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de-smelling old camera's
Old 02-26-2008   #1
Disaster_Area
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de-smelling old camera's

anyone have any tips on getting the smell of smoke/musk/oldcamerasmell out of older camera's. I picked up a Rolliecord in great shape but its got old camera smell.. and maybe a hint of smoke. Any of you have tried and true methods for de-funkifying a camera.. its not really that bad of a smell.. but its enough that I notice it when I'm bending over the focusing screen.
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Old 02-26-2008   #2
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I don't guess I'd care for smoke, but just today, having received a "new" old camera, I just sat for a moment and enjoyed the familiar smell.
It's sort of an olfactory version of "comfort food."
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Old 02-26-2008   #3
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You might seal it in a bag with a vented box of baking soda. Soda is good at absorbing smells.

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Old 02-26-2008   #4
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vinegar is great at removing smells. Maybe you want to give your camera vinegar sponge bath if you don't think it's too harsh on the finish. You could even leave the camera next to a small bowl of it overnight. I do it to remove smells from closets and cupboards.
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Old 02-26-2008   #5
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You will need two wings of a bat, 75 grams of finely grated herring, one boiled newt, and a jar of Cheez Wiz. Combine the ingredients, soak the camera in the mixture, and perform a two-hour chant over the whole mess of it while playing Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon' backwards. Works like a charm.

In all seriousness, though, I'd love to know if anyone has any tricks for this as well. I've never been a fan of 'old camera smell.'
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Old 02-26-2008   #6
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i know with my leica the smell was the vulcanite, was a smoky, rubber cement kind of funk. anyway the vulcanite cracked and i replaced it with some leatherette and the smell is gone now, not even a trace. i kind of miss it.
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Old 02-26-2008   #7
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Bring on the funk. We want the funk. Oh, we need the funk. Gotta have the funk.
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Old 02-26-2008   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disaster_Area
anyone have any tips on getting the smell of smoke/musk/oldcamerasmell out of older camera's. I picked up a Rolliecord in great shape but its got old camera smell.. and maybe a hint of smoke. Any of you have tried and true methods for de-funkifying a camera.. its not really that bad of a smell.. but its enough that I notice it when I'm bending over the focusing screen.
This will work:

For the leather- dampen with hydrogen peroxide, this kills mold. When it is dry rub a bit of black, or clear shoe polish on the leather. I've used a product called "Tana" which is a "shoe cream"

For the metal-wipe exterior with a cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol, this will remove any nicotine residue.

This will sound odd but try this as well after the above. Wrap the camera carefully in a clean cotton cloth. Place wrapped camera in a plastic bag filled with about two tablespoons of fresh ground coffee. Leave it for a day or so.
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Old 02-26-2008   #9
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Old 02-26-2008   #10
cole
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Literiter - nice idea on the coffee ground. Isn't that burned at crime scenes to take away the smell? Or have I just been watching too many movies?
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Old 02-26-2008   #11
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I'll try the coffee grounds tonight (as its the only one of the above ingredients I have on me) And I think I'll definatly be getting it recovered a la cameraleather.com.. now what colour... my head says Levant or Black Beauty leather.. but my heart wants to scream RED SNAKE SKIN!!!!... or maybe black lizard.
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Old 02-26-2008   #12
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Someone I know used to work for Servicemaster, a company that specializes in recovery of buildings and property after disasters like fire or flooding.
They had what was called the "ozone room" and would put stinky things in there. Worked very effectively to remove odors generally and specifically smokey smells.
Maybe getting ahold of a similar company and leaving the offending camera in their care for a day or three?
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Old 02-26-2008   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock
Bring on the funk. We want the funk. Oh, we need the funk. Gotta have the funk.
I never figured you for a George Clinton fan.
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Old 02-26-2008   #14
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Good suggestions, I'll try the baking powder (I hate coffee.) I've got an M3 that smells like smoke and an XA that smells like old medicine for some reason

For the most part though, I like old camera smell. It gives it character and helps me concentrate.
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Old 02-27-2008   #15
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Think outside the box!

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Old 02-27-2008   #16
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I second the idea using vinegar.....on the other side mold might produce hallucinogenic effects.....
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Old 02-27-2008   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHub
Good suggestions, I'll try the baking powder (I hate coffee.) I've got an M3 that smells like smoke and an XA that smells like old medicine for some reason

For the most part though, I like old camera smell. It gives it character and helps me concentrate.
The suggestion was to use BAKING SODA, not baking powder.

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Old 02-27-2008   #18
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I'll second the sunlight and ventilation method: a few days of (breezy) fresh air worked wonders with a couple of pungent old cameras and cases I acquired.

(Just remember to protect them from the rain...)

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Old 02-27-2008   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmattock
Bring on the funk. We want the funk. Oh, we need the funk. Gotta have the funk.
Haha, jeez, I almost spit up my drink when I read this
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Old 02-27-2008   #20
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I can second baking soda, and mention papers - which I read here on RFF. After receiving my first SLR it appeared to be owned by smoker, very hard smoker. I wrapped camera in papers and changed them each 12 hours. Can't say for sure how many cycles I went through, but now it's OK. Air baths shooting outdoors after wrapping seem to help too.
As for "old camera smell", my Lynx 5000 has that and makes me emotional about this camera, alongside with how it operates.
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Old 02-27-2008   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spider67
I second the idea using vinegar.....on the other side mold might produce hallucinogenic effects.....
Not unless it is ergot.
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Old 02-27-2008   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disaster_Area
anyone have any tips on getting the smell of smoke/musk/oldcamerasmell out of older camera's. I picked up a Rolliecord in great shape but its got old camera smell.. and maybe a hint of smoke. Any of you have tried and true methods for de-funkifying a camera.. its not really that bad of a smell.. but its enough that I notice it when I'm bending over the focusing screen.
Dabbing it with hydrogen peroxide will kill the mold and cut the smell a lot. I know, since I just bought a monorail view camera that came with a fabric-lined case that had really severe mold and mildew problems. It could stink up a whole room in mere seconds, and that's no exaggeration. It reeked. However, it won't get rid of the smell entirely (because there will still be some now-thoroughly-dead mold trapped in the leather), and it won't do anything about the smoky smell. I used a whole quart of HP in that case, and I can still smell it, but now I have to stick my head in there to do so. A good wipe down with denatured alcohol will get rid of most of the smoke smell, assuming you are talking about cigarette smoke. The tobacco smoke smell is due to tar deposited on the camera and alcohol is a good solvent for that.
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Old 02-27-2008   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disaster_Area
I'll try the coffee grounds tonight (as its the only one of the above ingredients I have on me) And I think I'll definatly be getting it recovered a la cameraleather.com.. now what colour... my head says Levant or Black Beauty leather.. but my heart wants to scream RED SNAKE SKIN!!!!... or maybe black lizard.
I wouldn't go with the snake skin, in any color. It is delicate and will start looking ragged in a year or two (yeah, I tried it) and, although it makes great photos, it doesn't look that good to start off with when you're looking at it in person. The lizard is much better if you are going to go exotic. I can vouch for the Black Beauty and Levant being good for cameras, athough I get mine from a different source and cut and glue it myself.
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Old 02-28-2008   #24
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Thanks for the tip about the snake skin.. I was kinda worried about what the durability would be like.
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Old 03-01-2008   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disaster_Area
Thanks for the tip about the snake skin.. I was kinda worried about what the durability would be like.
Paradise snakeskin (the red stuff) is only about as thick as a sheet of writing paper and it is pretty fragile. The stuff they sell is glued to a slightly thicker backing made of other leather.
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Old 03-01-2008   #26
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I don't think I could ever put snake skin on a camera.

The worst smell I have ever encountered in my life was a large dead snake at the bottom of my yard ... it was summer and it had been there a few days days and when I disturbed it with the shovel to relocate it I nearly passed out. The smell stayed with me for days and psychologically the sight of snakeskin on a camera would have me running!
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Old 03-01-2008   #27
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I just got a beat up old Rollei 35 that smells like mold or mildew or something, and was going to use leather cleaner on it - but how can you be sure it is really leather?
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Old 03-02-2008   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith
I don't think I could ever put snake skin on a camera.

The worst smell I have ever encountered in my life was a large dead snake at the bottom of my yard ... it was summer and it had been there a few days days and when I disturbed it with the shovel to relocate it I nearly passed out. The smell stayed with me for days and psychologically the sight of snakeskin on a camera would have me running!
I tried it once and didn't like it (on an Argus C-3). Turns out it looks a lot better in photos than it does in real life. It is fragile and it is a magnet for gunk. I ripped it off of there and went with a fine pebble-textured black cordovan kidskin leather instead.

I know what you mean about snakes. I'm not afraid of non-venomous snakes, but have you ever smelled a live rattlesnake? It's why I won't eat cucumbers.
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Old 03-02-2008   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamzip
I just got a beat up old Rollei 35 that smells like mold or mildew or something, and was going to use leather cleaner on it - but how can you be sure it is really leather?
If yours has a little moon under the strap hangers, it is leather; if it doesn't, it is leatherette. Only other way to tell for sure is to peel some of it back and look at the back of it. Leather looks kind of fuzzy on the back and vinyl is slick and smooth. Incidentally, if it is real leather, and you want to kill the mold, do NOT use anything with alcohol in it, because the dye is alcohol-soluable. Personally, I'd use white distilled vinegar.

Last edited by FallisPhoto : 03-02-2008 at 08:50.
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Old 03-02-2008   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto
have you ever smelled a live rattlesnake? It's why I won't eat cucumbers.
Never see rattlesnakes here. Occasionally garter snakes.
So, my question is; do rattlesnakes smell like cucumbers? (which I passionately dislike anyway)

My, Rolleiflex MX (1954) will have a new covering from Camera Leather when it arrives. Black leather.

But now that I've ordered it I'm looking at the old leather which is intact and worn through a bit to the brown under the black. I think I may just replace the front pieces that I destroyed by taking off the front of the camera to get the shutter out. (previous repair used contact glue instead of shellac.) The older leather has a marvelous patina (?) and I'll try to preserve it. It smells a bit like gun oil.
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Old 03-02-2008   #31
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I once bought a Nikon F5 and it smelled like the last owner sat infront of it for 5 years blowing smoke at it. I left it in a sealed bag for several weeks with a box of baking soda and it helped a lot.
The smell never really completely went away so I sold it. Reminded me of that Seinfeld episode with the smelly car.
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Old 03-02-2008   #32
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[quote=literiter]Never see rattlesnakes here. Occasionally garter snakes.
So, my question is; do rattlesnakes smell like cucumbers? (which I passionately dislike anyway)
quote]

Yes, especially in late summer.
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Old 03-02-2008   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mllanos1111
I once bought a Nikon F5 and it smelled like the last owner sat infront of it for 5 years blowing smoke at it. I left it in a sealed bag for several weeks with a box of baking soda and it helped a lot.
The smell never really completely went away so I sold it. Reminded me of that Seinfeld episode with the smelly car.
A good wipe-down with alcohol or naptha would have removed the odor entirely. Either solvent will work wonders on tar -- even cigarette tar.
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Old 03-02-2008   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by literiter
... It smells a bit like gun oil.
Last off-brand gun oil I got smelled exactly like bacon grease. I had the horrible feeling that might be what it actually is, so I haven't used it on a camera yet. I assume you mean Hoppes gun oil?
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Old 03-02-2008   #35
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I bought an SLR that was incredibly stinky with cigarette smoke. I tried everything - alcohol, putting in near coffee, febreeze, bounce dryer sheets - still stank.

I finally concluded that it was the vulcanite that was the worst, so I mixed some coffee with water to make a paste and worked it into the vulcanite with an old toothbrush and wrapped it with saran wrap to keep it moist for a day or two. At the same time I shut up a crumpled bounce sheet in the film chamber - it stank too.

After a couple of treatments like this it no longer smells at all - it smelled like coffee and bounce for a few weeks, but now it is jusy "fresh"
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Old 03-02-2008   #36
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After Hurricane Camille in Gulfport we had a LOT of salt water soaked interiors in our cars. Those of us that still had cars after the storm. A few days in the sun and they smelled pretty ripe. A used car dealer told us to cut up a few apples and leave them in the car for a while. They absorbed the smells and gave a pleasant smell to the interiors. (this is a little off topic, but if you are cooking and over salt your dish, toss a couple of cut up potatoes in for a while. They will absorb the excess salt and you can fish them out and throw them away and finish cooking your gumbo or whatever). Then we drove the cars up North and sold them for cheap before the whole things turned to rust. Payback for old scores I suppose. So you could put the camera in a bag (don't seal it completely up) for a while and it might be a lot better, but if the smell is realy in there it will take a long time to get it aired out.

Last edited by myoptic3 : 03-02-2008 at 16:42.
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Old 03-02-2008   #37
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got this from a friend... but heard that it works.

wrap the camera up in newspaper for a few days. Takes the smoke/grease/smell away.
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Old 03-02-2008   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto
Last off-brand gun oil I got smelled exactly like bacon grease. I had the horrible feeling that might be what it actually is, so I haven't used it on a camera yet. I assume you mean Hoppes gun oil?
Hoppes, yes. It smells rather sweet, quite nice actually.
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Old 03-02-2008   #39
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Hoppes, yes. It smells rather sweet, quite nice actually.
It's a very good oil. Wish I hadn't tried to save a few cents.
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Old 03-02-2008   #40
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Febreze will take the nasty smoke smell out of rubber.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mllanos1111
I once bought a Nikon F5 and it smelled like the last owner sat infront of it for 5 years blowing smoke at it. I left it in a sealed bag for several weeks with a box of baking soda and it helped a lot.
The smell never really completely went away so I sold it. Reminded me of that Seinfeld episode with the smelly car.
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