A fungus is a living, growing microorganism; It is a combination of dust and moisture that enters the interior of the camera lens. Dust itself usually does not cause problems, but if this dust contains spores of the fungus and combines with moisture, the fungus will grow. Left unchecked, the growth of the fungus can permanently damage the glass elements in the lenses. This type of mold is most common in humid climates. It may look like small cobweb-like spots or spots inside the lens. Often the damage that it causes is minor, but the uncontrolled growth of fungi can ruin the lens.
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There are two types of fungus. One type grows in an oxygen-rich environment, the other, which is more problematic for photographers, grows in a small amount of oxygen. The second type is dangerous because it produces liquid acid. This acid destroys the lens and causes etching of the fungus as it grows on the lens coatings. Another problem for lenses is mold, which likes to grow in an environment with a relative humidity of more than 60%. As soon as the mold hits the lens cover, irreparable damage can already be done. Once this damage is discovered, dismantling and cleaning the lens and its optical elements can repair the damage if an indelible mark has not been left on the coating. Good lenses are usually very expensive, so it makes sense to take steps to protect them. This is especially important if the lens is used / stored in high humidity. A good first step is to buy a moisture meter. You may be surprised to find out how humid the place where you store your photographic equipment is.
Thus, fungal spores germinate under suitable environmental conditions:
- relative humidity of at least 70% for more than 3 days;
- little or no airflow;
- the presence of nutrients on the surface of the lens (textile pile, traces of grease, varnish, dust and dirt).
Cleaning the outside of the lens elements from the fungus can be relatively easy. However, you need to catch a moment before things get out of hand. Mold growth on the internal elements of the lens is more difficult to detect, and a qualified specialist is required to remove it. The lens needs to be removed, cleaned and then restored – this is an expensive process. Of course, preventing the growth of fungi on the lens is much preferable to removing mold that has already appeared. The fungus can permanently damage the lens because it eats up glass. After cleaning, grooves remain in the lens, and they affect how the light is refracted.
Methods for preventing fungus in the lens
Proper camera care is always a good practice. Well maintained equipment will last longer and retain a higher resale value. Here are some ideas to help you avoid the problem of fungal growth in your lenses.
Clean your lens often
Many photographers tend to clean only the front of their lenses or filters that are screwed to cover them.
Wipe the entire lens thoroughly with a damp microfiber cloth after using it. Especially if you took pictures in hot and humid climates. The atmosphere and sweat from your hands can affect the lens.
Using a microfiber cloth helps to prevent unwanted pile deposits on the lens. After you wipe the lens with a damp cloth, take a dry one with you to wipe it again. Using a hair dryer at a low temperature will also help evaporate moisture from the lens. Do not leave the lens in the sun to dry. This may cause other problems.
Store the lenses in a dry silica gel box.
Keep lenses in a sealed box. Of course, leaving all your equipment in the camera bag is convenient, but there it will be exposed to moisture. Silica gel will help absorb any residual moisture in the box. Small silica gel sachets are often found in consumer products, but this amount is not enough to be significant. Silica gel is better to buy separately in a store or online, in large quantities. It is convenient to use a type of gel that can be used more than once. After absorbing moisture, it changes color from blue to orange. Then it can be dried by placing it in the microwave for several minutes at medium power.
Moist and dry silica gel
A silica gel cup placed in an old or worn out pair of socks with a knot tied to it will help keep your equipment dry in a box. Make sure there are no holes in the toe.
For careful storage of lenses, food storage boxes with good seals will be useful. Dry the silica gel from time to time in the microwave. A more expensive and reliable option is shockproof sealed cases .
OffRoad ORT Dry 912 airtight box for small accessories orange 220x135x120 mm
OffRoad ORT Dry 912 (orange) is a small sealed case. Made of high quality plastic ABC with IP-67 protection class. Designed to protect various equipment from dust, moisture, shock during transportation and storage. The case has special eyes for fillings or small locks
Store your lenses in an air-conditioned room
If you have an air-conditioned room, this is a good place to store lenses and other camera equipment.
The air conditioner not only holds the air in the room, but also reduces its humidity. Ideally, the temperature in the room should not be too cold. If you live in a hot climate, problems can arise when you take your lenses outdoors. They will be clouded.
When the lens is very cold and then moves into a very warm environment, condensation can quickly form. You will have to wait for it to clear before you can take any photos.
Use an air dryer
This is a type of household appliance that draws water from the air. It will not cool the room, but will draw moisture out of the air. A few hours of air dryer operation per day in a small room in wet weather is usually enough to dry the air. They are often cheaper than air conditioning and portable and also consume less power.
Do not cover the lens with materials that retain moisture.
In a humid environment, do not cover the optics with plastic drapery covers (usually supplied by medical equipment manufacturers), as they retain moisture. If you need to cover dust protection equipment, use a fabric cover. Do not use containers made of leather, fabric or wood to store optics.
Caring for your precious lenses is worth it. Finding mold in your favorite lens is like breaking your heart. And investing in a suitable storage solution can be much cheaper than the cost of cleaning the lens.
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