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How do you store your treasured Leica gear?


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Here in steamy Japan this is an important issue. It you don't protect your gear from humity it WILL get fungus -- it's only a matter of time. I've have a fax machine, several (cheap) lenses, Christmas ornaments, and numberous pairs of shoes all bit the dust, so to speak, due to mold.

 

Like a lot of seriously photographers over here in Asia, I have a specialized dry cabinet.

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Thanks guys for your considered answers so far. It is serious! I

don't want my Summcirons to succumb to the dreaded f**n**s!

We all live in different climatic zones, and that makes a

difference. I am in the South Island of New Zealand where our

weather is almost as barmy as the UK (fine and hot one minute,

cold and raining the next). Big variations in temperature,

streaming condensation in winter. Unlike the US, most houses

here, ours included, do not have airconditioning throughout. I am

intrigued by Donald's suggestion of a dry storage area. How do

you achieve that?

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I live in Japan as well, and yes, it get terribly humid in the summer, and damp in the

winter. Camera stores here sell dedicated dry cabinets. They look like mini fridges

with a glass door (so you can still admire your Leicas!). Humidity is controlled by a

dial; the box is powered by electricity. Fairly costly too -- about US$300.

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I believe that lenses and cameras <i> will inevitably </i> become infested with fungus if kept in a humid place. Lenses can become irreparably damaged and you're wise to be concerned about this, unless you happen to live in a desert! If you're unfortunate enough to encounter fungus in a lens, it's important to get it removed quickly, to minimize the risk of permanent damage. In time, the fungus will destroy lens coatings and can also excrete hydrofluoric acid, which erodes the glass itself. In fact, hydrofluoric acid is the chemical used industrially for etching glass. <br><br>

 

Keeping cameras and lenses in leather ER cases or leather pouches is <i> not </i> a good idea, since leather encourages fungus. I don't understand why Leica provides leather pouches with lenses, since it encourages bad practice. <br><br>

 

Some people like to keep their gear in a ventilated cabinet with a low-wattage light bulb burning inside but I've never tried that. I keep all my M cameras and lenses in a couple of LowePro bags with packets of silical gel, which I check and replace when the crystals are turning pink - they're dark blue until they start absorbing moisture. I'm told that you can rejuvenate silica gel by heating it in an oven but, as it's cheap enough to buy, I don't bother.

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I just leave it out and about, partly in my office, partly in the living room. Air circulates freely and light gets to the hooded but mostly uncapped glass. Fungus likes dark as much as humidity. It all gets used often enough so dust isn't a problem. In humid South Florida I have experienced fungus a few times over the years, but it cleaned up OK. The biggest problem with using Leica cameras is that we EXPECT them to last half a century and more. If I'd bought anything else way-back-when it would have been replaced half a dozen times.
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I look for old ladies' mink hats at flea markets and consignment shops (they're about $5.) Then, I turn them inside out, using them as a liner for a small leather bag. I don't like putting expensive cameras in fancy camera bags which scream: EXPENSIVE CAMERA INSIDE.

<br>The mink liner is very soft and works well. It can be removed periodically and knocked clean, if necessary.

<br>The mink can also be removed and squashed flat, serving as a cushion to place on a table to rest the camera when not using it.

<br>AND, it looks great.

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I put my M6 TTL, 90 Elmar and 35mm 'Cron and Gossen Meter and Tele Extension into 2 air-tight plastic box. Each of them is guarded with drying agent from Japan designed for closet. I live in Hong Kong, we live humid and rainy Spring and summer (the rain just killed a police inspector yesterday, he was trying to save a guy from flooding). The fungus is away. Hope it helps.
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David - On Guam, my Leica went into a "dry cabinet," along with my wrist watch and binoculars. Even your shoes would sprout strange tinngs unless kept in a closet with a heating rod (as described in a post above) In Emgland, I used silica gel. Here at home, we live in a house with airconditioning and humidity control, so the stuff just stays on the closet shelf.
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A chap I knew years ago, called Dave Hughes, was a film cameraman who did stills on the side. He told me that when he was in SE Asia, he used to put his gear in an old oven at 200F for five minutes every night to kill the fungus.

 

No, I still don't know if he was pulling my leg...

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I keep a lot of my gear in a Craftsman locking rollabout tool cabinet. The cabinet is in the basement, where the temp stays in the 60's in the winter, and around 70 in the summer with the AC running. It's a very dry basement, and the humidity seems pretty low what with the AC squeezing out the moisture in summer, and the furnace drying the air in winter. At least one camera stays in a camera bag ready for use; even that is stored in th basement.
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