The lens is one of the most important components of any camera. It stands at the front line of the photographic process, focusing and rendering the captured light for film. Its condition will weigh on the ultimate quality of every photograph. The lens is fragile and is directly exposed to the outside world whenever it is in use. Proper care must be taken to keep the lens clean and in good working condition. These tips will help you care for and maintain your camera lenses.
One essential element of lens care is regular lens cleaning. Dirt, dust, and grime will inevitably accumulate on your lens, and it is important to remove these substitutes to preserve the integrity of your camera's image quality. Dust and other light pollutants like pollen can be quickly and easily removed from the lens with a microfiber cloth. It is important that you only use a cloth approved to clean camera lenses, as certain materials can damage the surface of your lens. Lightly stroke the lens from the center out. For more resilient dirt or mud, it is best to use an approved lens cleaning solution. Many other cleaners designed for glass can irreversibly damage the surface of your lens. Any cleaning will wear on the fine coating of protective oil present on many lenses. A filter can be used to keep the lens surface clean, extending the lifetime of both the coating and the lens itself.
Scratches are, unfortunately, impossible to repair without specialized training and equipment. As a camera owner, the best thing you can do for your lens is to prevent scratches in the first place. Whenever the lens is not in use, be sure that its cover is affixed and that it is securely stored. To protect a lens from scratches while it is in use, you can use a filter. There are a variety of filters which bear little to no effect on photos shot with standard film. Be sure that the filter is approved and of a good quality, as a poor one can itself scratch the lens.
Water can wreak havoc on the internal electrical components present in so many lenses manufactured today. It can also see into and over the smaller inner lenses, where it will dry and leave a deposit which will affect the performance of the lens. Be sure to keep your lens in a case when it is not in use, as even relatively minor temperature fluctuations can cause condensation to accumulate within the lens. It is also important to remember to use a rain hood if you plan to shoot in the rain. If your lens is exposed to water, you should wrap it in a highly absorbent cloth and rest it mount-down. Take the lens to a camera professional as soon as possible.