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02-21-2014, 01:03 PM   #1
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Using legacy lens during gust/snow

Odd newbish question. I was using some m42 lenses today after the snow storm, but there was still some heavy gust/winds that constantly blew snow flakes onto my face/camera. I noticed that due to the cold, the focus ring got a bit stiffer, but would there be any issues down the road if I were to continue having the lenses exposed to a bit of snow when it's windy out? I.e. eventual cause of fungus?

02-21-2014, 02:09 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Remember that the camera isn't weather sealed if the lens isn't weather sealed. You might want to put a fat rubber band or something around the base of the lens to help keep snow from getting through the lens mount.

And it probably can't hurt to store the lenses with some silica gel or some other desiccant when you're not using them, to keep them dry enough that fungus is a non-issue.
02-21-2014, 02:23 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Getting your lenses wet is never a good idea. Not so bad if the wetness stays outside the lens. But humidity will always find its way in. Make sure to store them in a container with a generous quantity of Silica Packs (water absorbent). There is a whole whack of threads talking about lens storage and such. As for the stiffness, it's probably the temperature. When it's below freezing shit is gonna happen. I had my K5 refusing to focus one day using a non WR lens, I switched to manual and I couldn't even turn the focus ring, just as if it froze in place, same story for the zoom ring. It was probably some metal pieces inside the lens that shrunk because of the cold.

Humidity and darkness (and nice cozy temperature) will cause fungus. Especially with an older lens which might already have accumulated all sorts of particles inside. You may also end up with moisture trapped inside the lens.

You don't have to stop doing, just make sure to dry out (silica) your lens afterward. Or get a WR
02-21-2014, 03:47 PM - 1 Like   #4
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You have two issues:
  • When mounted, many M42 lenses leave a gap exposing the body contacts. This creates a fairly direct route for water to get into the body. There is some risk with non-sealed K-mount lenses, but much more with many M42.
  • The lens itself might be damaged from exposure to the elements
Of the two, I would consider the first to be the more serious. In regards to the second, it has been my experience after using that class of gear for the last 44 years that most vintage primes (and many zooms) are surprisingly good at resisting moisture and dust incursion due to the nature of how they are made. So, what to do?
  • Take reasonable care when conditions are harsh. If the grit is in your eyes and teeth, it is best to leave the vintage gear in the bag. Similarly, it is best to keep the camera/lens out of direct rain/spray. Loose-fitting rain gear and/or umbrellas (with an assistant) are useful.
  • The rare snowflake is not a cause for concern
  • Use a lens hood to keep snow/rain off the front element
  • Wipe the lens barrel clear of moisture/dust after the shoot before it gets a chance to get inside
In regards to cold, the main issues are the same as for modern gear: thickened lubricants and condensation. Keep in mind that your lenses (modern or vintage) were not designed to be used under extremes of cold or heat. A good rule of thumb is that if it is cold enough to kill you, it is probably too cold for your gear. Condensation is a more difficult thing. Consider these two cases:
  • Camera and lens have been in the nice warm ski lodge where humidity is fairly high due to moisture from drying clothes and tracked in snow. This moisture can and will enter both camera and lens.* Now take the camera out into the -10 C cold. As the camera cools, the moisture deposits on the inside and rear elements of the lens as well as the camera's innards. Not good.
  • Camera and lens have been in the very cold and dry -10 C outside and have just been carried into the warmer, but very humid ski lodge. The result is instant fog on all outer surfaces and as the moisture intrudes, many inner surfaces as well.
There are multiple similar scenarios involving moisture and warm vs. cold temperatures. So, what to do? I have a few friends who are working pros that specialize in wildlife photography. The have made it their practice to bag their gear in zip-lock bags before going inside and to avoid opening the bags in a humid room.


Steve

* This is the case even with WR gear. Eventually the inside environment will come to be similar to the outside environment. Remember, we are dealing with gaseous water.

02-21-2014, 05:39 PM   #5
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Hey. Thanks for the informative posts and advice everyone. It puts my paranoia at ease, but at the same time makes it go a bit off.
It was just very windy, with the occasional snow flakes blowing towards my face/camera, but I tried to shield the camera each time I saw it coming. So I hope that some fungi won't occur. Once again, thank you and I'll be out to buy some gel and do some preventative measures from now on.

@stevebrot : I especially liked this bit. I'm hoping to get into nature/wild-life photography, so this sounds quite nice to me. But just a quick question; once they bag the lens, would they just wait for the bag/lens to warm up to room temperature before opening?

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
You have two issues:There are multiple similar scenarios involving moisture and warm vs. cold temperatures. So, what to do? I have a few friends who are working pros that specialize in wildlife photography. The have made it their practice to bag their gear in zip-lock bags before going inside and to avoid opening the bags in a humid room.


Steve
02-21-2014, 06:07 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by NomNamNom Quote
would they just wait for the bag/lens to warm up to room temperature before opening?
Yep, pretty much or just keep them in the bags until the next time they went out. The main thing is to protect the gear from the high humidity coupled with rapid change in temperature.


Steve
02-21-2014, 06:12 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Yep, pretty much or just keep them in the bags until the next time they went out. The main thing is to protect the gear from the high humidity coupled with rapid change in temperature.


Steve
Excellent, thanks! I will now also carry a box of ziplocks with me.
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