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Thread: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

  1. #1
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    Most of us carefully protect our lenses with a lens cap, and keep our lenses/filters spotless, but how much does it matter?

    Maybe after digesting the following, some opinions will change?

    Disclaimer: I do not endorse smashing the front element.

    http://kurtmunger.com/dirty_lens_articleid35.html

    Glenn

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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    It does depend on how dirty you let the lens get and how much you shoot into the sun IMO. A little dirt never hurt anybody

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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    All depends where the dirt is, how transparent it is, and how many small bits there are. Mirror lenses have a great big thing in the middle of the lens, but still produce images. But too much dirt will reduce light through the lens. Grease and transparent dirt will reduce resolution, as will many little buts which can add extra interference patters into the optical mix.

    But then I was taught to look after my tools, an a lens in a very important part of the toolkit of photography.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    In the early 90ís I worked from time to time with a syndicated Sports Photographer.

    He carried a duffle bag with two bodies and four lenses Ė of which I can remember three:
    20~35/2.8L; 28~70/2.8L and 300/4L.
    The fourth was a 70 to 210, I think.

    He used NO lenses caps front or back; NO filters; just lens hoods.
    He kept that kit, banging loose in the duffle bag amongst his sandwiches, bananas and empty coke bottles. It didnít seem to affect the quality of his images.

    WW

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    Loose Canon's Avatar
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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    Funny you should mention that, Bill!

    I get the feeling that I am shooting through the bottom of a Coke bottle more times than not!

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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    Lens Rentals did a similar thing a while back, and got similar results ...

    http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2008...ment-scratches

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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    Thanks Glenn,
    You saved me a lot on buying lens pens.

    I will still use filters on my lenses, don't want any of them looking like that.

  8. #8
    DanK's Avatar
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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    This is comforting. I baby my equipment but recently found that I had somehow slightly scratched the front element of my wonderful 70-200 f/4 IS. What I learned decades ago was to worry about the back element, not the front. This does confirm that. I can stop worrying about a new element for that lens.

    I had an experience similar to Bill's. A year or two ago, a pro was brought in by my school. She had a bag full of L lenses, and not a single one had a cap, front or back.

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    RustBeltRaw's Avatar
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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    I clean my lenses rather often, and always use front and rear caps. But I was a race mechanic for a while, so obsessive preparation and care for equipment is simply the way I'm wired. Necessary? No. But it does make me feel better-prepared.

  10. #10
    Mark von Kanel's Avatar
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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    MMMM wouldnt want to lend my equipment to some of you guys

    Being careful about whether your equipment is well maintained or not is an indication of a personal attitude in general and if your not keeping your lens clean than do you have the same attitude to the rest of your equipment.

    So is keeping my lens clean important to me? YES it is but not necessarily because i think the images will be better but because if i look after my equipment it will last longer likely perform more reliably and have better residual values.
    Last edited by Mark von Kanel; 22nd March 2013 at 04:44 PM.

  11. #11
    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    I keep mine clean too, but I guess the point is "don't sweat the small stuff".

    I have been reconsidering the use of a protective filter on my lenses - compared to the stuff the author put on the lens, the effects of a filter would seem to be pretty minimal in comparison. Using a hood will likely prevent any serious crap/scratching from happening.

    Spots on the sensor are a different matter and as Dan K noted, look after the back end of the system.

    I also agree with Mark about taking care of equipment. If the exterior of the camera/lens is banged up, what is the condition of the interior? Someone on FM asked what could cause his mirror to be out of alignment - my first thought was a bump to the camera.

    Good workmen don't abuse their tools. But a few spots on the front of the lens shouldn't cause panic.

    Glenn

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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    Like Rex, I like to do a good cleaning as I prepare to go shoot- gets me in the mood and makes me feel like a matador. I did have to chuckle at myself recently when I realized I was assiduously cleaning my stuff to head to the zoo and shoot through 4 inches of plexi-glass that they clean with a water hose. People are funny.

  13. #13
    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    This reminds me of the how older lenses were valued in the pre-anti-reflective coating days, because the natural build up of contaminants on a lens acted as an anti-reflective coating resulting in better images. Nobody wanted to clean their lenses because performance would deteriorate.

    The only time I actually noticed contamination on a lens affecting an image was at the widest angle settings on my old video camera. With it's tiny 1/4-inch sensors (actually 3.2mm x 2.4mm; one for each colour channel and a beam splitter to break out the component RGB wavelengths), one could actually make out contamination on the lens surface under certain lighting conditions.

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    Black Pearl's Avatar
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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    I'm rough to the point of careless with my kit so the lenses are usually pretty dirty. If its sunny (in the UK thats a big if by the way) I'll give the front a clean but more often than not there's muck there somewhere.

    Thats said there is a certain pleasure in sitting down on a Sunday afternoon with a glass of something full bodied and giving the whole lot a proper good going over.

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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by RustBeltRaw View Post
    I clean my lenses rather often, and always use front and rear caps. But I was a race mechanic for a while, so obsessive preparation and care for equipment is simply the way I'm wired. Necessary? No. But it does make me feel better-prepared.
    I think this approach also gives us the opportunity to spot other little "gotchas" before they bite us in the rear.

  16. #16

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    Re: Are YOU worried about dirty lenses?

    I once dropped a big blob of ice cream on my lens (or more strictly speaking on the neutral filter in front of it), and didn't notice until I got home. The effect on the photo was negligible (slight darkening of part of the image - no significant blurring) and easily cured by a bit of selective brightness adjustment !

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