It’s a safe bet that most of you never heard of lens fungus, but it’s a reality that you have to deal with in humid climates. Lens fungus will rear its ugly head when moisture gets trapped inside the lens. What lens fungus does is cause cloudy patterns to form on the lens. Fungus first starts growing in the lens barrel feeding off all the accumulated dust particles. The best way to avoid dust and lens fungus is to keep your camera and lenses cleaned and in airtight containers with bags of silica gel, which absorbs moisture. You’ll want to periodically clean the outside of your lenses – the glass and the lens barrel – to remove any dust deposits and to remove any grease deposits (this is food for the fungi).
Store in a Dry Place
Avoid lens fungus by always storing your photo equipment in a cool, dry place. If you live in a humid area, then store your equipment in airtight containers with small bags of moisture-absorbing silica gel (those white bags that were packed with your lens when you bought it). You may need to buy some at your local camera shop. Remember to periodically change the silica, as it loses effectiveness as it becomes full of moisture over time. Some types of silica gels packs are re-useable after drying in a low oven. With the camera and lenses packed airtight with moisture-absorbing gel, they should be safe. Remember that it’s important to let your equipment dry out as much as possible prior to sealing it all up. Fungus will grow on your lens in less than a week if you expose it to damp, dark, and warm conditions, so please avoid these at all costs.
Keep a Plastic Bag Handy
It’s raining outside and you want to take advantage of the all the great reflections, so you venture outside and brave the raindrops. The first thing to remember – before you step out the door – is to wrap your camera in a Ziploc bag to avoid moisture from getting inside the camera. If you forget to do this, then you must completely and effectively dry your camera and the lens before safely storing them. One last storage caution – avoid storing your camera in leather bags, where fungi can easily grow and eventually harm the camera.
Removing Lens Fungus
If your camera happens to get infected with fungus, you need to act quickly because some fungi secrete acid that will eat away at your lens’ protective coating; the fungi may even etch the glass and ruin the lens. Luckily for us, this type of fungus is rare. There are few mixtures you can make to clear away fungus. A hydrogen peroxide blend with ammonia is a good method, as is a vinegar and water solution to remedy the fungus problem. Make sure you don’t delay, or you’ll need to have the lens professionally dismantled and cleaned, which will be expensive. If the lens has to be re-coated, then you’re looking at another big charge.
Your camera is an investment – perhaps a major investment, and the regular and proper maintenance of the camera body, the lenses and other equipment will ensure that your investment will last for over a decade. Don’t skimp, because there’s nothing more frustrating than missing that once-in-a-lifetime photo because the camera is not working or is damaged. Treat your camera and equipment with care and respect, and they should provide you with many years of good service, exciting memories and fantastic pictures.