26 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Lens”

  1. Can I PLEASE be the one to spray you with water next time? :)

    Oh, and I hope you got some sponsorship money from Fruit of the Loom!

    Seriously, a piece of soft chamois is good for wet lenses. And since there should be a uv filter on the lens, scratching should not be a real concern.

  2. PETE

    i do not use filters of any kind over any lens for any reason….to my way of thinking a filter is a relatively poor piece of glass on top of a good piece of glass! in reality two more glass surfaces to keep clean….

    and besides in 40 years of banging cameras around in every imaginable circumstance, i so far have not had one scratch on my lens …

    a filter on a lens is like a plastic cover on your nice sofa!!!!

    lens caps are totally useless as well…get in the way of taking a picture!! besides those things floating around in the bottom of your camera bag might just scratch your lens indeed….


    no…that backpack is an Osprey…a favorite but not my design…..the Filson bag i will show you when i get to Dubai in a few days….

    cheers david

  3. “a filter on a lens is like a plastic cover on your nice sofa!!!!”
    Hear Here! Really, what is the point of filters or covering your furniture?!
    Hey David, you seem to be less worried about getting your equipment wet… You questioned my sanity when I tried to snap a shot of you in the rain during one of your workshops… ;) hope you’ve been well

  4. “a filter on a lens is like a plastic cover on your nice sofa!!!!”


    The reason there are so many UV and skylight filters on cameras is that camera salesmen push them because there is a huge mark-up on them. The margin on cameras is tiny. If a salesman will try to sell you a filter, extended warrenty, bag, etc, that is where the profit is. (I have friends in the photo gear business)

    Most amateurs spend a lot of time unneccesarily cleaning and polishing lenses. Many older lenses have “cleaning marks” on the lenses, as a result. Older lenses do scratch a lot easier than newer ones. Modern optical glass seems to be harder, and certainly the coatings are. I once saw a salesman at a Pentax booth in a trade show butt out a cigarette on a 35mm wide angle lens for a 645 camera. He then proceeded to wipe the lens with a cloth to show how protective the coating was. Not recommended.

    I’ve been making photographs for 50 years, and have yet to scratch a lens.

    Like David, most photographers I know including me wouldn’t dream of screwing a uv filter on their lenses, and clean them with their shirt-tails.


    sure, why not….

    i think this new series of PhotoTips will be some intended humour stuff like this but also interviews with the best in our biz….and some totally surprise features….

    cheers david

  6. The lens filter argument has been going around for a LONG time. Have heard both arguments from all types of professional photographers.

    David says: ” in 40 years of banging cameras around in every imaginable circumstance, i so far have not had one scratch on my lens …”

    Well at least you are keeping down the curve.

    A while back, I was talking to a friend of mine that works for a major camera dealer in the U.S. and he said that probably 50% of the lenses, that they get when either buying used equipment or taking them in on trade, have some type of nick or scratch on the glass. He said it was the primary thing that brought down their value.

    Since I have seen no evidence that suggests that a high quality UV filter (Hoya which are coated and eliminate ghosting) will affect image quality, I will stay protected.

    And on at least two occasions that I can remember, a lens of mine took a direct hit into the glass. Filter cracked, lens was fine.

    I think this will always be a case of to each their own.

  7. Pingback: Photographer David Alan Harvey Shows You How to Clean Your Lens in the Rain - The Phoblographer

  8. Hood – yes
    Filter – no (some minor exceptions)
    Lens cap – most likely lost. Especially those rubber ones that fit over the lens hood.


    Snowed in here in the central part of the bluegrass of Kentucky….

  9. Never use lens caps on my cameras but I usually always have a lens hood attached. Same with lens filters, never tried them and I’m not about to start now either. Now I’ve never managed to sell one of my used cameras, they’re just too worn and in fact often too battered. But I’ve successfully sold quite a few of my used lens; seems to me lens glass is rather tough. I’ve only once suffered a scratched lens, caused by a flying spark from a catherine wheel. Oh and I’m glad to see I’m not the only one wiping my lens with my shirt.

  10. Next tip, tip #4, will be: How to dry your camera…

    1. …in the microwave;
    2. …with a hairdryer;
    3. …with a hot hot Rio sun in Copacabana surrounded by Roberta and Renata. :P

    Have a nice week. Patricio

  11. For what it is worth, I just made two identical photos. One with filter, one without. Brought into lightroom blown up 100%… could discern no difference.

    Yes, scientifically, that’s about as small a sample size as you can get, but there it is.


  12. Mike Kircher…

    Oh I’m sure with good lighting everything will look the same. But what about tricky lighting and shooting into the sun?

  13. PAUL.

    No question. Glass filters do tend to suffer flare in certain situations. I actually usually don’t use one. When I do it’s mostly due to conditions. Salty air, sand or dirt blowing ( this happens quite a lot on job sites). I’ve not tested low light situations, like a pub or candle light. I was just curious if I could actually tell the difference myself.

  14. Boxers or Briefs. Have fun in Dubai David. I’m headed to the desert too (Southwest). Don’t get sand in your lens. ~ Paul O.

  15. My lens cloth is made of silk from silkworms raised on the leaves of white mulberry trees that were themselves raised in a remote, pristine forest that legend holds is magical and is fed by pure spring mineral water known for its healing properties. Then the fine threads are spun by virgin hands in remote and misty mountains and then transported by camel train along the old silk road. Sure, I pay a lot for that, but it definitely makes my photographs better.

  16. dear Mr. Dave,
    like you… i never using filters :)
    and now i’m curious wid the bag…

  17. PETE

    for me, bah humbug on lens shades, filters, and padding to protect equipment in the bag…all this “protection” is basically useless if you are really out shooting….yet to each his own of course…

    cheers, david

  18. ha ha… your new videos are great and funny!!. And useful at the same time!

    I always have a UV filter to protect the lens, but I have to reconsider.. You are right is a bad piece of glass over o good one…

    Spanish subtitles in the videos…? ;-)


  19. I gave up on filters long ago, mostly because they went bad every time I used them. It just got too damned expensive, I discovered a single cleaning would degrade a filter but a lens can be cleaned over and over. I never came to trust flannel much, but find that a clean cotton t-shirt works about as good as anything. I tend to break one or two lenses every year and am forever sending them into Canon for repair or I just discard them and get another. I start out with lens caps but they keep disappearing. I do keep lens hoods on and they have saved the front element of my lenses from taking direct blows against hard objects many times.

    I had earlier saw this tip on Instagram where, due to its abbreviated length, I had interpreted it as being a joke only. Having seen it there, I was not going to look at it here, but the large number of comments here caused me to wonder. I’m glad I checked. So much more here, both in humor and practicality, than in the Instagram.

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