Here is an old habit that's hard to break. Use your breath to clean and apply a small amount of moisture to your lens. You see it all the time. One clean whisk of moisture laden breath and the shirt tail comes out to polish the glass.

Someone once said you had a lesser chance of contacting something if you kissed your dog. Listen jerk, if you believe that you are really stooo-pid. Dog saliva can contain, fifty three variants of viruses and germs, some really dangerous. Kiss your cat, they only carry eleven strains of viruses and germs. I learned this on Animal Planet.

Why kiss your lens? Perfect breath doesn't exist and the problem is that breath is germ laden. For years manufacturers used a base called Agar-agar to cement or hold glass components in place. It's also that pale yellow stuff in Petri Dishes used in labs to grow things.  So let’s try an experiment. You get a Petri dish and breathe on it.  Place in a nice dark place like a camera bag and then throw it in the trunk of your car.  Wait a week...  then call Ripley to get rid of the Alien.

At least once a month in the store someone came in with a camera and lens that had Penicillin type growths.  We knew what it was.  Yes, lenses are sealed better these days but they cost more and have multiple lens components held together guessed it agar-agar. In the old days a 200 dollar Vivitar One was decent piece of glass but you don't know how many went south and just too expensive to fix. They were not the best sealed glass made. Tamron was also susceptible especially here in Tampa, Florida, aka the "Arid Proving Grounds".

Lens Filter Removal ( Stuck filter)

So you cranked that filter on your lens on a hot ady and now it's cooled down and it wont't budge.  Be thankful for the local Sears or Home Depot… They have a gripper, a wrench with a rubber adjustable strap on it. 

That could loosen it but it can also loosen the retainer on the outer lens element if they have "bonded". Most likely, not unless you have purchased one of those "el cheapo guano filters".  The camera industry has a similar tool we use for this. 

I have a set, they are like plastic wrenches. Sears is cheaper and if it's in the store, you want to try before you buy it, right?  If that don't work....Get a lid remover or a piece of bicycle tire larger than the filter. Place on counter top or Formica surface. Hold lens with two hands and unscrew. The real problem is grip. The filter is too narrow to grasp so let friction do the work.

You might also try an ice cube on the metal ring, jut the ring not the lens.

If the glass pieces from the filter getting hit with a golf ball are all gone,  a pair of sharp (like NEW) diagonal pliers ( Dikes, jeweler size, don't need Klein electricians cutters)  and nip the plastic mount till it is soft enough in two/three places to bend in. It will clear the threads. You can cut it with a very fine saw, but slow, deliberate, preferably face down and WITH a strong vacuum going.  Saws make vibration, plastics get a little static cling and you don't want plastic dust in/on  your lens.


The best combo for cleaning contacts on the lens is ISOPROPYL Alcohol, not rubbing alcohol.  Much of this holds true for cleaning almost all camera components. Anything seems to get used for cleaning contacts. Rubbing alcohol is no good as it contains water and oil for application.

I have heard praise for Windex, erasers from pencils to contact cleaner. Some electrical contact cleaners may be too strong, some work but most are harsh and can affect plastic. Lenses that use agar-agar as the glue that holds elements together might also get effected. 

Windex leaves a residue from the blue dye and the ammonia or vinegar are no better. And one piece of that rubber from an eraser can spell the end for a perfectly good camera. It just has to get into the wrong place.

NOTE:  Erasers are good for cleaning pencil notes and rust off fishing lures, they have no business being around cameras. They are rubber with varying degrees of abrasives. If you must use an eraser, keep the vacuum going as you do it so none of the particles can contaminate what you are working on. This practice came from an old solution for cleaning battery terminals. One minute  particle can jam a mirror or ruin a sensor. I don't know who started that brain-fart but the rubber particles will ruin your camera. My God what were they thinking, sensors, motors, contacts.... idiots.

1- Isopropyl alcohol 
Suggested brand is LKG Ultra-Chem. I buy it at a good electronics store. Rubbing alcohol contains water and some brands contain a water soluble lubricant. That's NOT what you want. Isopropyl is used to clean and prep Solder joints, will not harm plastic and dries residue free. Again, NO RUBBING ALCOHOL, and don't drink it either.  See Amazon, search Isopropyl alcohol 99% to order. Most flammables are ground delivery only.

2-  Magnifying Glasses -
Good ones are from Donegan optical aka Opti-visor.  Otherwise go to Sams and get a four pack of readers at whatever you can read your IRS refund check at. (Very small print) 

3- Turtle Wax Black Chrome –
Was available at any auto supply store and it is incredible for restoring black rubber and Poly-vinyl's. Makes the black, black again and especially on those rubberized surfaces and fake leather. Use very sparingly.  Almost impossible to find a substitute but I am looking.

4-  An Assortment of Brushes -
Varying lengths and thickness. Some are soft, some stiffer or harder. Include toothbrushes and I use a two inch paintbrush of excellent quality statically charged to remove lint. The brushes go into a tupperware container so they do not get desk rot and contaminated.

5-  An Old White T-shirt –
It’s soft and make sure it’s washed lint free. Check with your wife.  She took your old favorite ones and uses them to clean the house with. She knows a good rag when she sees one.  She married you.

6-  Lintless absorbent paper and cotton rags -
That were made for industrial lint-free use. I found them at Sams in the car polish section or so. I have a ton of gun cleaning swabs in about every caliber I use that are great for this.

7- Bamboo Skewers - 
The sharp pointed little devils that the Pygmies coat with fallow and curare and bring down elephants. We use them as everything from non-electrical probes to removing glue from seals that we are replacing. Their advantage over dental picks... priceless...they don't scratch paint surfaces.  There are several other uses for them in cleaning. Most important to me is as a holder for the gun swatches rolled into a tip which are lint-free compared to lint-full "Q" tips.

8-  A Clean Work Area -
I really got tired of spaghetti sauce in my lenses so I stopped using the kitchen table and made a secure area for working on things. I call it a "work bench". Stainless rated NSF. Just don't put a battery pack down with exposed contacts on a stainless bench. So it has a soft rubber top so parts fall and stay there. It differs from my solder bench.

9-  Old Vacuum Cleaner- 
When I did do camera repairs, I had a vacuum we kept in the storage room to keep down the noise with a long PVC piped hose PULLING the air from my workbench. We used it when taking lenses and camera bodies apart.  

It produced very low pressure, just enough to catch dirt and lint. We made a filter trap from an AC house filter and could change filters. It also caught small parts. In the plastic hose line we made venting using a valve to allow changes in suction to lower the pressure just to keep a negative pressure on the lint and foreign matter. 

I made a much smaller unit here at my house and fits on an ORECK mini… that ORECK is one tough vacuum and anytime I have to move bowling balls I use it. Well, they did that on TV. Below is the home version of the Suck-o-matic.

10- Common Sense:  Once in a while I see someone mention lighter fluid used as a cleaner. I have no problem with the lighter fluid as long as you don't smoke while working on cameras and you use isopropyl alcohol to remove the lighter fluid remnants. The isopropyl doesn't stink as much as the lighter fluid and if you have allergies as I do, you appreciate that. 


Many professional techs (and I include myself) will tell you one of the most dangerous objects in a newbies hand is canned air. The kind you get it in office supply computer stores. They sell it right next to the vacuums for computers which actually is a better idea.  

From a repair mans stand point canned air is great. It provides us with many hours of repairs and that's how we make the big bucks and turn numbers.  Blow that dirt deeper into the camera so it can play again,  blow it up into the prism.  Chance that squirt from the propellant on the glass surfaces and coated surfaces.  De-mirror the mirror.  Add the temp shock the cooler propellant provides. All good viable procedures to ensure I and many other techs make a good living. Thank You.

Here is the answer from the Gadget Meister's Collection.   Now if you wish to keep your camera GEAR in good shape and clean here is an alternative.  It is a cheap to make device, and your wife can get involved. You'll need her to help you in the supermarket or Wal-mart to find a large Tupperware plastic container. Most men are lost in supermarkets and at home in Home Depot. That's why it's called HO-ME Depot.  Home Depot sells Rubbermaid but they are a little too big. 

This project truly sucks.... Takes a  hour to make and is idiot proof.  It will work on ALL your camera gear and replaces the danger with that canned air crap.  Build this once with cheap easy to find parts and it will last a lifetime.  It's under ten bucks and under an hour to build unless you are technically challenged.  By the way, if you are too challenged to build this you might consider a nursing home. You are legally dead but breathing.

Step 1-  BUY / STEAL from wife / take from Kitchen or Supermarket a Tupperware or Rubbermaid container, largest round one or oblong, just about twice as big or larger than the camera and the largest lenses you have.  Rubbermaid had heavy nice ones for 5 dollars at Publix. Cost $5.00

Step 2- Drill about a thousand holes 1/8 inch in the top removable surface, use a sharp bit and goes very fast. I grid mine about 3/16 inch apart. I had a piece of sheet metal grid from a heater that was a perfect template.

Step 3 - From Home Depot get an adapter end or any cheap end tool that fits your shop vac or home vacuum cleaner. Cut a round hole in the side of the Tupperware that fits this tool you just got.  Silicon it rivet it, glue it, weld it or get the kind that has a thread and flange. 

Whatever makes it permanent to the side.  Easiest way is a couple pieces of  PVC from the depot.  You can flange, or just a pass-thru with shoulders on both sides. In essence, attach it permanently to the box. This is your adapter and you just made a on-demand super powerful vacuum table unit.  Cost about $2.00 in PVC. Cost in the real world 400-500 dollars.

Step 4- Need to use it, plug in vacuum, attach to your box. Now there are obviously different power levels on vacuums, most have a bleed device on the nozzle to adjust the vacuum strength, if not go to plumbing end of Home depot and get an in-line PVC valve and that will bleed off too much vacuum. Just attach it to the other end of the box opposite the vacuum hose end. Or make it inline.  This allows varying degrees of pressure.  Cost about $ 3.00

Usage - Just hold the camera off and above the Tupperware with the vacuum on. Now when you work on that Nikon or Canon or anything that must be dust free you have a vacuum system that removes the dirt rather than imbeds it. 

We use good quality, camels hair brushes, that do not get used on anything else! I have several and they are kept in Ziplocs to be kept clean of any bench dirt.  The small baby syringe works great to dislodge dirt and Super Suck pulls the dirt away from the internals of the camera.  

Other benefits...if the camera or other parts you are working on get away from you they will fall on a plastic soft surface.  Loose screws are easier to find. You are not recirculating the air and avoiding damage to the mirrors and coatings...

 © copyright aljacobs Stardate 10-18-2012