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Need tips for cleaning used ebay lenses

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by jhumroo, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    I have bought a couple of legacy lenses on ebay.

    From the pictures and descriptions, these lenses do show some dirt and dust on the lens casing, and one of them supposedly has a little fungus on the front-lens element (sample pictures from the lens looked good, so I went ahead and bought it).

    Are there any tips for cleaning the lens and casing, and also on possibly cleaning the fungus?

    I've read some people recommend rubbing alcohol, while some say don't use it. Others recommend Hydrogen Peroxide or lens cleaning solution.

    Please advice. Thanks!
  2. RDM

    RDM Mu-43 All-Pro

    It depends on where the fungus is and how bad it is ..
    If you have fungus in the inner elements then you might want to have the lens professionally cleaned; assuming the lens is worth it .
    Cheap lenses you can try it yourself, and if you do something wrong , its not much money wasted.
    If its really bad fungus then it might not matter because the lens could be etched as a result already.
  3. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    Grubby outer casings are fine - naptha/lighter fuel on a swab works well.

    Fungus is another matter. Personally unless the lens is rare I wouldn't touch a lens with fungus...

    Okay assuming you've got masochistic tendencies or picked up a M-G Trioplan for a couple of pounds then you can try the following:

    In a room well away from precious optical equipment (you don't want to spread those spores)

    Firstly it's a good idea to kill off the fungus by placing under a strong UV source with the lens caps removed (sunlamps are a possibility, or if you live in a sunny part of the world a windowsill might work, but be careful not to focus the sun's rays on to anything flammable).

    Next you need to disassemble the lens - on some early lenses this is very straightforward, but you might need lens spanners and fine graded cross-point screwdrivers - every lens is different, and there are very few disassembly charts on the web :) . Watch out for the tiny ball-bearing that makes the click stops...

    If you've got it apart removing the fungus is straight-forward. If the fungus hasn't etched the glass then dilute lemon-juice will generally work or Hydrogen Peroxide (a friend recommends athlete's foot cream...). If the element is coated on the inside you do risk destroying the coating but the fungus has probably already done that. If the fungus is in between cemented elements just give up - I'm sure it's possible to separate elements and re-cement them, but possible and practical are different things. Make sure everything is dry, check there's no dirt build up on the aperture blades and reassemble.

    I've done it on a handful of old German lenses and found it straightforward, 1960's and newer lenses tend to be much harder and more complex, frequently impossible for an amateur with few tools...
  4. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    YMMV but I'm not a specialist in fungi. I can't tell "mild" fungus from any other kind but I do know that fungus can spread and ruin other perfectly good, expensive lenses. Someone once sent me a lens that had fungus - I immediately put it into a plastic bag and put it in the trash can in the garage, no exaggeration. :eek:  :frown:
  5. cptobvious

    cptobvious Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 8, 2013
    I've tried various solutions (Lenspens, Zeiss lens wipes with isopropyl alcohol, etc.). The Zeiss lens wipes are fine for the casing, but the best and most cost-effective solution for glass are Eclipse solution and Pec Pads. It's what most service center techs use because it cleans thoroughly and doesn't leave any visible residue if you do it correctly (start from the center, wipe in a circular motion towards the edge, lift the wipe at the edge). Gloves and ventilation are highly recommended because Eclipse is pure methanol which is toxic.
  6. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    Personally, I wouldn't worry about fungus spreading to other lenses. Fungal spores are everywhere. Everything is already infected. So it's not a matter of isolating your fungus lenses from your clean lenses. They are all fungus infected lenses. It's a matter of not allowing the fungus to grow. That comes down to controlling humidity.

    As for leaving a lens in the sun to kill the fungus. Glass is an excellent UV filter. So unless it's a plastic lens, the UV won't kill it. The reports that it does probably has to due with the heating of the lens by leaving it in the sun and not UV. Heat will kill fungus. But killing it won't get rid of it. Dead fungus on a lens is still visible. To get rid of that, you'll have to physically clean it off.

    I live in a dry environment so fungus for me is rare. I've never had a new lens go fungal. I do have the odd used lens that has fungus. Unless it's bad enough to effect image quality, I leave it alone. The ones that have been bad, I've opened up and cleaned myself. Old legacy glass isn't that complicated. The hardest part is recalibrating it so infinity focus on the scale is really infinity focus. That is time consuming.

    I use anhydrous isopropyl. You can get a big container of it at drug stores. That's as pure as you can get. It's 99+% pure. But nothing is pure. So there is residue. I use deionized water to wipe off any alcohol residue.

    Of all the lenses I've clean like this, fungus has not come back. Which is to be expected since I live in a dry environment and fungus doesn't grow.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    Thanks. So, rubbing alcohol is not recommended for the casing to remove any sticky residue, or is it okay?

    I'm getting a Lens Pen for cleaning the lens.
  8. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    Would like to avoid disassembling the lens, so I'll give sunlight and heat a try to kill the fungus (I'm in TX).
  9. jhumroo

    jhumroo Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 20, 2015
    The lens is a Minolta Rokkor 50mm 1.4, and according to the pictures and the seller, it has mild fungus on the inside of the front lens element, which doesn't show in the images shot with it. It was a good deal, so I went for it.

    Wi'll try killing the fungus with sunlight and hope that takes care of it. As long as the pictures out of the lens are good, I don't want to open it.

  10. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Killing fungus doesn't usually help. By the time you can see most lens fungus it has already consumed at least some of the anti-reflective coatings on the lens element. Some are robust enough to eat the glass surface itself. So even if you clean it all out, you're still left with a grimy / hazy looking lens.
  11. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    Totally agree on Eclipse - it's the most effective lens cleaner I've ever used.
  12. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    First, fungus can be cleaned but it will always leave a mark because the fungus eats the minerals in the lens, so the "root system" will leave a permanent small scar on the surface.

    Cleaning is best done with windex or windex-alike products.

    The method is to roll up a bit of tissue into a small rod about 1cm in diameter (you know like a pencil) and apply the windex to one end of the rolled up tissue - do not squirt onto the lens.

    Start in the middle and work outards in small spiral. The process should take a few seconds. Do not work the area like you are polishing a car.

    That's the best method. It is outlined here by Schneider
  13. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    This is on the money

    In library's in books its called cancer. To the OP I suggest you evaluate carefully how you store the lenses. Do not store in your camera bag unless you are wanting to create an extensive fungus colony.

    Some reading

  14. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    I completely disagree with that opinion. Here's somebody else that does as well. While I don't agree with everything he says. Specifically that spores are too small to get past the seals of a lens. The spores are tiny. The seal gaps are huge. His points about spores being everywhere, humidity and fungus needing something to eat are points that should be well taken. Most modern lenses don't have much for fungus to eat. I don't have a single modern lens that has fungus. But that may also be that I bought most of my modern lenses new and I live in a dry environment so there is no chance for fungus to grow.


    Once again, there's no reason that fungus needs to spread from one lens to the other. Since all lenses are already infected. It's a matter of whether they are stored in an environment that encourages their growth. If it doubt, there's a simple experiment you can do. It''ll cost you a lens but will prove this point to you once and for all. Take your cleanest most "non infected" lens. Put it in a ziplock bag with a bit of moisture, some water will do, and let it sit for a few months. Come back and you'll see it as moldy as a moldy piece of cheese. How can that be? There was nothing in there to "infect" it. That's because it was already infected from the day they put it together. Yes, I have done this. Not on purpose but out of neglect.
  15. Cruzan80

    Cruzan80 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 23, 2012
    Denver, Co
    Sean Rastsmith
    Is it a 49 or 55mm filter thread? If the 55, you shouldn't have much trouble dissembling. I would try taking off the front name-ring, and the larger screws on the back. Generally, the front optics will be accessible from there. If you need a hand, I also have a 55mm threaded 50/1.4 and have taken apart and cleaned several Minolta lenses. All you really need is a set of precision screwdrivers.
  16. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa

    fair enough ...

    this suggests you've not actually done anything about this yourself ... but just read it ... my experiment is based on evidence (presented) and discusses the spore germination humidity (and that if the humidity is low enough they won't germinate).

    I'm guessing you didn't even read it, and just assumed you knew what it said as a pre-judgment.

    exactly ... which is why it takes years to happen ... although given the right conditions I've seen it happen in about 2 years.

    and where do you live? In a tropical area??

    DUH !!!

    Its like saying I've never seen snow where live so its a false premise and I totally disagree with the possibility of making a snow man (oh, and I live in Sub Sararan Africa).

    so you've done this then ...

    exactly, which is why my blog post was about HUMIDITY and how to control it ...

    I guess you know that Lenses do actually acquire exposure to the environment and there isn't much mold in the factory when they're made ....
  17. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    It would appear the one pre-judging here is you. Since I've been preaching about controlling humidity as the key since my first post. But evidently you didn't bother to read any of my posts including this last one you quoted since I repeated it there as well. The key is to control humidity. Not any urban myth about fungus spreading from one lens to another and thus keeping them separate as the answer as you have stated as being "on the money".
  18. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa
    you are correct, I did not read your posts as I only responded to the OP and then later your disagreement.

    It seems illogical to disagree with my post about humidity if you were banging on about humidity yourself.

    which was my blog post subject .. naturally for you to disagree with it implies you disagree with humidity.

    and so you're sure that no spoors move around? I assume you understand that what you see in a fungus is mostly the "spooring body" and so as Fungi do try to reproduce (rather than spontaneously generate) it would seem reasonable that a mold infected lens can infect another (as can books).

    do you have "any" evidence to decry this as an urban myth??


    or just your opinion??


    it its airbone and if it can settle then logically it can spread.

    PS: From your source:
    so he really isn't sure ... and he's not a mycologist he's a photographer.

    He says:

    and yet dust makes its way in there ... I would agree perhaps with LF lenses, but with zooms? You have to be kidding right?

    Spores range in size from 2 micro meters ...
  19. lenshoarder

    lenshoarder Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    That was obvious.

    I was disagreeing about your insistence that lenses spread fungus to other lenses as being "on the money". It doesn't matter since all lenses already have fungal spores on them. All lenses are already infected. I repeated that disagreement in my last post. Seems you didn't read that either.

    What is most illogical is that on the one hand you say that controlling humidity will control fungus yet you keep insisting that this controlled fungus will still emit spores. If the humidity is low enough, fungus is not active and not emitting any spores. So where are these spores coming from? Even if these spores are adding to the spores already on a "clean" lens, with low humidity these spores will never germinate so fungus will not grow on the "clean" lens. So you are contradicting yourself. You say humidity will control fungus, yet you still insist that this inactive fungus will spread to another lens. That illogical.

    Sure, you posted it yourself. But as is your manner, you didn't bother reading the link you posted.

    I said that all lenses are already infected since the spores are already everywhere. As per your link.

    "Fungal spores are everywhere"

    I also said, and which you claim to say as well, is that the key to controlling fungus is to control humidity. With low enough humidity, fungus doesn't grow. As per the link you posted.

    "Humidity above 60 percent is reputed to be the threshold where fungal growth starts.

    So spores are everywhere and it will not grow if the humidity is low enough. Which is exactly what I've been saying. Thanks for providing the link.

    Which is the specific thing I pointed out that I don't agree with him about. I wouldn't expect you to know that since you have admitted to not reading my posts. You just like to argue about them.
  20. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    Killarney, OzTrailEYa

    to make it clear to you : sometimes its easier to just go with the simplifications, then sometimes I meet someone like you.

    I said that because there is a risk that it will infect the other lenses. I feel that following the precautionary principle is worth while. If in doubt don't do it.

    I have seen filters infect other filters and I have seen infected lenses infect mirrors. I'm uncertain if they were already infected but have not seen uninfected lenses (FD lenses from the 70's) suddenly sprout when stored with my new gear. So when in doubt ... leave it out

    even though I did address it and ask you to support your assertion ... perhaps you missed that

    this must be difficult to understand but there are the following points
    - a spoor needs humidity to germinate, even if it has a spoor on it the spoor will not germinate if the humidity is less than about 60%
    - fungi need humidity to also grow ,

    thus storing at lower than 60% has a two fold benefit it prevents germination of existing spoors and prevents growths which prevents them spooring (as I described)

    I don't know what your qualifications are buy mine are that I did a degree in microbiology / biochemistry and that included mycology.

    FYI there are thousands of spoors all around the place but the concentrations vary. If you are in a lens manufacture plant where you are assembling lenses (which have just come out of ovens to bake on the chromatic coatings thus killing anything and making them far more sterile than after one has used it) there are far less chances of there being fungal spores on there to germinate.

    Then if you consider that there is more than one type of fungi, and the not all fungi will grow on glass elements. Thus (estimation) something like 0.01% of spores in the atmosphere are unlikely to germinate on your lens.

    However IF you happen to have a fungus which is growing on a lens (meaning its the right type) that is spooring then that (by definition of how they reproduce) is far more likely to infect your lens / filter / sensor than random spoors from a decaying orange.

    but if the spooring bodies are visible (and generally if the fungus is visible its spooring) then they'll wait for that right moment and burst forth.
    I hope you see this now ...

    Spoors are hardy things, once released they can and do survive long periods. So as mentioned above if the infected lens is carrying the fungi it may be able to also carry a burden of spoors which it may have already released and which may shake out and mingle with the dust in your cabinet, lens bag ... house .... whatever.

    why I argue is because I despise the spread of misinformation. You've cited a source to validate your view. Yet you've cited a source with zero veracity. A source which even itself admits it has no experience or has no clue, which even you have found problems with. I would submit that its YOU who are guilty of perpetuating urban myths.

    Rather than simply ask me "what do you mean, can you explain that" you just jump right on in and say
    it would appear from your subsequent argument that in analysis you actually don't.
    Best Wishes
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