Corroded binocular lenses. All photographs by the author.
Taking care of your birding gear is an essential part of optical performance. Maintaining the cleanliness of your lenses is vital in regard to the clarity and performance of binoculars and spotting scopes. The first step is to remove dirt particles, since they can scratch the lenses. You can remove these particles by using an optical lens brush or by using a canned air duster to blow away dirt and sand before cleaning to prevent any damage to the lenses. Once you’ve removed any particles, breathe onto the lens surface to form a coat of condensation and wipe using a soft, moist lens-cleaning cloth. If there are any hard to remove dirt or sand particles, send the product to the manufacturer’s repair department for a professional cleaning so that the lenses are not damaged. It is recommended that the product be sent in every few years for cleaning and a quality control check to ensure perfect performance.
If using your gear in saltwater environments, you should rinse it off when your day is done as long as the product is waterproof. Salt water causes intense degradation of all metal parts. Removing screws can be difficult for repair technicians because they become corroded and must be drilled out. This corrosion also affects metal parts of the focus mechanisms and may cause difficulty in focusing by jamming up components that are needed for smooth focusing.
Cleaning the body of your product is easy. You can use Simple Green (mixed with water) and a toothbrush to brush away the dirt. When finished, use a cloth or paper towel to dry the surface of the armor.
The following pictures of a repair show where the binoculars were corroded by salt water. All photographs were taken by the author.
Gail Fisher has always been an outdoor person and considers her birding gear so important not only to see birds, but all of what nature offers us. She has spent 25 years as a repair technician and the manager of the Swarovski Optiks repair department in Rhode Island.