Tag Archives: glass

How to Wet Clean Your Lens

Lens wipe
Creative Commons License photo credit: ant.photos

Just admit it… you haven’t cleaned your lenses in a while, have you? Let alone a good wet cleaning. I know, it’s easy to let it go and forget about it. So go do it now!!!

Here’s a little refresher course on wet cleaning your lens elements (and some product suggestions in case you don’t have the stuff already). Keeping your equipment clean is a important part of basic maintenance and it will make your gear last longer. Lenses are no exception, and it’s easy to forget about deep cleaning the front and rear elements because they usually appear to be quite clean at a glance. But if you haven’t given them a good wipe-down for a while, it’s more than likely that you’ve accumulated some dust and grime.

Here are the basic steps for wet cleaning your lens. If you’ve never done it before, make sure you’re comfortable with the process and you understand the risks involved. As for the products involved… we’re talking less than $40 and the only consumables are the cleaning solution and tissues which should last a year or more.

1. BLOW

Before you even think about touching your lens with any type of cloth, blow off all the big stuff that might scratch your glass. My favorite blower is the Rocket Blaster from Giottos — these things put out a great stream of air and I use mine for lens cleaning, sensor cleaning, film cleaning, and scaring the kids when they least expect it. If you don’t have one already, you can purchase a Giottos Rocket Blaster at Amazon.com for about $10.

2. BRUSH

Even if you blow off the lens, you’ll still have some particles hanging on for dear life. A lens brush will help pull off the rest of the “big stuff” before you hit the glass with a cloth. You can purchase a lens cleaning pen with brush on Amazon.com for about $8.

3. WET

Wet the wipe, not the lens! This is important! Don’t drop any kind of liquid straight onto your lens — it could cause damage to the inside parts. Instead, wet a lens tissue with a few drops of lens cleaner or alcohol (which is what lens cleaners are for the most part). You can purchase Eclipse Cleaning System Solution at Amazon.com for about $10 — this stuff is amazing, plus you can use it to clean your sensor.

4. WIPE

They make these special little wipes called lens tissues that are super soft, ultra clean, lint free, and intended for single use. This is exactly what they’re made for, and they’re cheap — so use them! You can purchase PEC-PAD Lint Free Wipes at Amazon.com for around $8 per 100 pack.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Just be careful when making physical contact with optical quality glass — this stuff is really smooth and it can be scratched with something as small as dust. Just don’t be careless. But at the same time, don’t be afraid to do this simple task on your own. When done correctly, you should have nothing to worry about. Here’s a pretty good instructional video I found that should boost your confidence.

And listen, there’s always more than one way to do the job — so don’t take this stuff as the Gospel. For you seasoned photographers out there, how do you clean your lenses?

7 Reasons To Love Prime Lenses

A prime lens is one that has a single focal length. A zoom lens is one that has a range of focal lengths. The each have their proper place in the camera bag and on the camera. But the prime has always been, and will continue to be, a favorite among seasoned photographers using interchangeable-lens cameras.

I picked up my first prime lens nearly a year ago (105mm f/2.8 macro), and over the course of the year I’ve grown to consider that lens as my favorite. In the last few months, I’ve hardly taken the lens off my camera body. But then I picked up another prime lens (50mm f/1.4) and I’m absolutely in love with these things. Here’s why:

2. LOWER COST

For the same quality, prime lenses cost less than zoom lenses. They contain fewer elements, less moving parts, and their design is simpler. For the same cost, you can pick up a half-decent zoom lens or you can pick up an outstanding prime lens.

3. FEWER LENS DISTORTIONS

Zooms are designed to work well at most focal lengths in their range, but the all display some type of lens distortion at some point — usually at the extremes. Primes, on the other hand, are designed to work great at a single focal length. The distortions have been minimized by design.

5. SHARPER IMAGES

Similar to the argument for lens distortions, primes have been optimized for sharpness and clarity while zooms must sacrifice these things in order to offer up the convenience of multiple focal lengths.

7. BETTER DOF CONTROL

Again, for the same price point, prime lenses are capable of a wider array of f-numbers. They’re faster, and they offer more options at the low end of the f-number scale.

11. NICER LOOKING BOKEH

Generally, as you lower your f-number your bokeh becomes more apparent. Primes are notorious for producing crazy bokeh on specular highlights when shot wide open. Primes will also generally have better and/or more aperture blades, thus giving you a better bokeh.

13. LOW LIGHT CAPABILITIES

If you’ve never shot with a f/1.4 (or faster) lens, you have no idea what you’re missing. Indoor shots — no flash, no problem. Concerts — fast lenses are a must.

17. THEY MAKE YOU THINK

I suppose my favorite thing about prime lenses is the fact that you have to use your head. Composition becomes a thinking game. You have to move your feet to get that shot you had in mind, so you really start to evaluate what’s important in the scene. Fast primes also make you think a little harder about your f-number. The DOF can be extremely shallow; sometimes too shallow to produce an effective shot. Not only that, but on bright sunny days, you actually can’t use the lens wide open without an ND filter because you’ll let in too much light and max out your shutter speed.

So if you don’t have a good prime lens, you’re really missing out. Zooms are fine, and they have their place, but a prime will open your eyes to a whole new level of photography.

February Challenge: Day 4 – Piña Refresco

Piña Refresco

WEEK 2 = YELLOW

Partially empty glass bottle of Jarritos pineapple soda sitting on a white tile counter. The image was "cross processed" to exaggerate the yellows and greens on the bottle. The partial vignette came from the off camera slave flash — no fake vignette here!

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

February Challenge: Day 3 – Shot Glass Mirror

Shot Glass Mirror

Glass FlowerLiquid Ice

WEEK 1 = CLEAR

So week 1 is over, and it was way too short. I was kind of having fun shooting clear stuff. At the end of each week, I’ll post the final photo along with the thumbnails from the previous days. And I’ll also remind you all to participate in the February Challenge if you aren’t already doing so.

This was a CLEAR shot glass partially full of CLEAR liquid posed on top of a mirror and lit with an off-camera slave flash. Funny thing about this photo — it was the first shot out of about 50. I guess I’m just that good. I could’ve saved myself about half an hour of messing around with flash angles and diffusers. Oh well, it’s good practice.

OK, so I kind of cheated on this one too. I actually took the photo on day 4 rather than day 3. Shame on me. But I came up with the idea on the 3rd… does that count for anything?

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.

February Challenge: Day 1 – Glass Flower

Glass Flower

WEEK 1 = CLEAR

The February Challenge is all about color – you pick a color each week and document those colors. So my first color will be my favorite color… clear. It’s a great color because it takes on the color from the things around it. So it’s every color and no color all at the same time!

Now I realize that many of you may think that clear is not a color, but ask yourself this… what color are your windows? What color are your glass dishes? What color is water (assuming it’s clean)? How about diamonds? My wife hates the fact that I insist clear be my favorite color, so this week is dedicated to her.

This particular image is an abstract of a CLEAR glass candy dish lid positioned on top of a purple DVD-R with an orange background (a shirt). The DVD served to reflect some nice rainbow colors that you can see in the refraction of the CLEAR glass.

So is anybody else joining in with the February Challenge?

To see the rest of my February Challenge photos, check the “Challenge” category here on the blog or visit my Flickr Set.