It has always baffled me that people spend thousands of dollars on photographic gear with the best lenses and filters to protect their glass and yet, they cannot keep their lenses clean. No point in pointing a $3,000 camera with a $2,000 lens and a $200 filter at a subject to take that excellent shot if your glass has a big filthy spot or smudge on it. So many of my photographic friends suffer from this little bit of sloppy housekeeping. I love and admire you all, but seriously? Even my own sister! I am sure she carries her camera around with as many fingers on the front glass as she can fit! When I am with them I will often take their cameras off them and get out my cleaning gear and make their glass crystal clear – better than when it came out of the factory! They laugh at me and my little bit of OCD.
Personally, I like to keep my gear clean and ready always. Always. I will usually clean all my lenses and camera LCD, etc the day before a planned shoot. An if choosing to go out randomly, I will take a few minutes to clean my gear. And my choice of product is a Japanese brand known as Cura. They are a Japanese company with a pretty low profile and whilst they make a range of exceptional cleaning products for cameras, they also make what are in my opinion the most gorgeous camera straps. But lets leave that for another day. I came across Cura cleaning products during one of my trips to Japan. And then when I returned home found a Hong Kong based company, Camera Film Photo, who is the global distributor for these products – outside of Japan. They are a unique little shop selling predominantly film and related products for film cameras. They also sell a range of bespoke camera accessories and products. Well worth the visit to their web store here!
On my trips to Japan I came across Cura products in the big camera stores. I picked up some products from Bic Camera and Yodobashi Camera stores. I have written about these stores in past blogs. Think massive department stores just for camera and tech gear. In Shinjuku, Tokyo, Yodobashi is spread across multiple buildings in the area immediately West of the station, with one building just dedicated to camera gear. If you love tech and cameras and are heading to Japan then do yourself a favour and pay these stores a visit. A few words to the wise based on my own experiences: a) don’t go into Yodobashi after consuming alcohol, b) take your passport so you can get the tax benefit of duty free, c) leave your credit card at your hotel and d) don’t go into Yodobashi after consuming alcohol! You have been warned.
The line of Cura products is pretty simple but of exceptional quality. There is an alcohol free lens cleaner fluid that is available in a range of sizes from 15ml up to 300ml bottles. The smaller ones come in a kit with a small pack of 30 lens tissues. It is a handy and cheap starter set. The 50ml bottles come in a simple drip opening and also in a spray bottle. And as they are of a non-alcoholic liquid, they can be used on any form or age of lens without fear of corrosion or alcohol impacting coatings. Next there are Micro Wiper dry lens tissues that come in packs of 30 up to boxes of 250 tissues. These are each around 5cm x 7cm in size and leave next to no residue. For me, two or three drops of the Cura cleaning fluid on a once folded Cura Micro Wiper tissue is enough to clean both the front and the rear glass of any sized lens. I use is to clean my LCD and also my EVF/OV. I have also used these tissues to clean my sensors. Don’t try this at home if you have never been shown how. So even the smallest cleaning set with the 15ml bottle of fluid and the 30 pack of the tissues is going to last for a bit. I picked up some of these in Tokyo for around 700 Yen or $7.00 AUD roughly.
The other great piece of kit from Cura is the Kumano Cleaning Brush. This brush is very well made with the finest of fibres. The brushes have two layers of bristles. One incredibly fine that reaches to the tip and the other a little coarser that is further back. I find this brush is excellent for when you have had your lens and camera in a particularly dusty location. I can remove all surface dust from the glass and the exterior of the lens and camera body before I get to work with the cleaning liquid and tissues. The brush comes in a little cloth storage case.
One of my key pieces of equipment that I pack with me when I am going on any sort of photo shoot is a handy little Cura Cleaning Pouch. I picked it up when I was last in Tokyo but you can also buy them online from the Camera Film Photo store. They are a 7cm by 10cm zipper case with leather trim and a leather CURA label. Inside they hold a 15ml bottle of the Cura Leans Cleaner fluid, a pack of 30 Cura Micro Wiper tissues and one of the Cura Kumano Cleaning Brushes. Each of these products have a purpose made space within the pouch to store them securely. It also has space for a couple of other bits. I pack a few cotton buds and a deer hide chamois that I picked up in Tokyo last year. My Cleaning Pouch is a burgandy colour but it is also available in a forrest green. There are also full leather pouches available with the same contents, obviously with a premium product for the pouch and at a premium price. It also comes in camel brown and black leather.
And that’s it! Well there is a can of pressurised air available but you cannot get that shipped outside of Japan nor from the store in Hong Kong. I personally don’t like using pressurised air or even a hand blower with my camera gear as I have found it just makes the dust airborne and gravity will inevitably make it land back down on something. The less flying dust you can create when cleaning camera gear the better. So always clean in a breeze free space. The Cura line of products are exceptional and of the highest quality. I highly recommend them. All shots for this blog were taken with my Fujifilm X-T2 and the XF50mmF2. I also used the small retro Fujifilm EF-X20 flash for lighting. And just to clarify, I am not sponsored by Cura or Camera Film Photo in any way. If you have been reading my work you will know that I am passionate about my craft. But for either the novice or the pro looking for a high quality product to keep your OCD needs in check, then check out Cura. Keep it clean! G.