Cinema Lens Care and Maintenance
If you've taken the plunge and invested in one, two, or a full set of cine-style lenses, you'll now want to take the best care possible of your lenses. Not only will the lenses function better if they're properly maintained, but you'll be protecting your (probably substantial) financial investment. Most cine-style lens care and maintenance is the same as for still or ENG-type lenses, so if you've made the switch from these other lens types, you'll know the drill.
When transporting your cine lenses between locations, although soft-sided cases are available, chances are you'll want to opt for a hard case, for maximum protection. Pro Video Lens Cases are available with options such as waterproofing, custom-cut foam and/or rigid overlays for specific lens brands, wheels, and retractable handles. Angenieux, Arriflex, Canon, Cooke, Fuji, Rokinon, Schneider, and Zeiss are just some of the brands for which customized cases are available. For run-and-gun situations, Lens Wraps may be used to cushion your cine-style lenses while placed in a bag or case.
Matte Boxes and Filters
There are several options for protecting your lenses from dust, dirt, and the elements. Preventing debris from contacting the front element of the lens can be helped by using a filter, lens hood, or matte box with hood. Rubber Lens Hoods are flexible and lightweight, making them a good choice when you'd rather not use a full-sized matte box. Matte Boxes range from simple clip-on types to more elaborate rod-mounted units with various accessories. Most matte boxes and hoods can accommodate one or more filters. Any effect filter will act as a physical barrier to debris, as well as producing the desired effect. Optical Flat Filters provide a truly clear, protective barrier without optically altering the transmitted light. An optical flat (clear) filter is also handy if a downpour is forecast, or you spot a water f/x shot on the callsheet.
While not specifically created just for cine-style lenses, there are various styles of camera/lens covers with different levels of water/dust repellency or waterproofing. These Rain Covers range from inexpensive polyethylene bag type covers to more substantial wetsuit styles.
While some maintenance procedures are best left to qualified technicians, you can perform basic cleaning of your cine-style lenses. Certain lens manufacturers require or recommend that shimming of lenses, swapping mounts, and lens collimation be performed at a certified facility. Check before you have any work done on your lenses.
Lens Care Products include brushes, air blowers, lens cleaning fluid, microfiber cloths, and lens tissues. A soft brush is handy for basic dust removal. Pen-style brushes retract, keeping the brush from picking up debris, fibers, etc. when not in use. Refrain from touching the cleaning implement's surface, as well as the lens's front and back glass elements. There's a reason CSI techs can lift fingerprints weeks after they've been left-with skin oil, no matter how clean your hands are, you will still leave fingerprints or residue on the lens surface or on the brush.
Compressed air is not recommended for lens cleaning-the cans are not filled with air as we breathe it. Instead, these cans have liquid propellants that push out the compressed gas that is in the container; the propellants can form a film on your lens's surface. Squeezable rubber bulbs with nozzles are a better choice for dislodging debris from a lens surface.
When cleaning with lens solution and lens tissue, apply the solution to the tissue, and then wipe the lens from the center out in a widening circle pattern. Why wet the tissue, not the lens you ask? You don't want drops of liquid potentially seeping into your lens. Professional cooks know to not portion out salt or spices while holding the measuring spoon over the food. A jostled arm or fumble could result in too much seasoning, or in this case, too much lens cleaner spilling out.
When splitting your shooting day between interior and exterior locations in cold or very humid conditions, condensation could potentially develop within a lens. A camera assistant can bring any lenses that are not being used outside to the interior set so that they have time to acclimate to the change in temperature and humidity.
Placing marks on your lens for zoom or focus positions? Small triangles of " Low-Tack Paper Tape can be used to point to your zoom start and stop marks, and are easier to remove or reposition than grease-pencil marks. Use a soft cloth or lens tissue to remove any marks from peel-off grease pencils (China markers).
With proper care and some common sense, you should be able to keep your cine-style lenses functioning and looking good for years to come.