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- New and improved patented carbon cleaning compound, more cleaning, no fluids required
- New twist cap activator, retractable ultra soft natural brush
- Environment friendly and non-toxic
- Ergonomic body
- Nothing spills, drips or dries out
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Designed for cleaning lenses, binoculars, scopes, night vision goggles and other sport optical devices
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If you've read this bio from another review, please skip it, no sense in boring you twice....For the record...My background after leaving the Military, as a photo wet lab instructor, with "several" hours of photo reconnaissance in the Far East, included a 20 year paid affiliation with a respected optical use and applications laboratory of a Fortune 50 Corporation. I am "retired" in Florida with a home grown photo testing lab and a reseller of Canon Gear.
Although, they've been around for a few years, I recently purchased 6 genuine Lens Pens and 50 "genuine" counterfeits to run some performance tests and comparisons. The "fakes" are covered in a separate review.
The ads for the genuine Lens Pen were always intriguing; a compact, 4 1/2" pen sized cleaning device, fits in your pocket, good for cleaning all lenses, filters, eyepieces, and according to their website, lasts long enough "to remove 500 fingerprints". Wow! All this from an "uncapped" retractable 1" by ½" synthetic bristle brush at one end, and a tiny screw capped ½" chamois pad, impregnated with carbon black, perched on a ½" flexible rubber platform at the other end.
My first skepticism started with the brush. Retractable yes, but fully protected, no. Why no protective cap to cover the brush tips? The tips of the bristles, the most critical part of the brush, were left exposed inside the tube. The uncapped tips not only can pick up dirt, dust and lint in a shirt pocket or a camera bag (also mentioned by other reviewers), they do! In my opinion, this is a careless design, for a $6-8 item so highly touted.
Secondly, the size of the ½" in diameter chamois "pad" (2/3rds the size of a dime) to clean common (D)SLR lenses having an average diameter of between 52mm and 77mm (2-3inches), (That's 4-6 X larger surface area than the pad itself), seemed to defy the laws of physics. Further, we are instructed by the LensPen Web Site NEVER to clean the pad with any cleaning solution, or even distilled water to remove the trapped soils collected from previous lens cleanings, allowing any soil residues to remain permanently on the tiny chamois pad or on the 1/2" X 7/16" foam plug the chamois pad rests against inside the tube.
The LensPen's method of claimed "cleaning replenishment" comes from screwing the cleaning head back into the cap, which nests against a ½"x 7/16" foam "plug" lightly impregnated with carbon black. Just about now, I began to lose my objectivity. All I could think of was how this procedure reminded me of, after finishing a meal, having to put the dirty silverware back into the clean silverware drawer, and even worse, taking these same dirty utensils the next day and reusing them. Nevertheless, I decided to finish the evaluation to see just how many of my fingerprints could be removed, before the pad "quit" and started to streak. The LensPen ads and Web Site claim this device will last through 500 cleanings or long enough to remove "500" of their "laboratory generated fingerprints".
Our test procedure was designed to be practical, and one you can run yourself, as follows:
I rubbed the side of my nose with my forefinger and rubbed the sebum (skin oil) on to a 52mm filter, covering an area the diameter of my forefinger, approximately 10/16".
The first attempt at removing this fingerprint with the Nikon LensPen NLP-1 went FLAWLESSLY...100% AS ADVERTISED, and done in under 10 seconds!
The pad was then placed fully into its cap for carbon black "replenishment", and the above procedure, repeated.. This time, however, the second fingerprint removal took almost twice as long, as some smearing was evident. However, after about twenty seconds, the lens was again sparkling clean, even under 60x magnification.
For the third time, the pad was once again placed fully into its cap for carbon black "replenishment", and the above procedure, repeated.
This time, however, the filter surface never got clean. The filter surface remained, streaked and smudged, even after 3 more attempts to renew the pad by screwing the cap into the foam plug with the carbon black refresher.
To be fair, we need to rerun the test using a different new Lens Pen, which BTW is the "new design" and genuine.
The test was repeated with the new Lens Pen NLP-1. Results: exactly the same outcome, as the first. After the second wiping of the skin oil fingerprint, the Lens Pen could not clean streak free the third time.
Finally, we let the pens "rest" for a day, and the next day, tried each one on a totally clean 52mm filter, without any soil to be removed. I rubbed the first pen lightly on the clean filter, and as you probably guessed, the pad left a streaked residue from the retained oils from the lenses "cleaned", the day before..... same results with the second pen on the second clean filter.
1. A bad batch of pens used for these tests?.. Not very likely this time, as this test was repeated a total of 6 times using 3 different vendor sources of NLP-1 LensPens.
2. The more likely conclusion is that the tiny Lens Pen cleaning pad could not absorb all the oil, and as a result, redeposited the unabsorbed oil right back on to the clean filter surface. My real concern, and perhaps yours as well, after this observation, was what if it wasn't just oil being re-deposited, but instead, retained micro grit from its previous use that could not only scratch the lens coating, but also scratch the lens itself?
3. In our test repetitions, the Lens Pen lasted through only TWO successive applications removing "real" fingerprints from skin oil, significantly underperforming the claim of "500" stated both in the LensPen ads and on the LensPen Web Site. However, on a relatively clean lens surface, or one with "laboratory generated finger prints", a new Lens Pen does a great job with no streaks. For that matter, under most circumstances, so will our breath and a clean split microfiber lens cloth or lens tissue.
Summary: For a lens surface that "really" needs cleaning, the classic, but less cool and safer method, in our view, still prevails...Begin by blowing, and or BRUSHING FIRST with a clean, natural hair lens brush (100% goat hair), followed by a "boringly effective" disposable lens wipe, made by Zeiss or Nikon, or a clean brand name micro fiber cloth and a lens cleaner, made by Zeiss, Nikon, ROR or Kodak. It may not be trendy, but will always do the job thoroughly and safely. And, if you are one of those that faithfully cleans their micro fiber cloth after each use, you need never worry about redepositing residues from lenses cleaned previously with that same cloth, a claim that the newest NLP-1 model LensPen cannot match, as evidenced in the tests detailed above....Steve
Copyright © Canon_Treasures 2013 all rights reserved
The new model with the screw on cap seemed like it would be the perfect "upgrade" to prevent the tips from drying out. When brand new and for about 8-10 uses, the tips are great and they clean lenses and filters amazingly well. It seems, however that the new Lens Pens with the screw on caps do not permit the tip to be screwed down far enough into the lens pen to touch the sponge or whatever is in the cap to keep it in good shape for more than about 10 uses.
When I breath on the lens or filter first (sometimes necessary if the lens or filter is really dirty) and then use these Lens Pens, that seems to make the tip dry out even faster. If the tips would stay in good shape longer, this would easily be a 5-star product but since they dry out so fast, its only a 2 or three star product since you'll have to keep buying them over and over if you shoot much.
For now I carry a bunch of these in the car and a bunch of wipes too. Unless it is really hot out when I use the wipes, they leave streaks on the lens or filter which then have to be removed with the Lens Pen.
I use these, combined with a hurricane bulb-blower to clean my telescope eyepieces. Since I have an 8-year-old that likes the telescope and likes to stick her fingers into things (despite being repeatedly told not to) this is a lifesaver. It is quick, easy, and compact enough to fit in my eyepiece kit. Better yet, I don't need any liquid cleaners with it that could leak inside the kit!
I try to clean the eyepieces just as much as absolutely needed, as there's no reason to risk scratching the coatings unless you need to clean.
I start with the hurricane to blow off larger stuff (eyelashes, dust particles, small bits of sand, etc). I always do this before brushing as I'm paranoid about the brush getting sand stuck in it (unlikely, but just because I'm paranoid doesn't make it impossible). If the eyepiece is now clean, I stop here and don't bother with the pen. That said, blowers only do so much.
From there I use the brush to flick off any remaining bits of dust, and dislodge things that are a bit stuck to the surface. Again, if it is now clean, I stop here.
Finally I use the pad end of the lenspen to rub off any fingerprints or other goop stuck to the eyepiece. I would strongly advise never doing this stage without making sure the brushing stage got rid of all the large particles. You don't want the pad end to be rubbing stuff around on the eyepiece, and risk scratching the glass.