There's A Fungus Among Us

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by coryammerman, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. I was perusing eBay this past Monday, in search of nothing in particular, and came across an auction for a Super Recohflex that was ending soon and had no bids. A quick search of this forum (which is my go-to place for user reviews on old cameras) led me to a recent post by member John Seaman ( The quality of the images in John's post made me decide to put in a $20 bid ($5 more than the opening price) despite the fact that the description contained little information and the pictures were only sufficient to tell that the camera hadn't been run over by a truck, and that's about it. Well, despite a sniping attempt at the last second, I won the auction for a bit less than my max bid. I guess the other bidder wasn't quite as committed as I was.
    The camera arrived yesterday. To my pleasant surprise, the focus turned easily and the shutter seemed spot on. There was, however, another problem. The more astute readers among us may have already discerned from the title of this post that it was fungus. Quite a lot of it actually. I would say that this cameras had more fungus in it than any other camera I've ever seen. It was everywhere, inside the viewfinder, on the mirror, and on all surfaces of the lenses.
    Here's the viewing lens.
    The taking lens was even worse.
    Given the price of the camera I decided not to bother with trying to return it for a refund and just see if I could clean it myself. Since the focus wasn't frozen up, I didn't have to fiddle with the set screws around the front elements that seemed to give John so much trouble with his camera. The camera was actually really easy to work on. The screws holding the viewfinder and the front of the camera in place are all exposed, no digging around under the leatherette. All the elements were just screwed together or held in with retaining rings, some of which did require a bit of elbow grease to get moving. I managed to get the camera disassembled, cleaned, and halfway put back together in the span of one baby nap. I finished putting it back together and calibrated the focus this morning.
    Here it is all put back together and loaded with a fresh roll of Delta 100. Hopefully it won't take me the usual 2-3 months to finish the roll in it, as seems to be the norm for me these days.
    Considering the amount of fungus the camera had in it, I'm sad to say that it will have to spend the rest of its life in seclusion from the rest of my collection, just to be on the safe side.
  2. SCL


    Nice catch. several years ago I got one of their later models, a Diacord which had frozen up, and after lots of elbow grease it has been a stellar performer. I hope you get as much enjoyment out of yours as I have mine.
  3. Sometimes, a surprising amount of fungus still leaves a lens sort of usable ( see ).
    Try it, but I do recommend solitary confinement for it.
    This TLR, by the way, was among the earlier Japanese cameras advertised and sold directly in the USA.
  4. Hi Cory, just out of curiosity, what did you use to get the fungus off? I gather you were at least reasonably successful.
  5. Quarantine for sure, but I hope you do use it, as I have seen images from these cameras and they have a really nice quality, especially wide open....the fungus will help there....nice Leica glow!
  6. Good job cleaning off the fungus. Its odd how sometimes it comes off without leaving damage to the glass, other times it etches itself in. Perhaps there are different kinds of fungus, affecting various kinds of coating in different ways. I just managed to clean a nice Pentax 50mm F1.4, after finally working out how to get into it from the front. the fungus made an intricate net pattern on the front element of the rear group, but it cleaned off a treat and the lens looks as clear as a bell now.
    Sadly my Ricohflex is back in the "needs attention when I get around to it" box, the shutter having somehow got gummed up during storage.
  7. Perhaps you could get it fumigated... The Ricoh Anastigmat lens had a good reputation. I've seen the camera called a Lubitel copy, but that seems to be an unkind thing to say about any camera. It will be interesting to see your results.
  8. Hi Cory! You have done a great job of restoration. You can fumigate it with Ammonia plus Hydrogen Peroxide fumes in an enclosed box. Perhaps warm the Ammonia plus peroxide a few degrees. That should kill all the fungus. While storing the camera, spray the container [preferably metallic box type] with Boric Acid powder. That will prevent any new fungus from growing. Would love to see some pictures with this camera, soon. All the best, sp.
  9. Thanks everyone. Glad to hear you got that Diacord up and running Steven. JDM, that was quite a lot of fungus in that lens. Did you ever get it cleaned out? Fred, I've seen recommendations for using a dilute mix of isopropyl alcohol, but I didn't have any of that so I just used generous portions of Windex. Tony, I'm not sure about any Leica glow, but I'm hoping the lens lives up to its good reputation. John, sorry to hear about your shutter issues. Now that you don't have to fiddle with the set screws, hopefully it will be a easy fix. Rick, I try not to use words like Lubitel in proper company. :) SP, thanks for the tip on the ammonia/peroxide mix. I'll have give it a try. I wonder if the Windex would have enough ammonia in it to work?
    Thanks again all. I hope to have some images to show soon.
  10. Looking forward to seeing photos, Cory. And congrats on the restoration. I don't know if Windex (or generic equivalent) would be safe, at least on coated lenses. I don't recall what other ingredients it has.
  11. Thanks Mike. I'm not advocating the use of Windex on lenses, but it was all I had handy. I've used it before with no apparent ill effects, though. I probably wouldn't have used it on a more expensive camera.
  12. In my experience, a fungus-ed lens will flare more in bright light, but can still make very nice images in late afternoon/evening light.
    My late 1950s Wirgin (fixed-lens) rangefinder with a fast f/1.9 lens has fungus that completely covers at least one inside glass surface, and I have not taken it apart to remove it. I was surprised at what nice images I got with it --in less contrasty scenes.
    What I am uncertain about, is whether dismantling the lens groups to scrub away the fungus would actually result in significantly better images. My hunch is that it would not.
  13. JDM, that was quite a lot of fungus in that lens. Did you ever get it cleaned out?​
    No it really isn't feasible because of the cost. I just keep it away from my other gear.

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