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What is Lens Fungus and Mould?
Image by John Banbury
Fungus can develop in conditions of low oxygen and where there is petroleum oil to feed upon. One such perfect environment is a camera lens stored in a dark closet or camera bag. The oil that slowly separates from grease used to lubricate the focus and aperture control rings slowly develops into a very thin layer that coats the glass and becomes an ideal place for fungus to develop.
There are two types of fungus. One type grows in oxygen rich environments, the other which is more troublesome for photographers grows in little oxygen. This second type is a highly problematic because it produces liquid acid. This acid is what causes the etching pattern of the fungus on lens coatings as it grows.
Image by Arend Vermazeren
Another problem for lenses is mould, which likes to grow in environments over 60% relative humidity. Like fungus, once mould gets onto a lens coating, permanent damage may have already been done. Once this damage is detected, dismantling and cleaning the lens and its optical elements may repair the damage, if the coatings have not been etched.
However by reducing the relative humidity to 35-45%, a photographer can help prevent the damage caused by internal fungus and mould growth by providing an environment that discourages its growth.
A good lens is generally a very expensive item, so it makes a lot of sense to take steps to protect it. This is especially true if the the lens is used/stored in a high humidity environment. A good first step would be to purchase a humidity meter, these can be obtained for just a few pounds. You might be suprised to find out just how humid the location where you store your photographic equipment is.
The easiest way to protect your lens is to use a Brno dri+Cap. These innovative caps contain a dessicant that reduces humidity within the lens. They are a neat solution, since every time you take the lens off the camera and fit the dri+cap, you are automatically taking preventative action to protect your lens. The dri+Cap insert uses a dessicant sachet with colour coded crystals, making it easy to see when the sachet needs to be replaced.
Of course it isn't only lenses that can be damaged by mould and fungus. We have seen more than one digital camera sensor affected by mould.
Sensor Damage (crop section of image)
dri+Cap for DSLR
Brno manufacture a dri+Cap for digital SLR camera bodies as well, although they're only available for Canon and Nikon at present. By replacing your lens and body caps with a dri+Cap your are signifcantly reducing the risk of humidity induced damage to your photo gear.
Having seen the damage that mould can cause, we also ensure that our camera bags also have one or two dessicant sachets sitting inside at all times.
Super Power Dry
For more on the Brno dri+Cap system click here.
For Super Power Dry, click here.