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I have recently purchased a Hoya ND400 multi-coated filter and took it out for some shooting. I accidentally got a fingerprint on it and decided to clean it with my microfiber cloth. Unfortunately, the cloth only smudged it and eventually I had to use a sensor cleaning fluid and give the filter a good clean with both the cloth and some tissue. The filter is ok now but I noticed that it slightly changed colour, especially when I look at it at a sharp angle in daylight.

My question is: Did I damage the filter and the multi coating? I read that other people had the same problem with this filter. If I did damage it what is the appropriate way to clean a multi-coated filter like this.

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Can't speak to damage, but Hoya does post information on cleaning: hoyafilter.com/support/tips-techniques/how-to-clean-filters –  John Cavan Nov 27 '13 at 1:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Multi-coated filters are notoriously difficult to clean. The formulations of most lens cleaner fluids tend to smear on the materials coating the filter. Microfiber cloths are dangerous because they hold dust very well. While they won't deposit the dust already in the cloth on the filter, this can allow the dust trapped in the cloth to scratch the filter.

It doesn't sound like you have scratched the multi-coating of your filter yet, just smeared some cleaning fluid around on it. Here is what I do to clean multi coated filters:

  • Remove the filter from the lens.
  • Rinse under warm tap water. This should knock most of the loose dust off. By using warm water it will also help to break up body oils and other 'sticky' fluids a little.
  • Dry with a clean lens tissue.
  • Clean with Formula MC Lens cleaner. Put a few drops on a clean lens tissue or clean microfiber cloth and clean from the middle of the lens out in a circular motion. Repeat as needed until no residue is still visible on the lens.
  • Dry the filter with another clean lens tissue.

Just as with the front element of lenses, it takes a lot of dust or dirt before performance is affected because the light rays are highly dispersed for any particular point source of light as they pass through the front of the lens, so try to avoid obsessively cleaning your multi-coated filter or lens every time they get a few specks of dust on them. Note: Don't wash the lens under running water, but otherwise you can clean your multi-coated front lens element this way as well. Just knock the dust off with a quality air blower or lens brush first.

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Thanks a lot. You seen to know a lot about this. How do you clean your microfiber cloths when they gather too much dust? –  Greg Nov 28 '13 at 5:08
    
I don't clean them. I replace them in my camera bag and use them for other household tasks. A 'clean' microfiber cloth is one that hasn't gathered dust yet. Once the dust is in them you can't easily remove it. –  Michael Clark Nov 30 '13 at 22:25

The only way i've ever managed to clean them successfully is by washing them with hot water and a good detergent.

The detergent cuts through the grease and you don't need to use a cloth - just your fingers.

Then i run it under very hot water to heat up the glass and this helps it dry with no water marks.

Works every time.

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I LOVE this product. It will not damage coatings, I've been using these for years. Be sure to use the right one - there's some for filters and some for lenses. I don't honestly know the difference. The product just works, so I haven't really researched it a lot.

https://www.lenspen.com/

For major cleanings I do what's listed in Michael's answer with lens papers, but for in the field smudges, the lens pen is a life saver! I also use an air bulb for blowing lint off the lense.

http://www.adorama.com/GTRAB.html

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