Dust? Water splashes? Finger prints? There are a number of things that make our camera gear a mess. In photography, the main job of any camera lens is to capture clear, crisp, and unobstructed image of the subjects in front of us. To do this, it is important to keep the exposed front and rear elements of the camera lens clean and clear.
Over the years, we’ve seen different tools showing up on the market for cleaning camera lenses, all with various shortcomings.
Air Blower: pushes away dust with small bursts of air pressure, but does nothing for finger prints or water specs.
Soft Brushes: pushes away dust with soft bristles, but smears finger prints and water specs.
Micro Fiber Cloths: Cleans up finger prints and water specs, but has a tendency to leave spear marks. Also, if larger pieces of dust are present, has the potential to scrape them across the lens, leaving hairline scratch marks.
And then one day, someone came along and decided to put two of these ideas together. What if there is a small brush on one side of a stick, and a small micro fiber pad on the other? And thus, the original LensPen was born! The basic concept of this product is to use the brush side first to remove any dirt or dust particles anywhere on the lens element, and then use the pad on the opposite side to clean up any liquid residue such as finger prints or water specs.
The LensPen, however, was not without its own shortcomings as well. While being a superior cleaning product to most of the other available options, there were a few things wrong with it. The cap is a pop-off cap, one that if bumped the wrong way would simply fall off. It became a very common occurrence to open a camera bag, and see a LensPen without its cap on anymore. The other issue is that the instructions say to twist the cap onto the pen to apply the cleaning chemical residue from inside of the cap and onto the cleaning tip. Many became confused as to how much to twist, from a small quarter or half turn twist of the cap, to full 360 degree rotations over and over again.
The makers of the LensPen have taken this information, and produced a brand new evolution of their product, the LensPen NLP-1. Pictured below are the original LensPen (top) and the new LensPen NLP-1 (bottom).
Several changes have been made to the design of the pen, most noticeable is the smaller size. They’ve reduced the length of the pen to help make it fit into smaller pockets. The next good change is the slider for the brush, this now locks into the open and close positions more firmly, helping to prevent the brush from accidentally opening up during transport. In addition, the brush is now made out of softer bristles, so there is less worry of scratching any glass while using it.
As mentioned above, the cap of the original LensPen became a thing of a problem over time. With the new NLP-1, this is has been addressed with a decent redesign. The new cap is now a screw-on twist cap, instead of the pull off cap of the original pen. The cap no longer falls off on its own during transport, and there is no longer a question of how much of a cap twist is needed to apply the cleaning chemical residue from the cap to the cleaning tip. Simply twist the cap all the way on, and then all the way off, and you’re good to go!
Lastly, the cleaning tip itself has also been improved. This is a small change in the design, but noteworthy to those with specific lenses. The cleaning tip now extends further out from the main body of the pen, allowing for more flexibility. This is very important, as the original lens pen had issues cleaning the glass edges of some wide angle lenses which include built-in hoods, like the Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-5.6. With the extended reach and flexibility of the new cleaning tip, it is easier to get into the hard-to-reach places next to these built-in lens hoods.
As of this writing, the new LensPen NLP-1 is only $0.26 more than the original, completely worth the quarter of a dollar extra investment for a better product!
LensPen NLP-1: http://amzn.com/B007G5NNOW
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