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04-20-2009, 08:52 AM   #1
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Please help stopping/cleaning lens fungus

Hi there!

I hope someone can help me with this. I was just revising my lenses as I want to get some good Hoya filter for all of them, and I found out that two of my lenses show what it seems lens fungus. I really don't have any experience with this, but I think they are because they look really strange.

The biggest one, 2x2 cm big, is in my Sigma 70-300. This lens is about 1 year old, and I'm really surprised that fungus could have appeared in it. Whatever it is, it looks like a really small plant root, or a chaotic ice cristal. It's definitely inside the lens, looking like the second glass after the frontal one. This is the first time I've seen it, so I don't know how much time it has been growing or since when it is there.

The second one is in my SMC Takumar 50. This is in the frontal glass, and they are two really really small bits, but they're there.

I've always have stored all my lenses, together with the K10D, inside a Lowepro slingshot bag. My house has quite some humidity specially in winter (I don't know if that will affect), but I have a few dessicant silica gel bags inside.


My main big doubt is if I need to take those lenses out of the bag. Is the fungus going to "jump" from one lens to another? Is there something I can do to stop it growth or clean the fungus out of the lenses.

Please, any advice will be more than welcome.
Regards,
_rafa

04-20-2009, 09:07 AM   #2
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If the sigma is valuable, send it to repairs. Seriously. Do not take it apart yourself if you dont know what you are doing. Talk to the repairman and tell him that he got a fungal lense coming in.

The takumar is straightforward to clean. Other then that, keep your lenses in sunlight and keep the storage dry. A cabinet or shelf with caps of it is a good place to store them. If you got a dry place.

Also, if you are collectorparanoid about it. Dont mount the lenses to a camera. Because the fungus "spores" can move to the camera and that means the camera and other lenses that you mount to it can be infected too. Dont store lenses in a bag. When you get home, take them out and wipe them off. Then put them in a box which is well ventilated and dry.
04-20-2009, 09:11 AM   #3
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Two things fungus likes: darkness and moisture. Two things it hates: UV light and dryness. If the humidity is low, try putting the lenses in a window sill with direct sunlight exposure. That should kill off the fungus but may take a while. You can also have the lenses cleaned, but I do not recommend you try taking them apart yourself, some things are best left to professionals.

To prevent recurrence, keep the humidity as low as possible. Consider storing the lenses in an enclosure with a low voltage heat source (such as an 25 watt incandescent light) to keep the humidity low.
04-20-2009, 04:17 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Tom S. Quote
...... Consider storing the lenses in an enclosure with a low voltage heat source (such as an 25 watt incandescent light) to keep the humidity low.

Hmmmm, do you mean, a closed box with light inside ? Interesting idea

04-20-2009, 04:29 PM   #5
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I'd just buy some silica gel.


04-20-2009, 09:26 PM   #6
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To stop the fungus attack, put the lens in a dry place. If the fungus growth is not too advanced, you can have your lens cleaned at a professional service center. As stated by Zewrak, don't attempt to repair it yourself. If the fungus has already started etching the glass, there is nothing that you can do to restore the lens to its initial condition.

To prevent this from happening, you can buy a dedicated dry cabinet, like this one:



If you don't have the funds, putting a small light bulb inside a cabinet as suggested by Tom will do the job. It is better to supply half the nominal voltage of the light bulb (like supplying 12v to a 24v bulb) in order to make it emit more infrared and less visible light. A power wire wound resistor will also do the job.

Cheers!

Abbazz
04-21-2009, 07:26 AM   #7
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Rafa, your description sounds very much like fungus. Though I am surprised it developed that fast on the Sigma zoom, even in the mediterranean climate this is unusual.

The Takumar kann probably be cleaned easily by yourself, if you are confident about some basic mechanical abilities. Please search this forum for cleaning of fungus, as we had at least one or two quite detailled threads about this issue within the last six months. You will find a lot of advice in these threads.

The Sigma is more complicated, as it is a zoom and contains a lot of plastics, which makes disassembly and reassembly more difficulat and disaster prone. If it really just the front lens you could be lucky, that this can be removed by just unscrewing the name ring through the filter thread - but I do not know this lens myself.

For storage: If you life in a humid environment, store your lenses as open as possible and not inside a photo bag! Continuous airflow and exposure to light will help prevent fungal growth. A photo bag can be some kind of fungus paradise, so put the bag in the washing machine (ask LowePro whether this is possible with this bag) or clean it otherwise, without using hardcore chemicals (as these may damage the lenses later).

Yes, fungus can spread, as it produces spores. So isolate the infected lenses and don't use them on your camera, the spores will get into the camera and be transferred to the next lens.

Apart from taking apart the lenses for cleaning, you could remove both caps, wrap the rear of the lens with some aluminum kitchen foil and place them on the windo sill or somewhere els in the direct sunlight. The sun's UV light will kill the fungus. The aluminium foil reflects the light back into the lens, supporting the UV action AND will prevent damage to the window sill or table as the lens will act as a burning glass...

But even if the fungus has been killed (which takes several days or even weeks, depending on the sun radiation), you are left with the remnants of the fungus. This shouldn't be a problem with the Takumar, as you report only minor spots, but the Sigma zoom quite probably still needs cleaning.

Ben
04-22-2009, 07:27 AM   #8
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Thanks a lot everyone.

I'll follow your advices and try to fix this problem. I've taken some shots with the Sigma and, although the fungus are easily visible from outside, they don't appear in the photos, so luckily if I manage to kill it in the end it will not be as bad.

I've taken a look around in the net and I've found cheap mini dehumifiers (around 25$) that many people recommend for lenses. I've taken a look and it doesn't seem they sell them in Spain, so I'm thinking getting one online.

I'm very worried about the camera though, as I realised about the fungus in the Sigma as I was detaching it from the camera. Is it possible that the fungus will grow inside the camera, for instance in the CCD? I've already taken the lenses outside the bag, and put many silica gel bags around them. As well I'm thinking about getting a big dehumifier for my house, as in winter humidity is quite intense, getting humidity on the walls in my furniture.

I'll try to clean the Takumar with a special lens cloth and liquid.

Again, thanks to everyone for helping. I really appreciate it.
Any advice for the camera?

04-22-2009, 09:02 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rafalas Quote
Again, thanks to everyone for helping. I really appreciate it.
Any advice for the camera?
First and foremost, keep it dry. It would probably be wise, to keep it in a plastic box with some silica gel or the like - otherwise store it openly and not in the bag. That should be all you can do. Fungus in cameras is possible, but I guess, the danger is small, if you simply keep using and exercising it.

Ben
09-10-2009, 12:55 AM   #10
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Sorry to butt in on this, but is this image of my Sigma 28-300mm Hyperzoom a sign of fungus? I used my Nikon 990 in Macro mode to take this with a LED flashlight for illumination.

I like the lens and get some nice pitures with it, but the focus is a challenge at times. The focus ring has a very short travel (10-15 degrees) full range and makes the task harder on the AF system and me in MF mode.



Here are a few nice shots taken with this lens with my K100D Super. So I wonder if the issue is moot as I can get nice images like this despite the growth on the front elements...







Any input and/or advise is welcomed! I'm new here and learning a lot already! Both good and bad, but it's knowledge.

Chris

Last edited by J.Scott; 09-17-2009 at 07:01 AM. Reason: placed wide tags on images
09-10-2009, 01:25 AM   #11
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Hi Chris

Welcome at our nice community!

And yes, the lens looks like you have some real funghus spread. (Your images are nice, by the way). Funghus, as other contaminations with dust etc., won't show up in the final image, unless it is so severe, that it blocks about 20% of the lens area. Nevertheless I would certainly remove this spread, as firstly the funghus will keep growing and may spread to other lenses and secondly over a longer period the funghus may damage the coating and even etch the glass, which leaves irreparable damage.

Ben
09-10-2009, 08:05 AM   #12
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Out Spots! Out I Say!

Ben,

I was afraid of that. Now I still have to wonder how long it has been there and how much it has been spreading over time. I may be brave enough to try opening the front of the lens to clean this front element out, but need a backup automatic lens in case I mess things up.

I am pretty technology and mechanical savvy, but opening lenses is not on my resume's list of "skills" - Yet. There is always that first time!

The Nikon 990 that took the macro image is able to focus down to 0.8" and can allow manual focusing in fairly fine increments below 1" beyond using the auto focus. I have shot almost 18000 images with that camera. My first real Digital Camera.

I am trying to obtain a Pentax F or FA lens with a focal length range of around 35-105mm or 35-135mm by shopping ebay auctions. I wish there were other online options to find these older lenses. I need to frequent more camera shops and estate sales.

Thanks for the diagnosis confirmation. The current fungus spread is covering a good 30-40% of the lens area and is more prominent at the top of the lens as mounted on the camera. Sigh!

Chris
09-10-2009, 09:54 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by chrispwill Quote
Sorry to butt in on this, but is this image of my Sigma 28-300mm Hyperzoom a sign of fungus? I used my Nikon 990 in Macro mode to take this with a LED flashlight for illumination.
Chris
It's definitely fungus and did you know lens fungus is contagious? You have to keep that lens separately from your other lens/photo gear.
09-10-2009, 01:14 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by cbaytan Quote
It's definitely fungus and did you know lens fungus is contagious? You have to keep that lens separately from your other lens/photo gear.

I don't know if you are joking or not, but spores for fungus are EVERYWHERE. If you wanted to keep everything antiseptic, you'd have to store it all away at a temperture that'd keep all the "bugs" dead.

Every lens has the potential for fungus growth. It's up to each of us to keep them from landing and spreading and growing to something visible like the last photo showed. His other lenses are no more likely to "catch" than they were before.
09-10-2009, 01:19 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fixcinater Quote
I don't know if you are joking or not, but spores for fungus are EVERYWHERE. If you wanted to keep everything antiseptic, you'd have to store it all away at a temperture that'd keep all the "bugs" dead.

Every lens has the potential for fungus growth. It's up to each of us to keep them from landing and spreading and growing to something visible like the last photo showed. His other lenses are no more likely to "catch" than they were before.
You are correct, that spores are everywhere. Nevertheless, you'll get the advise to keep infected lenses separate from any repairmen and find it in those few books, which deal with camera repair, too. It is a sound precaution, to contain funghus spreading.

Not every funghus will grow on glass, so most spores floating freely around won't do any harm. But if a lens already contracted the "right" kind, it is simple common sense, to keep it separate from other lenses, I think.

Ben
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