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Danger of breathing on lenses - urban myth?

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10531 posts

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ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Sat 08-Dec-12 02:13 PM

This morning Nikon Rumors highlighted a post about the danger of cleaning lenses or filters by breathing on the glass or using saliva. I'm putting this in the "urban myth" category and attributing it to old or bad information perpetuated by Nikon and others. Please correct me if I'm off base and there is a real risk.

Here's a link to the post:
http://nikonrumors.com/2012/12/07/nikon-support-do-not-breathe-on-your-lens-to-clean-it-your-breath-contains-harmful-acids-that-could-damage-the-lens-coating.aspx/

And here's a link to Nikon's statement:
http://support.nikonusa.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/539/~/how-do-i-clean-the-camera-lens?

Saliva does not actually contain acids. It has a high ph and neutralizes acids which could lead to decay. Acids from food or beverages are normally neutralized within 30 minutes. Enzymes and proteins in saliva may have a negative effect, but the issue does not appear to be related to acids so I question the entire statement.

It’s extremely unlikely that the development and improvements to coatings would maintain a vulnerability to saliva or breathing on a lens since it is so common. You would expect that they would simply create coatings that are durable enough to avoid problems.

Nikon has had this on their website since 2002. I’ve seen it before the 2011 update that is referenced. That means it likely predates the formulation current coatings. As such, it looks like another piece of information that lacks true verification. I’ve seen that with batteries as well – where Nikon’s support site conflicts with the manufacturer’s statements and third party facts about storage.

I would expect that someone would have seen an issue with the impact of saliva or breath on lenses or filters – and I’ve never seen anyone express that idea.

It’s interesting also that filter makers don’t have this same warning.
http://www.hoyafilter.com/support/tips-techniques/how-to-clean-filters/
http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/faq/bw.htm#qu17

So I would call this an Urban Myth perpetuated by various websites and Nikon.


Eric Bowles
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