I just got one of these for the first time, a lot of threads on here recommend them and they seem like a great idea. Bought a Nikon one from amazon for $8 and while I really like the brush it seems like the cleaner tool isn't really working.

I have a brand new lens that I used for a few days and after wiping off the dust I wanted to remove a little spec of water that had dried on it. When I use the cleaning tip end it didn't really do anything, so I fogged it up by breathing on the lens, still not much result but better. It seems like I was just using a micro fiber cloth without any cleaning solution. I tried breathing on it again and accidentally touched it with my lip (hehe) so now I had a larger mark to remove.

I kept using the cleaning pen, putting it into the cap and twisting to get the cleaning compound, and in the end I feel like it required way to much rubbing to get clean. And still when I look at in under a light at the right angle there are still spots where it seems the smudges were thinned out and wiped around until you couldn't see them anymore.

I also tried it some on my camera's LCD screen that had some big oily fingerprints and it was definitely just moving and spreading the prints around.

Should I be thrilled by this pen and see it remove fingerprints fairly effortlessly?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You need to show what 'these' are (I think you forgot to put in a link?) Also, any photos of what your doing would also help \$\endgroup\$
    – NULLZ
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 23:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sounds like it is working as designed. It isn't an end all solution for lens cleaning, just a start. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented May 30, 2013 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't really take a picture of them, it's really minor but seemed like much more work that I expected to even get it to that point. If you had to clean a dried water droplet off a lens, would you want more than just the dry cleaning pen? \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 31, 2013 at 0:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trying_hal9000 i always just use microfiber cloth and keep buffing it till any residue is unnoticeable, how about a link to the amazon page you bought it from?? \$\endgroup\$
    – NULLZ
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 0:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't breath on the lenses!! \$\endgroup\$
    – roetnig
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 10:30

2 Answers 2


The lens cleaning pen isn't a single "you only need this" solution. Lens cleaning should ideally be handled in multiple steps:

  1. No-contact cleaning with a blower; I like Giottos rocket blowers.
  2. Minimal pressure, light contact cleaning, such as the brush in the lens pen.
  3. Dry contact cleaning, such as the lens pen.
  4. Wet cleaning solutions, such as methyl alcohol.

These are in an important order: they start with being able to clean the lightest problem (dust, hair) and escalate to the toughest problems (liquid spots). The corollary is that they are in an important order: the potential to be least damaging and escalate to the potential to be most damaging. (Using your lens pen or a wet cleaning solution to scrub sand off, for example, will likely damage the lens, but a blower will likely remove sand with no problem.)

If you've got a water spot, I would try the lens pen. Sometimes they come off pretty easily. But if they don't come off, you need to look for a wet cleaning solution.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I found these Pec photo wipes but they appear to be dry, can you recommend a wet solution? bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/… \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 31, 2013 at 1:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ It looks like PEC-12 is the current version of the PEC-10 I use, though I see that PEC-12 is not recommended for lens cleaning. Methyl alcohol is the safe and effective solution. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 31, 2013 at 1:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trying_hal9000 - There is really nothing better than ROR for de-spooging a lens. You'd want to get rid of dust and other easily-liftable crud first (a lens pen or other traditional quickie cleaner will do). It's not being aggressively marketed as a lens cleaner anymore (since there's more money in selling it as a screen cleaner), but it's still available at major photo retailers and will still get your coatings looking new again. \$\endgroup\$
    – user2719
    Commented May 31, 2013 at 1:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ @trying_hal9000 after trying different solutions and doing some research I ultimately ended up using pure isopropyl alcohol and microfiber cloth for cleaning. It's the easiest, cheapest and the most effective way. If the lens is too dirty for isopropyl alcohol, use ethanol. And before you ask: yes, it's safe to use both isopropyl and ethyl alcohol on pretty much all lenses except for the oldest coated ones as early coatings were quite fragile and could often be stripped off even without any solvent. \$\endgroup\$
    – lightproof
    Commented Jul 10, 2017 at 22:25

I've used a few of them. My experience is that they work better than nothing for removing smudges left by fingerprints, but after just a few uses they start leaving more smudges than they clean.

I still carry a fresh one in my bag for field use if I get a nasty skin oil smudge on the front of a lens and need to clean it quickly. But I don't use it as part of a regular cleaning routine. I do use the retractable brush on the other end, as it is getting hard to find lens brushes with caps/covers.

As others have said, before you use any contact method of cleaning blow and brush first to remove the easy stuff. Then use the contact method such as a lens pen or wet cleaner.

My normal cleaning regimen is:

I only go as far down the list as is necessary to clean what needs to be removed from the surface of the lens.


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