LensPen: is it really a necessity?

The first problem I have with LensPen is there is no alternative I’m know of that would deal with the problem of fingerprints or other sticky dirt so well. And as with any other product, LensPen is not the ultimate answer to all challenges out there. But surely for most.

Which one should I buy?

First of all, why so many? LensPen, FilterKlear, DigiKlear, MicroPro, MiniPro… When I first showed my LensPen set to a friend of mine, as much passionate about photography and gadgets as myself, he asked: “Why can’t I just use one?” Shortly after, my girlfriend asked me exactly the same question. And this is a fairly justified doubt to have. Most people would probably take the regular LensPen, assuming it is an all-purpose solution, while the other variants are better in specific applications. Wrong! Each of these products are different, and that difference has real impact on the cleaning results and… Your wallet.

Various cleaning tip shapes

Tips come in two types of various sizes: concave (for lenses) and flat (for filters, displays etc.). Also, they are shaped differently depending on the application: round, square or rounded triangle. The reason why you should use the right tip for each cleaned surface type is that it must adhere perfectly. Otherwise, you will need to repeat cleaning process several times and eventually the tip will be worn-out only partially.

Is it safe for filters?

The question arises when it comes to cleaning filters with FilterKlear. The old packaging used to say „do not use on wet or plastic surfaces”, while the new one comes with a bit worrying warning “do not use on wet or plastic surfaces or polarizing filters”. I started wondering what could be the reason behind putting this additional notice on the packaging, and since I wasn’t able to find a good answer on the Web, I asked LensPen directly. Here is the answer:

The FilterKlear will not affect antireflection coatings and cannot damage a filter. However, if the surface of the filter is not perfectly smooth (polarizing coatings often have a “tacky” feel) this will trap some of the ultrafine carbon compound onto the filter.

The coatings on some polarized filters interfere with the cleaning ability of the carbon compound so we do not recommend using LensPen products on polarized glass. If the polarizing layer is between two layers of non-polarizing glass then it should not be an issue.

Is it safe for sensors?

I’m a bit skeptical about using SensorKlear. First of all, the probability of leaving fingerprints on a sensor can be reduced to none, unless it is done on purpose. Secondly, the pen leaves residues of carbon dust, so introducing dust inside the camera body while trying to get rid of it at the same time… Not sure about that. And finally, I’m afraid of the effect carbon may have on the electronic components. Since it is usually the big particles that end up sticking to the sensor, I would prefer to use the combination of a blower and a soft brush, and in any other case: pay for a professional service. So, personally, even though I enjoy LensPen products a lot and I believe they are doing a great job in general, I’m not likely to experiment with my own gear. Perhaps one day, out of desperation, I’m going to test it. And I will let you know if I cried afterwards.

Summary

I’m afraid it is exactly as LensPen’s advertising slogan says: their products have become a necessity. Save yourself time and mental health, and get at least a LensPenFilterKlear and a MicroPro (which is great for viewfinders, by the way). As for the rest of LensPen products, I would be happy to hear about your experiences!