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12-13-2012, 04:54 PM   #1
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Is This True?

"In case, you have noticed a mild attack of fungus on your camera lens, firing the lens continuously with an electronic flash gun will clear the fungus temporarily. It will also help eliminate the infestation that may have spread to other inaccessible parts of the camera."

and this?

"An herb called thymol is present in Indian herbs such as thyme and oregano. Placing a sachet of these in the camera kit may prove helpful in eliminating the fungus."


From this article:


Read more at Buzzle: How to Clean Camera Lens

I've never heard of either of these and it just sounded a little wack to me so T or F?



12-13-2012, 04:57 PM   #2
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The flash produces ultraviolet light when kills the fungus. However the sun also produces ultraviolet light and won't run the batteries down in you flash unit or overheat the strobe. It may take a couple of days though, especially in the winter when the days are shorter "up here" in the northern half of the hemisphere.

I can't speak to the herbs though.
12-13-2012, 05:33 PM   #3
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Unless there is a scientific study proving otherwise, the aromatic oils from the herbs might evaporate and cause damage to the multicoating. No proof of my comment other than common sense. Don't store evaporative substances near optics, like glues, oils, water, etc.

1st example: Recently had put super-glue on an adapter ring on a long lens and stored it. The lens multicoating became coated with the deposited super-glue fumes. Fortunately, I had just met a chemist who helped me clean it off with methanol - it just happened to work on the type of glue I used before it had a chance to do any damage.

2nd example: A used 100-300 Pentax lens rejected by KEH because a couple of the inside elements were fogged by oils that evaporated from the blades - the lens was not used much over many years and stored too long without a good airing and regular use.

Just sayin........


Last edited by goldenarrow; 12-13-2012 at 06:22 PM. Reason: .
12-13-2012, 06:11 PM   #4
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Oil of oregano is a known fungicide and bactericide. Which is why the real stuff is so frightfully expensive. But I wouldn't smear it on any of my lenses.

12-13-2012, 06:26 PM   #5
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You would need to put the lens in a special UV cabinet for several hours to do any good against killing fungi or any microorganisms. Sounds like a good way to kill a flash gun though.
12-13-2012, 06:28 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Sounds like urban legend stuff. Both ideas have some fundamental grain of truth, firing the flash through the lens (at least I assume that's what they meant) will send some UV radiation into it. But it won't make the fungus go away. It MIGHT, maybe, possibly kill the fungus that is currently growing but it will not kill the spores or remove any of the mycelium which is the part you actually see. The only thing that will remove that is opening the lens and cleaning it. And if the inside of the lens is still moist and there are still spores present (which there are) then it will just grow back. Sunlight or a UV lamp are effective for two reasons: first they have a UV component that will kill the fungus but second and probably more important is that they both warm up the lens and dry it out. This happens over several days time. Fungus is a pretty simple organism, give it water and it grows, take the water away and it dies.

As to the herbal thing, again a grain of truth in that some herbs are fungicidal. However, that usually means that an extract or oil is applied to the surface which kills or prevents the fungus from growing. So if you open the lens and apply the herbal oils to the surface of the lens it might kill the fungus. But so will rubbing alcohol and if you have the lens open you might as well clean it right. And the herbal stuff will just contaminate the lens. Putting a sachet of herbs in your bag might make it smell better but no way is that going to prevent fungal spores inside a lens from growing.

Of course lots of people carry rabbit's feet around for good luck so why not? Go ahead and put one in your bag and see what happens.
12-13-2012, 06:54 PM - 1 Like   #7
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Fungus, just like any other organism needs a few things to survive: food, air and water. Storing your lenses in a vacuum housing is a little impractical. Getting rid of the food (in this case oil/dust/algae etc. inside the lens) would probably mean taking the lens housing apart and cleaning it thoroughly, which is probably also a little impractical. So you're left with eliminating the last thing: water. Yep, it may be as easy as keeping your gear dry while in storage. Just make sure you put stuff away dry (leave out to dry for a while if necessary after use), and have a well sealed case or bag. In more moist climates it also helps to put a few dessicant packs (silica gel or small bag of uncooked rice) in with the gear, which will ensure a nice and dry environment.

As for firing the flash, I highly doubt that it'll release enough UV to actually kill fungus inside the lens. Fungicides (the actual concentrated chemicals) may help if you directly apply them to the inside of the lens, but no way is a bag of herbs going to do anything if you just put a pack of them next to your gear... ever seen pasta sauce grow mold? I rest my case.
12-13-2012, 06:55 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by jatrax Quote
Sounds like urban legend stuff. Both ideas have some fundamental grain of truth, firing the flash through the lens (at least I assume that's what they meant) will send some UV radiation into it. But it won't make the fungus go away. It MIGHT, maybe, possibly kill the fungus that is currently growing but it will not kill the spores or remove any of the mycelium which is the part you actually see. The only thing that will remove that is opening the lens and cleaning it. And if the inside of the lens is still moist and there are still spores present (which there are) then it will just grow back. Sunlight or a UV lamp are effective for two reasons: first they have a UV component that will kill the fungus but second and probably more important is that they both warm up the lens and dry it out. This happens over several days time. Fungus is a pretty simple organism, give it water and it grows, take the water away and it dies.

As to the herbal thing, again a grain of truth in that some herbs are fungicidal. However, that usually means that an extract or oil is applied to the surface which kills or prevents the fungus from growing. So if you open the lens and apply the herbal oils to the surface of the lens it might kill the fungus. But so will rubbing alcohol and if you have the lens open you might as well clean it right. And the herbal stuff will just contaminate the lens. Putting a sachet of herbs in your bag might make it smell better but no way is that going to prevent fungal spores inside a lens from growing.

Of course lots of people carry rabbit's feet around for good luck so why not? Go ahead and put one in your bag and see what happens.
This is the kind of UV cabinet I was talking about:

UVT-S-AR PCR UV Cabinet

12-13-2012, 10:04 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
This is the kind of UV cabinet I was talking about: UVT-S-AR PCR UV Cabinet
Looks pretty official and high powered and that might actually work. And I would bet that after you take the lens out, if it is still damp inside the fungus will just regrow. I have read a lot of comments about UV light 'killing' fungus and in general I don't really think that is what happens in most cases. My theory is that UV lamps, sunlight, or whatever method is used simply dries out the lens, removing the moisture and thus killing the fungus. Your cabinet might be the exception but that looks like something found in a lab or hospital.

Not saying UV light would not kill fungus, it might, but if you don't remove the moisture it will come back unless you have sterilized the inside of the lens. And that is very hard to do. You can kill the mycelium that is currently growing but the spores are far harder to kill.

And remember fungus grows just fine in full sunlight as long as it has enough moisture. How many small UV lights (or flashes) put out as much energy as full sunlight going all day long?
12-14-2012, 05:37 AM   #10
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The other thing I've always wondered about was possibly storing lenses in vac bags like space bags with a desiccant pack in there maybe just to get out any stray moisture that might go in before you vac close them. If air and water is what the fungus thrives on wouldn't that be a good alternative to a lens cabinet if you couldn't afford one maybe? But I've never seen anything written about anyone even trying it. Supposedly space bags are waterproof, air proof, bug proof etc all when properly sealed. I've sealed blankets and clothes in other things and been glad I had but I'd never thought to try it for lenses until the other day when I was unpacking my winter wool blanket and wondered if it would work...
12-14-2012, 06:55 AM   #11
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An nearly air tight cabinet with a 50 or 100 watt incandescent light bulb would most likely work in all cases except total submersion. The cabinet shouldn't be air tight because then the moisture is trapped. The bulb will produce enough heat to dry out the interior moisture. People who have gun safes use drying rods that take even less wattage to dry out a large area. Converting a cabinet using weather stripping and a light fixture would be quite easy to do.
12-14-2012, 11:23 AM   #12
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A ziplock bag with desiccant packs will work just fine. But you have to remember that the packs have only a limited ability to absorb moisture. Once they have absorbed all they can they are worthless. So for long term storage of an already dry lens this is a great solution.

But for drying and storing lenses that are being used, as in they come in damp or wet, you need a better solution. A drying cabinet like Tom S. suggests is ideal. I don't have one of those but when I come in I wipe everything as dry as I can and everything goes into my studio which is dry and warm. I have a desk that has a warm air vent under it and anything that I suspect is damp goes into there which gets quite toasty when the furnace runs.

Here in Oregon it is generally only raining when it is cold so the furnace is running. Not many rainy days in summer, so this system works for me. If I lived someplace that rained year round or had a very humid climate I would certainly invest in building a dry cabinet. They are not hard, as Tom S. mentioned even a 100 watt bulb will go a long way in a nearly tight area.
12-14-2012, 02:00 PM   #13
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A dessicant plus a long exposure to direct sunlight (not through a window) is the best fix for small amount of fungus. A torough cleaning is the best fix for signficant amount of fungus...
12-14-2012, 02:41 PM   #14
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DON'T use a steel cabinet, such as an office storage cabinet, as they will create condensation with temperature changes. Ask me how I know this?
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