Lenspen – review

Snake oil[1]. That’s what I had in mind for this product, and to be honest I’d been fooled by the name into thinking that there was something inside that scribbled over the lens/filter and this somehow made it clean.

Not even close.

Yes, it’s cheap, and in the world of Cameras and Hi-Fi the unspoken rule is that if it hurts to buy it, it’s got to be better than anything that costs less – having seen first hand ‘Best Quality Mains Cables’ being sold at stupid prices by people who have zero knowledge of power supply design I’m cured of the Hi-Fi price/sound lie, but sensor and lens cleaning are still worrisome to me: I want them both clean, but don’t have a working knowledge of what materials are used and how tough they really are.

A few more facts and less marketing wouldn’t hurt the manufacturers website either: the tip of the pen is a slightly concave velvet looking cushion of fabric – the different sizes of Lenspen are purely down to what your target device is. The standard Lenspen is fine for 49mm+ lenses (my smallest SLR lens is 49mm, but it also works ok on my PowerShot G3), but simply won’t get to touch the lens on mobile phones as it’s a larger diameter than their lenses.

The pad has a fine coating of small black particles (carbon ?) that are replenished each time the cap is put back on the pen from a sponge inside the lid itself. You can tell when the pad is ‘full’ as it takes on a dusky non-reflective appearance, and after use it compacts the powder and starts to look slightly more shiny. Think of the nap on any soft furry fabric being brushed up or brushed flat and that’s the look this has. The pop-up brush can be used both before the cleaning tip to dislodge large bits of fluff, and afterwards to shift any powder that’s dropped off.

Once I received the pen, I was still unsure how it would work, so started using it on cheap old filters and moved onto my glasses before going for my best lenses. It did the job. Very quickly, and with no fuss, although it is important to check how much is left on the tip if it starts squeaking on the lens – it often means that the power needs to be re-coated.

So how does it do the job ? I’m not sure, but it does seem like the power behaves as a sort of easy to manage talc that simply absorbs grease from the glass, and does a very good job of holding onto it. The lack of any need to tap off the much after a clean does concern me, but at the sort of price that 7 Day Shop charge, it’s no worse than buying cleaning fluid for spectacles.

I’ve now cleaned five lenses, two filters and three pairs of spectacles and am very impressed at both the ease of use and the quality of the clean, although I can’t comment yet on how long the device will last but I’m sold on the concept, and will take a look at the CCD cleaner these people produce. Again it’s ‘too cheap to be true’, but should I really hold that against it ?

[1] Actually, this is more accurate than might be imagined, as whilst the image of a wild-west grifter is brought to mind by the phrase, it turns out that the original idea and usage is actual and beneficial: it was just the imported copies that were pretty much useless.

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