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Fungus inside the lens. What to do?

Dealing with fungus inside a camera lens can be a daunting task, but it's not impossible to manage or resolve. Here’s what you should consider if you find yourself in this situation:


How Serious is It to Shoot with a Fungus-Infected Lens?

Shooting with a lens that has fungus inside it isn't immediately catastrophic, but it can degrade your image quality over time. The fungus can create visible patterns in your images, typically seen as web-like structures, and can lead to reduced contrast and unwanted flare or ghosting when shooting in light-sensitive conditions. Moreover, if not addressed, the fungus can spread, potentially infecting other lenses and even camera bodies.


Recognizing and Confirming Fungus Inside the Lens

To check for fungus:

  1. Visual Inspection: Shine a bright light (like a flashlight from a smartphone) through the lens. Look for web-like or branching patterns that radiate from a center point. These are distinctive from the mere specks of dust.

  2. Symptoms in Images: Look for signs in your photos, such as lowered contrast or unusual flare, particularly when shooting against light.


Steps to Manage and Possibly Eradicate Lens Fungus

  1. UV Light Treatment: Exposing the lens to UV light can help kill the fungus. A UV-C light is most effective as it has a shorter wavelength that's more lethal to microorganisms. Ensure you're using the correct type of UV light and follow safety guidelines to avoid damage to your eyes or skin.

  2. Chemical Cleaning: Using diluted hydrogen peroxide can be effective. Disassemble the lens carefully—only if you’re confident in your ability to reassemble it—and soak the affected parts. Be cautious with the concentration of peroxide; too strong a solution can damage lens coatings.

  3. Professional Cleaning: If you’re unsure about disassembling the lens or using chemicals, it's advisable to take it to a professional service. They have the right tools and expertise to handle the problem without risking further damage to the lens.

  4. Preventive Measures: Store your lenses in dry, well-ventilated areas. Using silica gel or other desiccants can help keep moisture levels low, reducing the risk of fungus growth. Regularly inspecting and cleaning your lenses can also prevent the problem from developing or worsening.


Is It Safe to Continue Using a Fungus-Infected Lens?

While it's safe to use a fungus-infected lens in the sense that it won’t damage your camera body, the ongoing degradation of image quality and potential spread of the fungus make it advisable to address the issue sooner rather than later. Continuous use of a contaminated lens might result in permanent damage, making the lens unusable in the long run.

Conclusion

Fungus in a lens should be taken seriously, but it's often manageable with the right approach. If you're not comfortable handling chemicals or disassembling your lens, seeking professional help is the best course of action. Keeping your gear in optimal conditions and regularly checking for signs of fungus can help preserve the quality and lifespan of your camera equipment.


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