DSLR lenses are a serious investment for both professional and amateur photographers. Quality lenses can cost a considerable sum of money, and even the cost of inexpensive lenses add up when you have several in your camera bag. Taking good care of your lenses will help you to keep them functioning well and prevent damage.
Here are 10 tips related to the storing, handling, and cleaning of your lenses.
1. Store Them Carefully When You’re Not Using Them
Each lenses will come with two caps, one for the front and one for the back. You won’t need the back cap when the lens is attached to your camera body, but any lens that is not attached should be covered by both the front and back caps to keep dust and particles out. In addition to the caps, they should also be stored carefully in a place that will protect them from the elements.
2. Find a Storage Location with Low Humidity and Moderate Temperatures
Too much moisture in the air can damage the lenses or lead to the growth of mildew or fungus over time. Avoid storing your camera and lenses, even if they are protected by caps and other storage gear, in any room that typically has high humidity. Also, extreme temperatures can be hard on equipment, so it is best to avoid storage places like attics and basements where the temperature can reach extremes in summer and winter.
3. Use a Camera Bag or Case When Traveling
Whenever you are traveling or transporting your camera and lenses you should be using a quality bag or case. The specific type of storage that you’ll prefer will likely depend on your specific needs and how you will be using the equipment. Ideally, the bag or case you use should have separate partitions to keep your lenses protected and avoid banging against each other during transportation.
4. Consider Using a UV Filter
Lens filters can serve a number of different purposes and there are of course many different types of filters available. UV rays used to cause problems with film, which made UV filters very useful, but most modern DSLRs do not encounter the same issues with UV light. Today, most DSLR users that attach UV filters to their lenses do so to help protect the lens. The idea is that it’s preferable to damage a filter rather than a more expensive lens if it falls or gets scratched.
However, not everyone agrees with this. The downside is that UV filters can reduce the quality of your photos, and the level of protection they will actually provide is debatable. You’ll need to consider the pros and cons and decide if you’d like to use a UV filter. If protecting your lens is your primary concern, they may offer some benefit. If maximum image quality is your primary concern, consider doing without the UV filter.
5. Use a Blower to Remove Excess Dust
Blowers can be helpful for removing dust and particles from the lens before wiping it down to remove smudges and more pesky dust.
6. Use a Microfiber Cloth
When cleaning your lens you should be using a cloth made specifically for this purpose. Soft, quality microfiber clothes are inexpensive and they often come with blowers and several other items that I’ll mention in just a minute if you are purchasing a full camera cleaning kit. Don’t use something like your t-shirt, a tissue (unless it is specifically a lens tissue), or another type of cloth to wipe your lens as it may result in lint or scratches.
7. Use Lens Cleaning Fluid
At times simply using a blower and a dry microfiber cloth may not be enough. You can add a few drops or a spray of lens cleaning fluid to a microfiber cloth. Wipe the lens in a circular motion, and don’t overdo it with the fluid.
8. Lens Pen
A lens pen can also be a handy addition to your camera cleaning kit. On one end it has a soft bristle brush to wipe away loose dust, and the other end is a felt-like tip for cleaning the lens. You can get a lens pen as part of some cleaning kits, or it can be purchased on its own for less than $10.
9. Take Care When Changing the Lens
When you change the lens you are at least temporarily exposing your camera to the possibility of incoming dust or dirt. Preferably you should point the camera and lens downward when changing the lens to keep the dust out. Also, it’s best to change the lens indoors, or at least somewhere that is out of the wind and away from any visible dust or particles in the air.
10. Let Your Lens Adjust to Temperature Changes
Temperature changes can cause problems like condensation. For example, during warm summer months if you are taking your camera out of your nice air-conditioned house and out in a hot sunny day, chances are you will experience some problems with condensation. Even having the camera in an air-conditioned car and then going out into extreme heat will often lead to condensation. The good news is that this will likely resolve itself simply with time. Once the lens has been exposed to the temperature for a few minutes the condensation with start to disappear. You may need to have some cleaning fluid and a microfiber cloth. When possible, plan ahead and give your camera and lens some time to adapt to the temperature before attempting any shots.