My photography got a lot better this year, in part because I got a better camera, a Panasonic Lumix LX3 with a Leica Lens and because I really started to pay more attention to composition. But with more sophisticated equipment, I paid a lot more attention to keeping my lens and filter attachments spotless. It made a big difference, especially at the higher resolution I get with a better digital camera.
But keeping your camera lenses clean in the backcountry is not without challenges. Which is why I want to tell you about the Lens Pen from Nikon, a great lens cleaner, that I've been using for the past year and that I bring on all of my hiking and backpacking trips.
The size of a thick pen, the Lens Pen has two cleaning attachments: a soft brush to flick dust off your lenses that retracts up into the pen body when not in use, and a unique cleaning tip that removes fingerprints, smudges, and grease marks off the lenses. To use the cleaning tip, you remove it's protective cap and wipe the lens with a smooth circular motions . I use it on my camera, but it should also work with binoculars, scopes, and video cameras.
I can't find any documentation about what the cleaning agent used on cleaning tip is – sorry, but I haven't not noticed any impact on my filter coatings, so I figure it's pretty benign. The cleaning agent is self-replenishing when you put the cap back over the tip and give it a half turn.
In my experience this is a great product, and for under $10. Weight on the sectionhiker digital scale: 16 grams. Impact on photo quality: priceless.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.