Since a week or so, I have severe diagonal stripes around light-sources in my night-time photographs on my Canon Powershot A650. In the past, I had some (I guess due to Fraunhofer diffraction, see below), but not nearly as severe as now. It started when I tried to clean my lens, because there was some droplet on it. Did I irrevocably damage it?

Severe diagonal stripes

(The green stuff is Aurora Borealis, photograph taken from my bedroom window)

Related questions, but I think it's still different:

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Jealous that you got to see the northern lights from your bedroom! \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Jan 31, 2012 at 3:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ditto to the previous comment, but also wanted to ask if you are taking this shot through your bedroom window could it be the glass of the window causing these rather than the cleaning of your lens? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mike
    Feb 1, 2012 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


Looks like flare caused by some kind of oily residue on the lens. I wouldn't say you have permanently damaged it, although that may be a remote possibility if you scratched it or maybe etched away any of the multicoating.

I would find some photographic lens cleaning solution and a nice microfiber cloth, a soft camel hair brush or a LensPen, and try to clean it better. Use the brush to dust off any particulate first. You don't want any particulate of any kind on the lens before cleaning it, just in case any of it is harder than the lens and capable of scratching it. Use the microfiber cloth and cleaning solution to clean the lens and hopefully get rid of any residue that may be on it.

On photographic lenses, you might be amazed at how even the oil from a fingerprint can affect flare, and how well that same finger oil will stick to the lens like glue. You can only really get rid of it with at the very least a microfiber cloth or tissue...and when that doesn't work, an appropriate solvent that won't damage the lens.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ +1. Any eyeglasses wearer will be able to tell you that it's just a smear; we spend approximately 20% of our lives looking at the world through that "filter". Next up after an "approved" cleaner, in this order: isopropyl alcohol (good for tarry substances), and if that doesn't work, diluted ammonia (better for fats -- the "original" flavour of Windex is essentially just that). Once the smear is gone, a quick rinsing clean with an "official" lens cleaner will get rid of the residue (and the inevitable rainbow in the lens coating). \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Jan 31, 2012 at 4:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah, thanks Stan! I probably should have mentioned isopropyl and diluted ammonia as acceptable "safe" solvents. I personally walk around with a nice clean microfiber cloth in my pocket at all times...I can't STAND anything on my glasses, especially fingerprints. One of these days, I'm just going to go for it and move to contacts, and end the smear problem once and for all. (Assuming I ever find the time to stop being lazy.) ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Jan 31, 2012 at 5:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll check this out! \$\endgroup\$
    – gerrit
    Jan 31, 2012 at 8:21

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