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How to avoid fungus in lenses and sensors.

We all are passionate photographers and care for our equipment with equal passion. We take care that there is no dust, no fungal growth on sensor or in the lenses. The climate plays a major role in whether our equipment will get fungus or not.

How fungus degrades our images.

For getting crisp and sharp images, we need unobstructed light from the lens, landing straight onto a sensor. Any kind of fungus (or dust)  within a lens is going to disperse light, and is going to add softness to images. Simply, less sharpness, less details, reduced colour, and of course lesser satisfaction! No one of us would want to happen this to our precious equipment and images. In simplest words fungus is a natural thing, which IS going to grow by every passing day, and if care is not taken in time, it would make it difficult for service people to clean it.

What prompts fungus growth?

To put it in straight math -  Dampness + warmth  + darkness = fungus.  These conditions and a static or near static position of equipment  for 2-3 days or longer can attract fungal growth. Airborne spores of fungus are always present in the atmosphere around us, and in a large variety.  What they need is a favourable condition to grow.  Fungus feeds on dead organic things, and can spread to our equipment too.

OK, but what’s the remedy?

The simplest formula to avoid or prolong fungal growth is- absence of dampness, absence of warmth and absence of darkness = no fungus. Though when you are in fields or outdoor conditions, this may not be always possible. So taking utmost precautionary measures is the way to act against fungus.

Coastal areas have more humid conditions compared to interiors, where the air is dry. But it cannot be a reason for not caring for equipment.

Some ways to fight against fungus

1) A silica gel bag is an nstant remedy , but for a very short period. These small bags absorb little moisture around, and need frequent replacement or maintenance.

2) An air-conditioned room, low humidity level, and very good amount of lighting, but will have a good amount of electrical bills for a 24x7 condition!

3) Another good and cost effective solution is a compartment in your cupboard or a glass (not plastic or acrylic) fish tank, fitted with a low (zero) power bulb in one corner, and all your equipment can stay in another corner. The heat emitted would ensure that there is no humidity. If you have a temperature measurement device, make sure that the temperature within the compartment is about

5 degrees C higher than the room temperature. Keep the compartment ventilated so air doesn’t get trapped within. What you can store in this? Cameras, lenses, binoculars, filters, What NOT to store here? Memory cards or similar storage devices, batteries, wires.

4) Another way of avoiding fungus is to buy an electrically operated dry cabinet which is readily available. These cabinets have temperature and humidity control.  This is an off the shelf remedy and really works well. If you feel it’s expensive, (can be within Rs. 10,000/- to 40,000/- range), look at it as an investment and assurance for getting crisp and clear images. After all, you bought your dream camera and lens to get those amazing images, and not spending for the maintenance of the equipment is false economy.

5) Keeping you equipment in constant use, exposing it to sunlight, is another way to keep fungus away.  

If you are not going to use camera for long, make sure to take it out every alternate day and keep shooting a few pictures. Let your camera see a lot of light.

6) Camera bags can store moisture, and if bags remain in cupboards for long, they make fungal growth easier. So expose your camera bags in sunlight for 2-3 hours every 2 weeks. In the monsoons keeping bags in

air-conditioned rooms, or getting an inexpensive heater can make atmosphere less humid.

My sensor and lens already has some fungus marks or some weird patterns.

It’s time to get your sensor and lenses cleaned.  But from thereafter, precaution is the best remedy to avoid fungus. If the fungus is there for long time, it might have attacked or ‘rooted’ itself into the lens coatings, and even the service people may not be able to take it back to normal. These will certainly leave marks on the lens, adding some unwanted internal lens reflections, and degrading your images.

Get rid of  fungus & dust, get sharper results, always!

About fungus in lenses and on sensors