edges of the lens where dust usually accumulates.
5. Use a Lens Cleaning Solution
Dust is not the only thing that can get stuck inside camera lenses. Stubborn grime can also enter your lens body.
Blowing or brushing would not work on these particles. Instead, you must remove the grime with a lens cleaning solution.
Choose a fluid that does not use harsh chemicals. Avoid Windex, Glen20, and similar products because they can strip off the protective lens coating.
After picking the right lens cleaning solution, pour the liquid onto a clean microfiber cloth. You can also use a lens tissue.
Gently wipe the camera gear with a microfiber lens cloth or lens cleaning tissue. Move from side to side until you do not see any stubborn grime and fingerprints.
Allow the camera lens to dry completely.
6. Remove the Rear Lens Element if Necessary
If you have completed the steps above but still notice dirt, you may need to clean the rear lens element.
Loosen a few screws from the back of the lens. Again, take note of the positioning of the elements, so you can return them later.
Once you have access to these components, repeat the process above.
Start by blowing away the dust stuck inside.
Next, consider getting a brush to sweep off stubborn particles.
To remove oily residue or grime, use a microfiber cloth or lens tissue soaked in a cleaning solution.
After cleaning, you can return the screws and reassemble the lens.
7. Remember to Clean the Lens Barrel
The internal glass elements are not the only parts of the lens that require cleaning. You must also keep the lens body or exterior clean.
Use a rocket blower or soft-bristle brush to remove dust and other tiny particles stuck on the lens barrel. Pay special attention to the gap where the zoom regularly extends.
You can also wipe the exterior with a wet microfiber cloth. However, ensure the lens has weather sealing before using any lens cleaning fluid. This feature means that it can resist water and weather elements. The last thing you want is to damage the glass.
After cleaning the lens, attach the front and rear lens cap. Then, store it in a clean lens pouch or camera bag. Put the camera bag inside a cabinet instead of an open shelf.
Taking pictures with a dirty camera lens can be frustrating because it affects image quality. Sometimes, cleaning the exterior of the lens is enough. But there are instances when you also need to look inside for stuck-on dirt.
To thoroughly clean your camera lens, you must first disassemble it. Loosen the screws to remove the protective ring in front of the lens glass. Then, use a blower to eliminate dust. You can also consider a brush or a lens cleaning solution for more stubborn grime.
Do you have more questions about cleaning a camera lens? Feel free to send your queries to our contact page!