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03-06-2012, 10:28 PM   #1
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Is lens fungus contagious?

Recently I picked up a 1.7 M riddled with haze, fungus and dust. I am planning to use it as my learning lens to disassemble/reassemble and clean inside out.
Cost me $10, so I can afford to completely destroy it.

I am now waiting to find the right tools and the free time to do this cleaning, but in the meantime the lens is sitting as is. My question is, is the fungus in the lens contagious? Will it infect my other lenses? They are not in the same drawer, but I am wondering if the fungus can get airborne. I now wrapped it in a plastic bag and hid it in the kitchen cupboard just in case, but it was in the same room with the others for about a week (when I suddenly decided to obsess about this).

Yeah, I am crazy - I've been told many a time

Argun

03-06-2012, 10:44 PM - 1 Like   #2
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There is fungus everywhere already.
But having a lens that is thoroughly infected, I'd keep it in a ziplock baggie or something, just to not put more of that type of fungus around your good lenses. If you're going to get fungus, you don't need an infected lens, you just need the right conditions. Still, I wouldn't stretch my luck.

And wash your hands and tools in 10% bleach solution --- 1 part bleach 10 parts water --- after handling. Diluted bleach is actually a much more powerful disinfectant than full strength bleach.
03-07-2012, 01:11 AM   #3
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The spread of fungus can be prevented just by using the lens regularly. As fungus loves dark, moist places the best you can do is expose the lenses to fresh air and sunlight, i.e. just use them normally.
03-07-2012, 07:18 AM   #4
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Keeping a lens with with fungus together with other unaffected lenses is risky as it is all too easy for the fungal spores to spread.

03-07-2012, 11:20 AM   #5
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Give it a heavy dose of sunlight and that will kill most of the fungus (except what is trapped in dark places in the lens). I would think that any fungus that is trapped in dark places in the lens isn't that likely to be enough to go spreading to all your other lenses. If you store your lenses in an area that promotes fungus growth, you are going to get it anyway. The most cross contamination might do is increase the speed a bit as there is a bit higher concentration to start with. If you kill most of the fungus in the lens off, you have pretty much eliminated that higher concentration risk.
03-07-2012, 11:34 AM   #6
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I have read warnings to keep fungused lenses away from good ones, as the spores might spread. The risk of that is probably pretty low, but I wouldn't take it. Keep the lens in sunlight while it waits, preferably, as already stated, in a dry, ventilated, bright area. Fungus hates UV light.
03-07-2012, 11:37 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
Keeping a lens with with fungus together with other unaffected lenses is risky as it is all too easy for the fungal spores to spread.
Just as I was worrying about - but do I have to do something to my other lenses, now that the sick lens has been in a room with them for about a week? (although everyone had both caps on at all times). I shoot with all regularly, so they do see sun.

The sick lens is quarantined now.
03-07-2012, 12:02 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by atekant Quote
Just as I was worrying about - but do I have to do something to my other lenses, now that the sick lens has been in a room with them for about a week? (although everyone had both caps on at all times). I shoot with all regularly, so they do see sun.

The sick lens is quarantined now.
There is probably already more mold in the air and on most surfaces in your house than having that lens in the same room with others would have ever caused. If you are worried about it that much, get a hepa filter. Mold is everywhere including in the air you breath. Its not from your new lens, it was already there. If your house is temperature controlled (not hot and humid for instance) the mold would not have spread much as the environment is hostile enough. Mold is hiding everywhere in your house, and if you give it the right conditions to flourish, its going to spread airborne spores by the millions everywhere. Even if you clean every surface in your house, there will still be mold in the walls. As long as the concentration is very low it is harmless. As long as your lenses are stored in proper conditions, it is likewise harmless. Every lens you own probably already has a little mold in it. It only takes a little to turn into a lot if you give it the right conditions.

03-07-2012, 01:50 PM - 1 Like   #9
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The 50 1.7M don;t need much special tools to take apart, remove a lens ring with a sink stopper and there are three screws. Remove those 3 screws and another thee that holds the lens block and the block will slide out. From there you should be able to clean most of the fungus off.
03-08-2012, 12:47 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hamster Quote
The 50 1.7M don;t need much special tools to take apart, remove a lens ring with a sink stopper
Thanks for that info. That's the part I thought I was going to need some special tools.
03-08-2012, 06:52 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by ripit Quote
There is probably already more mold in the air and on most surfaces in your house than having that lens in the same room with others would have ever caused. If you are worried about it that much, get a hepa filter. Mold is everywhere including in the air you breath. Its not from your new lens, it was already there. If your house is temperature controlled (not hot and humid for instance) the mold would not have spread much as the environment is hostile enough. Mold is hiding everywhere in your house, and if you give it the right conditions to flourish, its going to spread airborne spores by the millions everywhere. Even if you clean every surface in your house, there will still be mold in the walls. As long as the concentration is very low it is harmless. As long as your lenses are stored in proper conditions, it is likewise harmless. Every lens you own probably already has a little mold in it. It only takes a little to turn into a lot if you give it the right conditions.
It also takes the right kind of fungus. Not every spore will grow on lens coatings, consequently, most of the common household spores are benign anyway. Once a fungus infected lens is introduced, you have potential to infect other lenses.
03-09-2012, 06:16 PM - 1 Like   #12
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A couple of hints, if this is your first one :

Before you unscrew anything mark it so that you can screw it back to the same position.
Make notes or take pictures of what you are undoing so you can put it back together again.
The front bezel comes off using a sink stopper or any other round object wrapped up in a thin rubber glove.
For JIS screws get the proper driver or use a small flat blade - normal crosshead will chew up the slots.
Watch out for the aperture ring detent ball bearing - it will be held on with grease but will invariably drop off later.
Borrow some cold cream from a female friend - this really works to remove fungus.
As you take it to bits lay out the parts logically, with any glass stick a bit of tape on one side so that you put it back together the right way up.
The glass coating is quite tough so don't worry too much about damaging it as you clean off any grime.
Wear thin disposable rubber gloves when you do the re-assembly.

The old lenses are easy to take to bits and clean - not so with the modern plastic bodied ones

Watch out, it is a form of LBA, before you know it you'll be compulsively searching eBay for 'Pentax lens with fungus' every day ...
03-09-2012, 06:50 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
Keeping a lens with with fungus together with other unaffected lenses is risky as it is all too easy for the fungal spores to spread.
+1 if you put one uncovered Petri dish with a mature culture of penicillin on it in an incubator amongst a heap of uncovered and unpopulated Petri dishes the penicillin will inevitably spread, in optimal conditions it doesn't take long for the fungi to spread itself around.

Last edited by Digitalis; 03-09-2012 at 11:24 PM.
03-09-2012, 08:07 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
It also takes the right kind of fungus. Not every spore will grow on lens coatings, consequently, most of the common household spores are benign anyway. Once a fungus infected lens is introduced, you have potential to infect other lenses.
What he said.


Imagine, if you would, the surface of a lens. Not much to live on there, but some fungi are able to manage it. Most cannot. Best to not provide them with "fresh meat", so to speak.


Steve
03-09-2012, 08:09 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Digitalis Quote
+1 of you put one uncovered Petri dish with a mature culture of penicillin on it in an incubator amongst a heap of uncovered and unpopulated Petri dishes the penicillin will inevitably spread, in optimal conditions it doesn't take long for the fungi to spread itself around.
Exactly. And it while the surface of a lens is a fairly hostile "petri dish", any fungus that is capable of exploiting it will see very little competition and likely do pretty well.


Steve

(...makes one wonder if Petri cameras are more prone...)
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