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Pandemic Surprise! My lenses have fungus.


QuickHitRecord
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I was looking at one of my beloved Kern Switars yesterday evening and noticed a little string of fungus in it. I haven't been using them as much since my professional work has robbed me of any time for passion projects as of late. The pandemic hasn't helped either.

Anyway, I looked at a few more lenses and saw more more fungus. I ripped my whole lens drawer apart, and found that I have confirmed or suspected fungus on FOURTEEN of my lenses. I need to go back, wipe the front and rear elements down with some pancro, and look at them again when I am not in such a panicked state. But yeah, it's bad. Duclos-modded Nikkor AIS lenses, Tokina AT-X 28-70 2.8, Lumix 12-60mm, and even my backup Canon EF-S zooms (including the 70-200 f4 IS). This is pretty much my perfect nightmare scenario; something I have been extremely careful to avoid since I started building my collection 14 years ago. The silver lining is that it hasn't reached my Sigma Art Primes or Canon L Zooms that I use for work (I keep them in my camera case). I am SO glad that I never got around to building a set of Leica Rs or OKS in Oct-19 mount. And after this experience, I don't think I ever will.

How did this happen? I have a theory. I bought maybe my third copy of the Helios-44 from Ukrainian seller in 2020. I inspected it closely for fungus as I always do and didn't see any traces. Then the pandemic began, and I really didn't touch my lenses for about a year (nothing to shoot). When I finally did pick up the Helios again, I noticed that it had a contamination. I isolated it and sold it for next to nothing to someone who wanted to try to clean it. That's the only time I'd seen fungus grow in a lens while in my possession, so my theory is that a previous owner had cleaned it, and then the fungus came back and infected my other lenses. But that's all speculation.

The other thing is that we don't have an exhaust fan in the bathroom here. In the winter, we wake up most mornings to find the windows largely fogged over. There's a lot of moisture in the air here, especially when we can't leave the windows open.

So, what's next? I'm trying to figure that part out. From what I can tell, the fungus hasn't advanced very far on any of these lenses, so I doubt they will affect the image quality if I can kill it before it grows. I've spent the day learning about ozone-free UVC lights so that I can start zapping all of my lenses regularly. I'm also leaning towards investing in a dry cabinet (anyone else use one of these?). But if I do that, I'll need to figure out the size needed, whether I also need to store my camera bodies in it (the Red One will be fun) and where it's going to go in my little office. I may also try to disassemble and clean some of the lenses myself, though previous attempts have yielded very mixed results, including discarding of lenses that I could never figure out how to re-assemble properly.

Part of me just wants to dump them into a big pile and douse them with gasoline. What can I say? It's been a pretty dark 24 hours for me. But, I keep reminding myself that it is just stuff and I lived a pretty normal life without ever picking it up for a year or longer.

Anyway, if you have any suggestions, ideas, or past experiences you'd like to share, let's hear them!

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I have often thought about buying a set of lens spanners and some Really good small screwdrivers and buy some of the contaminated lenses online that sell for pennies on the dollar. Sure, you can't fix the elements that are glued together but.

So maybe you can salvage a few instead of nearly giving them away. I like you are not going to try and trick someone into buying a bad lens. Nothing wrong in learning a few new skills.

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i bought a  cheap takumar m42 for just this purpose. already have the lens wrench / spanner thingy. I'm yet to have at it and other things keep getting in the way. I have disassembled a zoom at the back end. As soon as i got the screws out and gave it a twist something went sproing and i heard it as well at that point i knew i was in trouble 😨 no amount of fiddling has managed to get it back together. Lucky it was a cheap zoom, so no great loss. It sits on my shelf as a reminder about biting off more than one can chew.

I'd still have a crack at another lens but make it a prime. I'd  also video the whole disassembly as my attention span is pretty short, there's no guarantee it would reassemble in the proper order otherwise.

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5 hours ago, QuickHitRecord said:

I was looking at one of my beloved Kern Switars yesterday evening and noticed a little string of fungus in it. I haven't been using them as much since my professional work has robbed me of any time for passion projects as of late. The pandemic hasn't helped either.

Anyway, I looked at a few more lenses and saw more more fungus. I ripped my whole lens drawer apart, and found that I have confirmed or suspected fungus on FOURTEEN of my lenses. I need to go back, wipe the front and rear elements down with some pancro, and look at them again when I am not in such a panicked state. But yeah, it's bad. Duclos-modded Nikkor AIS lenses, Tokina AT-X 28-70 2.8, Lumix 12-60mm, and even my backup Canon EF-S zooms (including the 70-200 f4 IS). This is pretty much my perfect nightmare scenario; something I have been extremely careful to avoid since I started building my collection 14 years ago. The silver lining is that it hasn't reached my Sigma Art Primes or Canon L Zooms that I use for work (I keep them in my camera case). I am SO glad that I never got around to building a set of Leica Rs or OKS in Oct-19 mount. And after this experience, I don't think I ever will.

How did this happen? I have a theory. I bought maybe my third copy of the Helios-44 from Ukrainian seller in 2020. I inspected it closely for fungus as I always do and didn't see any traces. Then the pandemic began, and I really didn't touch my lenses for about a year (nothing to shoot). When I finally did pick up the Helios again, I noticed that it had a contamination. I isolated it and sold it for next to nothing to someone who wanted to try to clean it. That's the only time I'd seen fungus grow in a lens while in my possession, so my theory is that a previous owner had cleaned it, and then the fungus came back and infected my other lenses. But that's all speculation.

The other thing is that we don't have an exhaust fan in the bathroom here. In the winter, we wake up most mornings to find the windows largely fogged over. There's a lot of moisture in the air here, especially when we can't leave the windows open.

So, what's next? I'm trying to figure that part out. From what I can tell, the fungus hasn't advanced very far on any of these lenses, so I doubt they will affect the image quality if I can kill it before it grows. I've spent the day learning about ozone-free UVC lights so that I can start zapping all of my lenses regularly. I'm also leaning towards investing in a dry cabinet (anyone else use one of these?). But if I do that, I'll need to figure out the size needed, whether I also need to store my camera bodies in it (the Red One will be fun) and where it's going to go in my little office. I may also try to disassemble and clean some of the lenses myself, though previous attempts have yielded very mixed results, including discarding of lenses that I could never figure out how to re-assemble properly.

Part of me just wants to dump them into a big pile and douse them with gasoline. What can I say? It's been a pretty dark 24 hours for me. But, I keep reminding myself that it is just stuff and I lived a pretty normal life without ever picking it up for a year or longer.

Anyway, if you have any suggestions, ideas, or past experiences you'd like to share, let's hear them!

Sorry to hear it.

There is so much misinformation about fungus online that it's practically impossible to get good information.  I caution you against the, likely inevitable, wrong replies you will receive in this thread.

To that end, don't listen to what I have to say either - get information from trusted sources.

I'd suggest this page from Zeiss: https://www.zeiss.com/consumer-products/us/service/content/fungus-on-lenses.html

Here are some interesting bits from that page, which I've highlighted in bold:

Quote

Where does fungus come from?

Fungus spores are everywhere and germinate under suitable environmental conditions:

Growing condition
Relative humidity of at least 70% (more than 3 days)
No or little airflow
Darkness
Nutrients (textile lint, traces of grease, varnish, dust and dirt)
Temperatures between 10 and 35°C


How can fungus be avoided?

Reduce the relative humidity to less than 60% (never under 30% as it is dangerous for the instrument) by storing:

in climate-control cabinets in which hygrometers maintain environmental conditions
next to driers (e.g. silicagel orange packs) in the containers
in a special cabinet whose interior is heated to 40°C (max. 50°C) using a fan heater/ incandescent lamps, thereby reducing the relative humidity
in hermetically sealed cabinets with fungicides with high vapor pressure (fungicide depot must be replaced at regular intervals)
in an dehydrator above driers

After the work is done, Immediately clean the instruments. If possible, you can use a fan to facilitate evaporation of surface moisture. Do not use containers made of leather, textiles or wood for storage. Short solar radiation or irradiation with UV light may also help avoiding fungus.

Fungus is everywhere.  Humidity is normally the issue.

The Sony page is also useful: https://www.sony.com/electronics/support/articles/00062800

I've bought and cleaned a number of vintage lenses, some with fungus and some without.  

Depending on how long the fungus has been in your lenses, there might still be minimal damage.  At first they just grow on the surface, which doesn't really do any harm at all.  Left longer they can damage coatings, which wouldn't have a huge optical effect, especially if on elements further away from the sensor (which are much more out of focus).  Eventually they eat into the glass, which is the most severe, but this may very well take years or decades.

I would suggest evaluating each lens by stopping it all the way down and taking pictures of a blank surface (like a wall or ceiling) and seeing if there are any spots visible.  You'd be amazed at how disgusting a lens can appear but yet how unaffected the images from it can be.

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Thanks for the replies, and for the good resources from @Kye. There is a lot of information online about lens fungus and some of it is conflicting. I'll share some of what I've learned too. But first, an update.

After cleaning my lenses and looking at them again with a cooler head, I see only four that definitely, beyond a doubt fungus. And I see about five that fit into, "is it dust, or strands of fungus"? I need to keep a close eye on them. The rest, I believe, are just the result of some gnarly-looking dust particles.

A few observations:

1) A long strand isn't necessarily fungus. It could be dust. I removed plenty of these with my blower.

2) When staring through a backlit lens, specular highlights (i.e. specs and dust) can expand into very convincing little spiderwebs if they are beyond your focal plane. It is quite a remarkable illusion. I think the trick is to move the lens toward (or away from) you until the dot is in focus. Then, a lot of the time, you'll see it's just a tiny dot, without any offshoots.

3) To build on #2, if you can't see actual fungus from back or front with a flashlight, then I think you can safely assume that the lens is free of fungus.

4) Though they are the industry standard, Kimwipes can actually leave individual fibers behind on the lens that can look an awful lot like the beginnings of fungus. Make liberal use of a blower after wiping with them. In some cases, I wiped the lens again while looking through it just to see if the mass I was staring at was inside the lens or not (oftentimes it isn't).

5) UVC lights can kill mold and fungus (and your retinas if you're not careful). Examples here and here. It is much stronger than UV (A) and UVB light. UVC lights also seem to be completely unregulated and as a result of the pandemic, there seem to be quite a few fakes out there. Here is one that I ordered that seems to be legit. I plan to start treating all of my lenses regularly.

6) I will be getting a dry cabinet. As pointed out in the Zeiss article that @Kye shared earlier in the thread, spores are everywhere and there are three factors that contribute to lens fungus: dust, heat, and humidity. The first is extremely difficult to control and the second might be quite expensive. So the best answer is to control the humidity.

And a thought. Maybe shooting without UV filters would be more beneficial to the health of the lens, since they wouldn't block fungus-killing UV rays.

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It happened to me once with a few lenses that I had stored for 6 months in a basement in Berlin.

Just one week before I was due to come back and clear it out, there was a big storm and some water got into the basement.

It only took a few days of moist atmosphere to set the fungus going in 4 or 5 unfortunate lenses.

So absolutely keep lenses in as dry a place as possible!

Interested to see how you go about fixing it, I'll be looking at doing the same to mine as not had the opportunity to do much about them since.

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13 hours ago, QuickHitRecord said:

Thanks for the replies, and for the good resources from @Kye. There is a lot of information online about lens fungus and some of it is conflicting. I'll share some of what I've learned too. But first, an update.

After cleaning my lenses and looking at them again with a cooler head, I see only four that definitely, beyond a doubt fungus. And I see about five that fit into, "is it dust, or strands of fungus"? I need to keep a close eye on them. The rest, I believe, are just the result of some gnarly-looking dust particles.

A few observations:

1) A long strand isn't necessarily fungus. It could be dust. I removed plenty of these with my blower.

2) When staring through a backlit lens, specular highlights (i.e. specs and dust) can expand into very convincing little spiderwebs if they are beyond your focal plane. It is quite a remarkable illusion. I think the trick is to move the lens toward (or away from) you until the dot is in focus. Then, a lot of the time, you'll see it's just a tiny dot, without any offshoots.

3) To build on #2, if you can't see actual fungus from back or front with a flashlight, then I think you can safely assume that the lens is free of fungus.

4) Though they are the industry standard, Kimwipes can actually leave individual fibers behind on the lens that can look an awful lot like the beginnings of fungus. Make liberal use of a blower after wiping with them. In some cases, I wiped the lens again while looking through it just to see if the mass I was staring at was inside the lens or not (oftentimes it isn't).

5) UVC lights can kill mold and fungus (and your retinas if you're not careful). Examples here and here. It is much stronger than UV (A) and UVB light. UVC lights also seem to be completely unregulated and as a result of the pandemic, there seem to be quite a few fakes out there. Here is one that I ordered that seems to be legit. I plan to start treating all of my lenses regularly.

6) I will be getting a dry cabinet. As pointed out in the Zeiss article that @Kye shared earlier in the thread, spores are everywhere and there are three factors that contribute to lens fungus: dust, heat, and humidity. The first is extremely difficult to control and the second might be quite expensive. So the best answer is to control the humidity.

And a thought. Maybe shooting without UV filters would be more beneficial to the health of the lens, since they wouldn't block fungus-killing UV rays.

Yeah, when I first started buying vintage lenses (and I was buying the suuuuper cheap eBay ones) I shone a light through a lens for the first time and just about had a heart attack.  It wasn't until I shone a light through some other lenses that were fine that I realised that basically all lenses look like a garbage dump when looked at with that kind of scrutiny, but probably give images that are fine.

Interesting about the little spiderweb illusions from bright light, I think I have seen these before too.  I suspect it's something to do with the water in your eyes?  I remember blinking and that having an effect on them, but maybe I'm mis-remembering.

8 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

It happened to me once with a few lenses that I had stored for 6 months in a basement in Berlin.

Just one week before I was due to come back and clear it out, there was a big storm and some water got into the basement.

It only took a few days of moist atmosphere to set the fungus going in 4 or 5 unfortunate lenses.

So absolutely keep lenses in as dry a place as possible!

Interested to see how you go about fixing it, I'll be looking at doing the same to mine as not had the opportunity to do much about them since.

Only a few days?  That's incredibly fast!

7 hours ago, Video Hummus said:

Sorry to hear this. Seems like one of these:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1348544-REG/ruggard_edc_50l_electronic_dry_cabinet_50l.html/overview

Would be a good investment for collector lenses or equipment. I'm sure you could make something yourself for like $10.

The first thing I'd suggest that anyone buy is a combo thermometer / hygrometer so you can see temp and humidity.  In my case where I live is very dry so I was fine and I just store lenses normally in a drawer or on a shelf, so no cause for extra equipment.  

You also want to make sure you don't under-humidify them, as the articles are very specific about that being bad for the lenses.  I think things start to dry out in the lens?  But it's best to be able to see what you're doing so you don't go too far one way or the other.

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I've thankfully been in a rather dry environment and luckily kept my lenses in a clear storage case so if I'm tackling fungus it's because it was there in the lenses I bought online or locally in antique shops and occasionally a flea market or garage sale. If you look at my Instagram @zackbirlew you'll see some lenses I've taken apart and cleaned as well as my slip ups that led to damaged glass and broken lenses, thankfully not too many!

My strategy is to keep each lens individually contained in a clear container with a push in locking seal or a clear screw top tupperware container (Ziploc brand or equal) with a silica gel packet. This helps isolate the lens from others and keeps it sealed dry with the clear case letting in enough light to scare off fungus. However, DIY lens cleaning is an entire skillset and research heavy practice that needs to be developed and you'll still run into lenses that are a shot in the dark as to whether you'll be able to take them apart and fix them back together properly. It's also an investment since you need to figure out all the tools and certain techniques and gotchya tricks involved but it is amazingly fun to do once you get going!

This past year I've taken in a camera collection on top of my own and there may be another one coming from a family friend so I have A TON of lenses that need cleaning and maintenance as a lot of them are fungus infected or just dirty with dust from use and I'm going to be filming each lens cleaning and, if necessary, repair as I go through them. I'm currently trying to wrap up VFX post production on my first feature which has taken forever to get off the ground, long story, but the lens videos will be one of my weekend projects for the Babs Do Productions Youtube channel going forward.

One thing to note is that you don't always need to take the lens apart to get the glass out, normally a lens spanner or rubber lens wrench will be able to remove retaining rings around the glass so you can get at the glass elements and the aperture blades if they need a wipe. Also, certain lenses simply require just the few screws of the lens mount ring taken off and others require a certain number of things to be taken off or even twisted apart, it just depends but I can say that older manual lenses are the easiest to do as they tend to be metal tubes holding glass and retaining rings in place. Most importantly, get some of those soft rubber or foam bead shelf liner rolls at the hardware or decorating store to lay down while you work on lenses as lens glass likes to slip out of your fingers and you don't want them falling onto and hitting or rolling off the table.

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Another thing worth noting, there's this line of logic that somehow "fungus is infectious".  You hear this thinking when people talk about "getting rid of" the fungus, "keep the lens isolated", "prevent it from spreading".

This is false.

The Zeiss page I linked to earlier said that fungus is everywhere.  They were downplaying it.

Quote

On average, there are between 1,000 and 10,000 fungal spores in every cubic meter of air.

Source: https://www.uni-mainz.de/presse/13180_ENG_HTML.php

Fungus is already in your lens.

Lenses are probably assembled in a clean room, but any part of the lens that isn't completely sealed will soon get fungus into it.  Lots of lenses expand when focusing, which pulls in air.  If there's 1000 spores in every cubic meter of air then even one focus motion will pull multiple spores into your lens.

The reason it's not a problem most of the time is because it's not growing.

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18 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

It happened to me once with a few lenses that I had stored for 6 months in a basement in Berlin.

Yikes. Sorry to hear it. This site was one of the first that pushed me to look beyond Canon EF and EF-S lenses. I'm certainly glad I did, pitfalls and all.

9 hours ago, kye said:

Interesting about the little spiderweb illusions from bright light, I think I have seen these before too.  I suspect it's something to do with the water in your eyes?  I remember blinking and that having an effect on them, but maybe I'm mis-remembering.

I think that's exactly what it is! I really messes with your head when you're looking for an infestation.

7 hours ago, kye said:

Lenses are probably assembled in a clean room, but any part of the lens that isn't completely sealed will soon get fungus into it.  Lots of lenses expand when focusing, which pulls in air.  If there's 1000 spores in every cubic meter of air then even one focus motion will pull multiple spores into your lens.

This is absolutely right. Every lens is already infected. You just have to keep them dry enough so as not to let the fungus run rampant.

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I've been doing some more research. It turns out that UVC light cannot typically penetrate the glass of a lens, so the 254nm UV source like the light I ordered will kill surface microorganisms but won't be able to get inside of the lens. I've read that the ideal UV wavelength range you want is in the 300nm - 330nm range, which I think may put it in the UVB range (I could be getting this wrong).

The filter company B+W owned by Schneider put out a product called the UV-Pro a couple years ago, which is allegedly a 300nm source. But it never went on sale on B&H or most of the other major retailers, and there's no info about it on the Schneider website. Maybe it was a flawed concept that was quietly killed, or Schneider was too concerned about the liability of people blinding themselves or trying to cure themselves of Covid that they decided to discontinue it. Either way, it looks like it can still be purchased on eBay or DigitalRev.

Here is a test that doesn't tell you much about the tool's ability to penetrate lens elements:

What I'd really like to see is a lens with fungus opened, swabbed, UV treated, and then opened again for a second swab. That really would tell us everything we need to know.

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16 minutes ago, QuickHitRecord said:

I've been doing some more research. It turns out that UVC light cannot typically penetrate the glass of a lens, so the 254nm UV source like the light I ordered will kill surface microorganisms but won't be able to get inside of the lens. I've read that the ideal UV wavelength range you want is in the 300nm - 330nm range, which I think may put it in the UVB range (I could be getting this wrong).

The filter company B+W owned by Schneider put out a product called the UV-Pro a couple years ago, which is allegedly a 300nm source. But it never went on sale on B&H or most of the other major retailers, and there's no info about it on the Schneider website. Maybe it was a flawed concept that was quietly killed, or Schneider was too concerned about the liability of people blinding themselves or trying to cure themselves of Covid that they decided to discontinue it. Either way, it looks like it can still be purchased on eBay or DigitalRev.

Here is a test that doesn't tell you much about the tool's ability to penetrate lens elements:

What I'd really like to see is a lens with fungus opened, swabbed, UV treated, and then opened again for a second swab. That really would tell us everything we need to know.

If you really want to go down the rabbit hole, I'd suggest searching in scientific resources that deal with the biology of fungus itself.  It may well be too complicated a topic, based on the vast array of fungus varieties/species/strains?? and how they're likely to be very different, but it's worthwhile going to the right sources.

I figured that the key was making sure the humidity was low enough to stop it from growing, and then just to remove any clumps that were visible (IIRC none were visible in the images) so it was more for piece of mind.  My fungus lenses were all cheap eBay ones, so I just pulled them apart and cleaned them as best as I could, using some dish soap, some distilled water, and some cotton tips and a blower.

I'm absolutely not an expert, far from it, but this thread of mine might be useful..  if even just to make you feel better 🙂

 

I posted a number of pics in there from my lenses.  I'd imagine they're worse than yours, but funnily enough were still optically fine.

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Good thread, Kye! Did you continue to experiment with disassembly?

Someone posted over on MFLensess:

Quote

... below 65% RH spores don't germinate, below 55% RH already growing fungus goes dormant

With that in mind, I bought an inexpensive but highly-rated hygrometer. The maximum humidity over the last 24 hours or so is 47%. I'll keep an eye on it but perhaps a dry cabinet is not necessary here.

Last night, I did a partial assembly of my Kern Switar 10mm 1.6, which was my favorite lens to become infected. Following a YouTube teardown, I carefully removed all of the elements, putting everything into an ice tray to help me with sequencing. When I got to the element with the "fungus", I was surprised to see that it looked like a very long piece of fuzz. It was probably an inch long in total. The end of us it was sticking straight up at me, as if the element had been holding it down. To remove it, I used a pair of tweezers and just pulled straight up. It came up in one piece! There were also two other similar pieces, though they were shorter. I'm not even sure that this was fungus after all. Maybe just some nasty dust? In any case, it needed to come out because even if it wasn't fungus, it could have become a food source for some. After the removal, I blasted the assembly with my UVC light for 5 minutes and then reassembled.

Everything went so well that I decided to try to do the same with an old Kino Precision lens. There was no video for this one but I decided to see if I could figure it out. Bad idea. The rear element group came tumbling out all at once, and I have no idea of the original orientation of the elements. Also, I got all the way down to the aperture blades, and then when I tried to reassemble it and add the layer back in over top of the blades, it messed them up. I could never get them to sit properly again. This is maybe the third lens this has happened with and I felt bad about it. But then again, we're talking about an infested lens with a stuck focus that I bought for $20. It's not like it had a long life ahead of it.

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3 hours ago, QuickHitRecord said:

Good thread, Kye! Did you continue to experiment with disassembly?

That was a long time ago, but IIRC I cleaned all the lenses that really needed it, and all the lenses are in tact, so..  I think so? 🙂 

3 hours ago, QuickHitRecord said:

Good thread, Kye! Did you continue to experiment with disassembly?

Someone posted over on MFLensess:

Quote

... below 65% RH spores don't germinate, below 55% RH already growing fungus goes dormant

With that in mind, I bought an inexpensive but highly-rated hygrometer. The maximum humidity over the last 24 hours or so is 47%. I'll keep an eye on it but perhaps a dry cabinet is not necessary here.

This is my approach.  I cleaned the lenses that had stuff in the optical path (fungus, dirt, grease, whatever) and then just made sure that any remaining fungus wouldn't continue to grow.

One thing that comes to mind as a cheaper solution is to make a DIY "dry-ish cabinet".  Simply get a container / cupboard / something that mostly seals and then put something into it that will keep the humidity in it lower than the threshold.  I was thinking that perhaps rice might be a good material to act as a de-humidifier.  If you put a few kg's in a cloth bag, or an oven baking tray, etc, then you could put it in the bottom of the cabinet where it will gradually absorb the humidity in the cabinet.  Once it saturates, you could dry it out again by putting it near a heat source for a few hours to re-charge it.  Maybe an oven on the lowest setting (many ovens will go down to below boiling point).
Of course you'd have to keep an eye on the humidity every few days etc.

3 hours ago, QuickHitRecord said:

Last night, I did a partial assembly of my Kern Switar 10mm 1.6, which was my favorite lens to become infected. Following a YouTube teardown, I carefully removed all of the elements, putting everything into an ice tray to help me with sequencing. When I got to the element with the "fungus", I was surprised to see that it looked like a very long piece of fuzz. It was probably an inch long in total. The end of us it was sticking straight up at me, as if the element had been holding it down. To remove it, I used a pair of tweezers and just pulled straight up. It came up in one piece! There were also two other similar pieces, though they were shorter. I'm not even sure that this was fungus after all. Maybe just some nasty dust? In any case, it needed to come out because even if it wasn't fungus, it could have become a food source for some. After the removal, I blasted the assembly with my UVC light for 5 minutes and then reassembled.

Everything went so well that I decided to try to do the same with an old Kino Precision lens. There was no video for this one but I decided to see if I could figure it out. Bad idea. The rear element group came tumbling out all at once, and I have no idea of the original orientation of the elements. Also, I got all the way down to the aperture blades, and then when I tried to reassemble it and add the layer back in over top of the blades, it messed them up. I could never get them to sit properly again. This is maybe the third lens this has happened with and I felt bad about it. But then again, we're talking about an infested lens with a stuck focus that I bought for $20. It's not like it had a long life ahead of it.

I very much doubt that the long fuzz was something else - how would it have gotten into the lens?  Small particles might have gotten there from hundreds of focus adjustments and the lens being rotated this was and then that way, but something that was pressed into the shape of the lens wouldn't have fallen or been blown into the mechanism, especially if it was being pressed against the sides of the chamber it was in.

Good to hear that you cleaned it and got it back together, and bummer to hear about the other lens that you didn't manage to.  

Many of the lenses that I bought didn't have any videos / articles available on how to tear down, and some of them I didn't fully dismantle.  Often you could pull a group out of the lens and the group would be fine, so no point in taking that apart unless there was stuff inside it.  For those I'd clean the outer elements and if it looked OK I'd just put it back.

When you see teardowns from people that really know what they're doing you might notice that they take detailed records when disassembling, will put marks on parts to show the rotation and orientation of various parts, etc.  I tried to do that, and occasionally had to refer back to reference something or other.  There's definitely an art to it.

I mostly avoided removing aperture mechanisms, and on some lenses I put them back together again and had parts left over.  They all worked fine afterwards though, which was a bit surprising!  Those aperture mechanisms sure are complicated and extremely fiddly.

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Always feared it, but proper dry cabinets are extermely expensive here. Gone to found some cheaper solution.

First, tried convert an old cabinet as a dry one. Dry cabinets are sealed(ish) cabinets with some kind of Peltier cooler in reverse - it condenses the humidity and send the water to the outside. My home solution was to buy a small home dehumidifier, put inside a sealed(ish) cabinet with a humidor-controlled relay to turn on and off the dehumidifier (as stated in the Zeiss article, if the humidity drops below 30% it is bad for the lenses - greases start to solidify).

Kinda worked, but was not reliable.

The final solution was much more simple:

- Bought a bunch of sealed plastic food containers (kinda like this one - the important parts are the rubber seal and latches on the lid);
- Cheap digital higrometers, one for each box;
- A huge bag of silica gel (don't know if it is urban legend or not, but bought the orange colored ones - the blue ones have cobalt, and some say that when heated, to remove the humidity when saturated, releases carcinogen fumes);
- A set of little organza bags.

Put the cameras / lenses in one box, an organza bag filled with silica gel and an hygrometer inside the box, and close it. The hygrometer goes to around 40-45% of humidity, and if you don't open the box very often, stays under 60% for months. When it reaches 60%, change the silica of the organza bag (the silica could be heated and retores to the original state).

For me, have worked VERY well - never a single case of fungus, and very little maintenence (and cost).

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1 hour ago, Marcio Kabke Pinheiro said:

Always feared it, but proper dry cabinets are extermely expensive here. Gone to found some cheaper solution.

First, tried convert an old cabinet as a dry one. Dry cabinets are sealed(ish) cabinets with some kind of Peltier cooler in reverse - it condenses the humidity and send the water to the outside. My home solution was to buy a small home dehumidifier, put inside a sealed(ish) cabinet with a humidor-controlled relay to turn on and off the dehumidifier (as stated in the Zeiss article, if the humidity drops below 30% it is bad for the lenses - greases start to solidify).

Kinda worked, but was not reliable.

The final solution was much more simple:

- Bought a bunch of sealed plastic food containers (kinda like this one - the important parts are the rubber seal and latches on the lid);
- Cheap digital higrometers, one for each box;
- A huge bag of silica gel (don't know if it is urban legend or not, but bought the orange colored ones - the blue ones have cobalt, and some say that when heated, to remove the humidity when saturated, releases carcinogen fumes);
- A set of little organza bags.

Put the cameras / lenses in one box, an organza bag filled with silica gel and an hygrometer inside the box, and close it. The hygrometer goes to around 40-45% of humidity, and if you don't open the box very often, stays under 60% for months. When it reaches 60%, change the silica of the organza bag (the silica could be heated and retores to the original state).

For me, have worked VERY well - never a single case of fungus, and very little maintenence (and cost).

Interesting.  I would have thought that the silica gel would have made the container too dry, but apparently not.

Seems like a good solution, and worth trying if humidity is a problem.

I wonder if silica gel can be dried and reused?  Maybe by putting it out in the sun on a hot day, or something similar?

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23 hours ago, kye said:

Interesting.  I would have thought that the silica gel would have made the container too dry, but apparently not.

Seems like a good solution, and worth trying if humidity is a problem.

I wonder if silica gel can be dried and reused?  Maybe by putting it out in the sun on a hot day, or something similar?

I have big silica bags (1kg) I'm my gear closet. 

I usually reused every 1 or 2 month following the manufacturer instructions:

Microwave at 800watts during 15min, turn upside down and another 15min. 

 

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