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Significant Prohibition By Leica When Cleaning Binoculars (1 Viewer)

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
I posted the following earlier today:
Hi ZDHart (post #9),

I was interested to see Leica's prohibition against using 'alcohol or other cleaning solutions', since I couldn't remember that being said by them (or by Zeiss or by Swarovski). Since it seems that it must be a recent change, I decided to look back through some of the Leica instruction manuals.
They can be found at: Downloads // Support // Service & Support - Leica Camera AG

And:
• the 2013 Ultravid manual has no mention;
• by 2017, the Noctivid manual states 'Do not use alcohol or chemical cleaning solutions on the binoculars' and;
• by 2019, the Retrovid manual states as a seperate dot point 'Do not use alcohol or chemical cleaning solutions on the optics or housing'.

So it's a relatively recent change - and an important one for Leica owners to know - since:
• it's contrary to what some commonly do, especially when cleaning lenses;
• it seemingly may result in either physical damage or the accelerated breakdown of materials, and then;
• it may have implications for someone who sends in a unit for servicing!

It would be useful to know if it's due to an abundance (overabundance?) of caution, or if it's necessary due to changing to more eco-friendly materials.
It also seems to indicate that the outer lens coating AquaDura, is not all that dura.
. . .

As it could have serious implications for Leica users, it’s best to be forewarned.


John


p.s. The 2017 manual for the Apo-Televid Telescope says much the same thing, though in a more roundabout way.
 

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Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
I posted the following earlier today:


As it could have serious implications for Leica users, it’s best to be forewarned.


John


p.s. The 2017 manual for the Apo-Televid Telescope says much the same thing, though in a more roundabout way.
This guidance doesn't seem to be primarily about the lenses.

In the first image it says do not use on the binoculars.
In the second it says do not use on optics or housing.
In the third it says do not use on the housing.

I am thinking that this warning may have been caused by alcohol cleaners creeping inside binos and scopes, maybe thinning out the grease on the focus mechanism resulting in the grease outgassing and causing routine repairs to become more expensive due to the additional cleaning-up required, in a similar way to the problems caused by WD-40.

Maybe Gary could comment on this.

Lee
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
Hi Lee,

I take your point about the inconsistency/ambiguity between the various sets of instructions.
However, it's the most recent ones in the 2019 Retrovid manual, that's are the most explicit and restrictive
- covering both the optics and the housing.


John
 
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Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
Hi John, the one thing that seems consistent is the reference to housing twice and also the word 'binocular' which says to me 'anywhere including the housing' on the instrument from which I take it to mean it isn't primarily harm to the optics coatings that underlies these warnings, but rather some other risk about which I went on to speculate.

Cheers Lee
 

NDhunter

Experienced observer
United States
Alcohol has never been a recommended fluid for cleaning binoculars, lenses or otherwise, by any manufacturer.
I suppose Leica is just trying to educate and minimize problems along the way. I see nothing wrong with that.
The question of cleaning comes up quite often on this site.

Jerry
 

wdc

Well-known member
How about acetone? I seem to remember the other 'Bill' (the wise and experienced one) talking about using that.

-Bill
 

John A Roberts

Well-known member
Australia
In the discussion that followed on from my initial post, the significance of the phrase 'Do not use alcohol or chemical cleaning solutions . . .' seems to have been missed.

If it’s read literally, presumedly as Leica intends, it’s saying 'Do not use any chemical cleaning solutions on the optics or housing'!
- and that’s what I found astonishing.

What 'non-chemical cleaning solutions' are Leica thinking of? In all the versions of the instructions, Leica clearly says to only use water. So it’s the impracticality of the proscription that I found remarkable.

Lenses can often be cleaned by some combination of blowing, brushing, lightly wiping or running water, as Leica describes. However, sometimes more needs to be done to remove the things that get on lenses. And likewise, the instructions would preclude the use of any rubber cleaning/conditioning solutions.

If Leica's recommended cleaning procedures can’t solve the problem - seemingly the only option that would be acceptable to them in terms of their restrictions - would be to send the unit back to them for servicing! Any bets on if that's what they want?


John
 
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Mike F

Well-known member
Presumably Leica’s recommendation doesn’t preclude the use of mild household detergent (washing up liquid)? That will remove most grease and grime.
 

tenex

reality-based
It seems a matter of common sense that by "chemical cleaning solutions" they really mean solvents (and should use that word), as opposed to soap or detergent. Dawn detergent is legendary for oil removal (the package features fluffy, formerly oiled birds) and even plain Ivory soap can be very effective. And of course NL purchasers now get a bar of soap.
 

Troubador

Moderator
Staff member
Supporter
of course NL purchasers now get a bar of soap.
But surely this NL bar of soap is for the purchaser of the binos not for the binos themselves? Some birders need to smarten themselves up and this is Swarovski giving them a gentle hint and a helping hand......................shame they don't include a small bottle of cologne.:)

Lee
Just joshing folks, blame my weird sense of humour.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
Alcohol has never been a recommended fluid for cleaning binoculars, lenses or otherwise, by any manufacturer.
I suppose Leica is just trying to educate and minimize problems along the way. I see nothing wrong with that.
The question of cleaning comes up quite often on this site.

Jerry

Not true about alcohol. It is extremely commonly used in lens cleaning.
Nikon has long recommended cleaning all lenses with ethanol and cotton balls.
Many lens cleaning solutions contain ethanol and other alcohols, including the commonly used one (and wipes) from Zeiss.

--AP
 

Stonefaction

Stuck in Dundee.....
Scotland
I saw on Twitter last year a few folk who had issues with their binoculars coating (I think) due to having had to use the alcohol hand gels so often because of Covid. Perhaps this is part of the reason they are highlighting this?
 

GrampaTom

Well-known member
United States
1. Years ago I toured the Leupold factory in Beaverton. It was mind boggling to think of the manufacturing issue trying to keep every lens surface of every lens clean while being handled in assembly. The solution then used was cotton balls and alcohol.

2. I called Swaro a year or so ago after purchasing a pair of binos substantially newer than that old leupold visit. I was told to unscrew the eye cups. Take the Bino to a sink, invert them and gently play water from the faucet onto the lens surface. Then use microfiber cloth to blot up, gently wipe excess water. The tech finished by saying remember these are waterproof
 
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ZDHart

Well-known member
Supporter
Not true about alcohol. It is extremely commonly used in lens cleaning.
Nikon has long recommended cleaning all lenses with ethanol and cotton balls.
Many lens cleaning solutions contain ethanol and other alcohols, including the commonly used one (and wipes) from Zeiss.

--AP
I think the newest lens coatings may be less impervious to chemicals and alcohol than previous lens coatings may have been. Just a hunch on my part, based on some recent manufacture recommendations for cleaning.

That said, I suspect that alcohol which is sufficiently diluted with water, perhaps 50/50 ("Rubbing Alcohol"), is likely fairly safe, if used sparingly and only very occasionally, with clean microfiber cloth.
 

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