Spudz Lens Cleaning Cloths; Update

chopper-flamesI have been carrying around and using Spudz Lens Cleaning Cloths now for almost two years. I have had the tiny ones, the huge ones (not sure they are actually called “Spudz“), the “grey card” one and now the bit-bigger-but-not-so-big-it’s-not-practical one (large – 10″ x 10″).

And I still absolutely love them! I don’t think I ever go anywhere without one, either in my pocket and mainly reserved for cleaning my specs, or clipped on the side of the camera bag. I use them for cleaning my monitors and even the TV once in a while (although you do the really big one for that!).

Most impressive of all, is that I am still carrying (and using every single day) the very first Spudz that came my way. It’s the “grey card” one (I mean it can be used to do the job of a grey card; obviously it is not actually made of card) and it has seen enough action now to be possibly (probably?) the best value for money item in my kit bag, of all time. It’s such a simple concept, but the grey cloth is so handy for tweaking the white balance and exposure without the need to carry anything extra. I couldn’t be without one now, especially after I lost it for a short time when I failed to put it back in it’s proper place after use; a mistake I won’t make again!

union-jack-flagThey’ve been through the washing machine a few times without incident (tucked safely inside a pillow case). They get treated quite roughly on a day-to-day basis, but they are still in excellent condition – in fact, I just checked out the most used Spudz in the collection to make sure I’m not getting carried away and I can report that it has nothing more than a barely noticeable discolouration in the corner seams of the outer case. This is pretty remarkable.

I expect I have said this before on TDM, but it’s really hard to believe that something this brilliant is this inexpensive.

In terms of simple, effective, value for money camera accessories, this has to be one of the best ever. Spudz even rival Lastolite folding reflectors for these criteria, and that’s some achievement.

It’s a hard call to make, whether the 10″ square one is better than the 8″ square one. This is probably going to be down to your specific preferences. The 10″ square version feels like the “deluxe” model, with just that little bit more for your money.

If you go to the JP Distribution website you can find out about the whole range and where you can purchase them from.

Alpine Innovations Moves to JP Distribution

JP Distribution have been chosen as the exclusive UK distributor for Alpine Innovations.

Alpine Innovations officially started in 2001 and since then has supplied a wide range of products to a long line of different markets including photography, fishing, golf, outdoor, eyewear and medical. JP Distribution will be adding two of Alpine’s patented products to the growing portfolio; Spudz and Camovers.

Spudz are available in a range of colour designs and sizes and prices start from as low as £2.99 Inc vat. What makes Spudz so convenient is the design. Unlike other lens cloths, the Spudz lens cloth stays attached to the inside of the storage pouch. The snap hook also provides an easy way to clip it to a keychain or camera bag and keep it available at all times.

Many photographers have already found Spudz to be an essential part of every photo shoot. Spudz will clean finger prints, moisture and dust particles from lenses gently because of the special Micro-Fibre cloth inside.

The latest addition to the Spudz range is a cleaning cloth that is also 18% grey so cleaning your lens and calibrating your camera have never been easier!

The Decisive Moment is a big fan – see our previous review of Spudz.

Camovers have been designed to work with the most popular compact digital cameras on the market today. The neoprene pouch offers complete protection from the elements and keeps it insulated from abrasive objects.

Just slip your camera’s wrist strap through the top hole in the pouch, pull your Camover down around your camera and start enjoying its convenient protection. They also include a 3″ x 4″ microfibre cloth attached inside the pouch and helps protect the LCD screen and cleaning your camera lens.

Review: Spudz Lens Cleaning Cloths

Spudz Lens Cleaning Cloth

Now, I love technology! There’s something magical about the smell of new electronics, possibly because it is a smell that can only be recognized by men (trust me – ask a woman what “new electronics” smells like). Lots of little buttons, LEDs, motors, all that stuff!

So I was a little surprised to find myself getting all excited about Spudz Lens Cloths. But I am. I used to have one of those Pentax cloths which did a brilliant job and when it was grubby you just put it in the wash and it was fixed. Trouble is, I can’t remember where I last had it. And, in spite of visiting every camera shop and optician in my local shopping centre (which is pretty big), I can’t locate one. Obviously I have looked on the trusty Internet which did yield a result, but somehow the online store did not inspire me to purchase.

Anyway, I was flicking through the pages at the back of Digital Camera Magazine and I spotted this little advert for “Spudz” cloths. I trundled off to the Alpine Innovations website and did a little research and next thing I know I’m holding three variants of the product and rushing around the house collecting optical glass in need of a polish.

The Basics

The concept is wonderfully simple; find yourself a perfect material for safely and effectively cleaning optical glass, sow it into a pouch to keep it in good condition and attach a clip for you to fix it to something so you can always find it when you need it. How brilliant is that?

First Impressions and Observations

Okay, I’m going to be honest and say that my very first thoughts when I received the Spudz were a bit negative. The Mini version is tiny. Teeny-tiny, in fact – 2″ x 6″ (about 50 x 150mm). What possible use could that be, I wondered. However, I attached it to my mobile phone (as recommended by Alpine Innovations) and now I have possibly the cleanest mobile phone camera lens in the southern hemisphere. It doesn’t get in the way, it doesn’t get lost and it has exactly the right amount of cloth to do the job. Genius!

My other negative doubt was a little more serious and was about durability. The old Pentax cloths were stitched around the edges to prevent them from fraying, but the Spudz cloth has been cut and left. I couldn’t see it lasting very long. However, anyone who ever used the Pentax cloth will probably tell you that the edge seam could be a pain in the proverbial, getting in the way during a delicate cleaning operation. That does not happen with the Spudz. I am very happy to report that after several months of virtually obsessive (and possibly excessive) cleaning, there is no sign whatsoever of the cloth fraying at the edges. Spudz are not stitched around the edge because they don’t need to be.

Now here is the bit that gets me all giggly. I have the XL Spudz, which is the largest of the trio at 10″ x 10″ (that’s about 250mm square) and I would say is the perfect size for a photographer’s needs. The XL is available in 18% grey so it can be used for taking accurate reflection meter readings and for setting white balance on digital SLRs. That is so smart. A grey card you can actually keep with you!

When your Spudz becomes dirty you can give it a wash and it’s sorted.

I feel I have written far too much here. Spudz are so simple in concept that one paragraph should cover it. I love the simplicity but most of all I like the feeling that someone has actually thought about what I really need and given me exactly that.

Finally (and this is a very personal thing), no matter how good or desirable a product is, there is always the possibility that you will have to make contact with the supplier/manufacturer and I put a lot of store in the quality of the personnel I have to talk to. In this case, I am pleased to report that my email “chats” with Alpine Innovations have shown them to be helpful and interested in the people who buy their products.

In Conclusion

I really don’t understand why they seem to be a big secret – they should be on the counter of every single photographic shop you walk into. Take a look at the Alpine Innovations website.

The quality is excellent, the price is fair, it does what it is supposed to do and I am never going to be without one.