Lens fungus question

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by suhaskulkarni, Feb 12, 2006.

  1. Hi

    My canon 100/2.8 USM macro lens caught fungus, which is quite severe.
    The lens elements are not affected yet but the fungus has grown
    totally inside.

    I asked local shop (Melbourne - Australia) and they said that I have
    to send the lens for inspection which will cost me $44 for inspection
    alone! I asked what is estimated cost for repair - they gave no
    figure at all. I am afraid if I send the lens for inspection and if
    they quote something like $300 / $350 for lens cleaning then I will
    not be interested in getting it done and so my $44 will be lost and
    my lens will still remain in bad condition.

    So, just want to ask - what is estimate to clean lens fungus? Can I
    just stop fungus growth and use the lens as it is (it does not seem
    to affect picture quality in normal distances)? If so what is the way
    to stop the fungus growth?

  2. I might be perpetuating a rumor, but I've heard that if you leave the lens in the direct sun for a while it will dry out and kill the fungus. Being a biologist, it seems plausible. It should keep it from getting worse, and will probably make it a bit clearer.

    I could be completely wrong, as I've never had to try it.
  3. Ryan, I think I have heard that leaving a lens out in the hot sun can damage the lens by causing libricants to leave their normal "homes" and get into places they don't belong. If one were to try this, and I don't personally recommend it, I would suggest doing it on a cold day, and make sure you take the UV filter off (if there is one) because it is likely that the UV is what would be killing the fungus. Does UV kill fungus? I know it is used against bacteria...
  4. Even if you could kill it, the dead fungus would still be on the elements and needs to be cleaned off. If you don't kill it it will etch the coatings and eventually etch the glass.

    I presume they don't want to estimate until they know just how bad the damage is. In the worst case, elements may need to be replaced, in the best case the lens still has to be taken completely apart, cleaned and reassembled, which probably takes at least a couple of hours. What does 2 hours of skilled labor cost? $100?
  5. The only way to get rid of fungus is to dismantle the lens for cleaning. It won't go away by itself and it is serious. From the way you describe it is in an advanced state and that is not good. You need to act quickly if you value the lens. If you don't you might as well throw it in the trash. Personally I would pony up the $44 for the inspection tomorrow morning but to each their own.

    If you catch fungus early the elements can be cleaned. And its also possible to recoat an element in some cases. But the longer you wait the more the damage. Eventually the fungal waste products will eat through the coating and etch into the glass. Once that happens that element is ruined. There is no cure. I suppose you could pay to have the element or elements replaced, but I suspect that would be an expensive proposition.

    To prevent fungus you should not store cameras or lenses in humid conditions. Air conditioned environments are best.

    I have no idea of the cost to clean a lens in Australia.
  6. The local and long-gone camera store owner told me that leaving a lens outdoors so that all the insides got exposed to direct sunlight would kill fungus. I did a google (or something) search on this quite some time ago and found some contrary views. Specifically: [1] Ultraviolet will kill the fungus, but not the spores, so it may come back; [2] Glass will absorb enough UV that you may not kill the fungus anyway. Sorry but I no longer have a source for these items. Conventional wisdom is that the fungus will spread - keep that lens away from the others! Perhaps a biologist can give us some defintive insight here?
  7. "Conventional wisdom is that the fungus will spread - keep that lens away from the others! Perhaps a biologist can give us some defintive insight here."

    Conventional wisdom is wrong. Fungal spores are everywhere, but it takes moisture to activate them. Fungus contamination is caused by storing equipment in excessively humid environments pure and simple.
  8. Thanks all for the replies.

    Right now the lens is kept in direct sunlight. But soon I plan to send it for cleaning assuming they quote some reasonable amount for repair. I will wait for the quotation.

    Actually I rarely go to 1:1 magnification, normally 1:2 is enough for me. Also on 1.6x crop DSLR I can get good working distance even with 50 mm lens. Hence I was actually thinking that if the cost of cleaning is too much I would just buy a brand new 50 mm macro instead ..... Of course I am aware that 50mm macro is non-usm, so-so build quality, difficult to focus etc. But I still get a *new* lens compared to 6 year old lens that I currently have (and also there is no guarantee from the shop about completely fungus-free lens after cleaning)
  9. My canon 100/2.8 USM macro lens caught fungus, which is quite severe. The lens elements are not affected yet but the fungus has grown totally inside.

    I dont understand this comment. The lenses elements are not effected; but the rest of the lens is. Normally one sees fungus first on the optics. I not really sure if I have seen fungus much on aluminum lens mounts at all. Getting fungus is common on leather cases. In early stages fungus just drops the image contast, it maybe cleaned off. In later stages the coating gets removed in patches. The byproducts of fungus are acids that eat ie divot/pothole the glass surface. In practice alot of folks greatly worry about small lens defects that cannot be measured. In survey equipment one just cleans the dirty lens and bores, and one moves on with life. Photographers seem to be more emotional.
  10. I mean the fungus is visible but the glass elements seem to be intact, i.e. there is no visible mark / dent on the glass when I see through. Only the fungus web is visible.
  11. This article by Zeiss gives a lot of information about fungus in lenses:


    One of the basics is to keep humidity levels low - get some silica gel and seal the lens in with it.
  12. Considering the high cost of skilled labor, it's probably cheaper for a service center to replace modular lens element groups in toto than to disassemble them, clean them, then reassemble them....heaven forbid re-multi-coating them. In fact, I'd doubt a Canon service center is authorized to disassemble an element group on site.

    But I'd certainly spend $44 to have it checked out.
  13. Trying to keep equipment that you use frequently in moisture-sealed containers is a losing proposition beyond anything more than a short-term. Blindly fooling with silica gel every day is too much hassle for the long term, and if you don't do it properly, you've just sealed your equipment into a humidor.

    Do some Googling for "mold" and "building science" to get the best basic information about fungus control. Fungus spores are everywhere, but they need two things to grow: Seventy percent relative humidity for 24 straight hours. If you deny them 24 straight hours of 70% relative humidity you forstall their growth. If you measure the humidity in your closets and other usual storage areas, you'll have real information on whether and where the danger is. If you don't do at least that much, you may as well watch out for black cats and throw salt over your shoulder.

    You can buy cheap hydrometers at a hardware or home store. Buy three (so if two match, you go with that reading) and test your normal storage area and other areas of your equipment domicile. If your equipment domicile is air conditioned, it will probably be below 70 percent relative humidity in most of the areas, but humidity can vary enormously even within a single room. Generally, the center of the room will be least humid, the corners near the floor will be most humid. Closets may be quite humid even in an airconditioned room.

    If your outside areas are over 70% relative humidity, but your equipment will spend the night in an airconditioned space, do NOT store your equipment in bags or cases, but take it out and put it on open shelves with a clean cloth over it to keep off dust. If your equipment spends six or eight hours a day in an air-conditioned, low humidity area, that breaks the fungus growth cycle and you're home free.

    If your equipment domicile is over 70% relative humidity, you'll have to lower the relative humidity. Relative humidity has two factors: The moisture content of the air and the temperature of the air. It's 'way too hard to try to remove moisture from the air on a long-term basis, but it's quite easy to raise the temperature by a few degrees and significantly lower the relative humidity. When I lived in the Philipppines and Okinawa in the 70s and 80s, I commandeered a kitchen cabinet and mounted a 30-watt electic light bulb at the bottom. I kept my equipment on shelves above it, covered by towels. The cabinet should not be air-tight--it needs to be ventilated enough to avoid becoming an oven, but it should control air flow enough to allow the warmed air to leave at the top (in other words, a simple wooden cabinet will work, but not wicker or rattan).

    These days you can buy special, high-priced "dry cabinets" intended primarily for firearm storage. They are simply cabinets with low-level heating elements doing the same job as my light-equipped kitchen cabinet.
  14. I could be wrong but I suspect a dry cabinet would cost less than replacing an EF 100mm f2.8 lens. Admittedly I am going by what I paid for two of them in 1983. But I have a hard time believing their prices would have increased more than Canon lenses in that time.

    Besides you can easily make your own relatively inexpensively. All you really need is some kind of cabinet with a few strategically placed holes for air circulation and a heat source such as an incandescent light bulb, placed in the bottom. The Zeiss link someone posted earlier has instructions and diagrams.

    Dry cabinets do work. I lived in one of the most humid conditions on earth for a number of years. After dealing with fungus early on, I started using them and never had another problem for the next nine years.
  15. Hi, I live in Australia & only just had my Canon 100-300 F5.6L lens cleaned from fungus. It cost me in Australian Dollars $308.00.

    The camera repair store told me that I will never need to worry about getting fungus on my lens again. They told me when I went to pickup my lens that they treated the lens with something that will stop Fungus from occuring again, They garanteed this.
  16. Hi, I was wondering what do you all think about the info I posted above in regards to the fungus not ever returning. I live in a humid area & don't see how they could offer that garanty about the lens not getting any fungus again.
    Is this possible? a product that stops any fungus returning.
  17. Silica Gel would help prevent it from reurning or growing in other lenses. At a buck or two on the "e harbor" you can get yourself some little packets to toss in your camera bag.
  18. I think the only really successful concept to prevent damage by fungus is to keep the camera lenses always in a surrounding with a rather low humidity. If you have to stay in a humid climate that can only be achieved by an airtight lens case and a desiccant. In this link you can find some interesting information about that problem and its solution:
  19. Sorry for digging up an old thread, but I've got this problem with my old lens and I'm wondering will this fungus thing spread? i.e. onto another lens? Since I keep them all in the same container (airtight with silica gels) and I'm not sure if the infected lens gonna affect the others? What do you think?
  20. @ Khiem Le:

    Please check the link about fungus on lenses in the www.mennon.net website which I put in my posting. There you can find, that you cannot prevent fungus spores from getting on your lenses, cause these spores simply fly everywhere.

    You only can prevent these spores from growing by keeping your lenses absolutely dry, cause spores never grow without humidity. Spores which don't grow are no problem, cause you either cannot see these microscopic things or you can remove them like dust.

    A good way to keep your lenses absolutely dry is keeping them in the mennon Desiccant Lens Cases.
  21. I have been quite lucky to have removed fungus from a few nikon primes, the whole piece dismantled down to bear bones and clean the inner elements. Of course you need the right tools and the right skills and patience with this as the process can drive you nuts. If your lens caught fungus, don't put it in the same box as the other good lens. The silica will do nothing to stop the fungus from spreading. Get rid of the lens or get rid of the fungus. Contrary to common belief, it may take decades before the fungus start eating into the lens coating. Fungus works very very slowly.
  22. I recently had a spate of fungus after 20 years no problems. Apparently the older house I live in now is likely to be responsible. The measure I've taken is to keep stored lenses in individual storage bags wrapped tightly with elastic bands. I've moved the stored items to a hopefully less damp part of the house. 2 lenses i'm getting cleaned and treated with anti-fungal solution. I hope this works.
  23. I studied microbiology and I can tell you that it is delusional to think, that you can eliminate fungus just by carefully removing all visible fungus and keeping away all objects which were infected with fungus.
    New fungus grows from spores. Spores are incredibly tiny and even under a microscope difficult to recognize. They are in normal house dust and they are the tiniest particles in that dust. They are so light that they can fly for days. Even in apparently clean air you can find flying spores, if you let this air pass through microfilters.
    Spores are very resistant to all hygiene measures. They even survive boiling water, detergents and most disinfectants. Sunlight, heat and drying up for many years cannot kill them.
    That is why it is delusional that you can prevent fungus from growing on your lenses by thorough cleaning and removing. You cannot prevent fungus from BEING on your lens. You just can prevent fungus from GROWING on your lens.
    Theoretically from one single tiny spore trillions of fungi can grow and cover a whole lens, but only if this spore gets sufficient water. Spores without humidity are nothing but invisible harmless micro-dust.
    That means the only promising strategy against fungus on lenses is to keep up a low humidity in the direct environment of these lenses: If you live in a rather dry climate then it is enough if you don’t store lenses in damp rooms or cellars and don’t keep them in cases when these cases for instance are soaked with rain.
    But if you live in a humid climate or if you often work outdoors in rain, then you need airtight desiccant lens cases to be sure that fungus won’t destroy your lenses. For more details you can read this:
  24. Hello,
    Do you know how much Canon charges to clean a light fungus ?
    Thank you.
  25. The dry cabinet is good. I suspect one should be careful with settings. I put a 1938 Leica with elderly vulcanite covering into mine & had it turned up (down?) to 30%. The vulcanite must have been more hygroscopic than I thought; it shrank and detached from the body. I have subsequently been more careful, settings 40%- 50% max.
    The most common useful implement for avoiding mould is a humidistat controlled refrigerant type dehumidifier, set at moderate RH. Lots of these are cheap, for domestic use. They are not so acceptable mid summer, as they add heat from running the motor, but really no more than a refrigerator. All my lenses started to get mould when I moved from Sydney up to the Blue Mountains (Australia) & after spending on cleaning a few, I bought a dehumidifier for $800; very little mould growth since (23 years), and I get the advantage of a dry room through the wet season. Good dehumidifiers are cheaper now, but with smaller reservoirs.
    No good if you leave the windows open.
    My advice is, pay to get a lens cleaned properly, or buy a new lens. It is not a zoom; they can be complicated therefore expensive, although I have never had an autofocus lens cleaned.
  26. Hello,
    It seems that fungus just started in my Canon eos 650D lens (only the lens it seems) and didn't spread a lot, so it should be easy to clean.
    I checked some videos on Youtube and it's not so difficult to open and clean but this lens costs $200 so i don't think that they should charge a lot to clean it ?
    When I bought the camera in Japan less than 1 year ago I had some documents then I moved...
    Canon Japan website is only in Japanese and I don't know where to check my serial number and how to claim my warranty.
    And it seems that anyway fungus won't be cleaned for free by Canon, so no need to waste time using their service and better find another company/shop to clean the lens ?
    Thank you again for your help.

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