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fungus and lens cleaning fluid
Old 04-21-2018   #1
seany65
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fungus and lens cleaning fluid

Hello all. I recently went to a second-hand camera shop to ask them to look at a couple of issues with a camera I'd recently bought. One of these problems was tiny, tiny dots of what I thought could be fungus (sort of irregular dots with 'roots'). The assistant looked and said it was (yay, I've learned what the early stages of fungus look like). He took it over to a bench while I was looking at a Yashica tlr with a weird-named taking lens, and when he brought it he said used some ethyl alcohol and that's got rid of it. He also said breath can have enzymes which destroy fungus.

I would like to ask if anyone has heard about enzymes in human breath being able to kill fungus?

I would also like to ask about using alcohol-based lens cleaning fluid. I've read that it can damage the coatings on lenses and so we should use non-alcohol cleaning fluid, but Ive also read that it's the stuff to use.

Can fungus be killed by alcohol fluids but can they damage lenses?

Any help would be much appreciated.

For several reasons I decided not to keep the camera I took to the shop, one reason being too many cameras and not enough space.
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Old 04-21-2018   #2
Huss
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I use isopropyl alcohol 91% all the time to clean old lenses that I've just bought w/ zero issues. And I have also used it to remove fungus etc. Super cheap, available at drug stores. Does not damage coatings.
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Old 04-21-2018   #3
Larry Cloetta
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1. I have used isopropyl alcohol to good effect to remove fungus, rapidly, without any discernable coating damage.
2. As a side question, are not most, if not all, lens cleaning solutions alcohol based? First I have ever heard that an alcohol based lens cleaning solution might be problematic. Every bottle I have ever received from my ophthamologist has been alcohol based, as is the proprietary Zeiss solution I have.
If not alcohol based, what could a lens cleaning solution be comprised of, that would actually work? I am not questioning the possibility that alcohol might cause problems (with lenses, not those other problems) I’ve just never heard this before. Ignorance is a possibility, which is why I ask.
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Old 04-21-2018   #4
ChrisPlatt
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A very reputable and experienced camera repairman I know told me he uses Windex.

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Old 04-21-2018   #5
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I use a domestic glass cleaner - called Mr Muscle.
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Old 04-21-2018   #6
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Old 04-21-2018   #7
StanMac
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I’ve used hydrogen peroxide.

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Old 04-21-2018   #8
philipaloft
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I've heard of technicians using thymol on fungus in lenses.
It's the distilled oil of the thyme plant, and not expensive online.
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Old 04-22-2018   #9
seany65
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Thanks to everyone for the replies.

@Larry Cloetta: first please accept my apologies for reading your name as 'Lady Cloetta'. Anyway, yes there are some alcohol-free lens cleaners and no, I don't know what the cleaning ingrediants are either.

@ChrisPlatt: I've never heard of Windex, but I've just done a search and found out that they have quite a few different types. I wonder if I should use on that would make my lens smell nice then the only things that would stink are the photographs I produce.

Thanks for the link Ko.Fe.

@StanMac: I'd be worried about using Hydrogen Peroxide as it sounds too much like the fuel used in V2 rockets.
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Old 04-22-2018   #10
Larry Cloetta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seany65 View Post

@StanMac: I'd be worried about using Hydrogen Peroxide as it sounds too much like the fuel used in V2 rockets.
The 3% hydrogen peroxide as comes from the drug store is what I have used very successfully in the past for fungus. The hydrogen peroxide that Werner was using in the V2 was in the area of 97% if I recall more or less correctly, and is a different beast, quite caustic to skin (personal experience), and not an off the shelf item.
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Old 04-22-2018   #11
Larry H-L
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I've worked at some places that had enough gear that Nikon and Canon technicians would occasionaly come to our workplace to clean gear.

They both used the same thing to clean lenses... 98% denatured alcohol.
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Old 04-22-2018   #12
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I've had good success using a 50/50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia.

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Old 04-22-2018   #13
retinax
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AFAIK ethanol as well as propanol will kill fungii. I suppose the reason people recommend hydrogen peroxyde or ammonia has more to do with cleaning it off than killing it. However spores will find their way back inside anyway, dry enough storage is what matters to prevent fungus from growing.
Side note, I've found demineralized water very effective in removing streaks that were left behind after cleaning lenses with alcohol and even some dirt, it dissolves stuff much better than tap water.
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Old 04-22-2018   #14
rlouzan
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1:1 Windex Original Glass Cleaner + distilled water.
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Old 04-22-2018   #15
Bill Clark
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I’ve only cleaned one lens in my life. It was for a Mamiya TLR. The camera where the lens comes off with different sizes available.

I used Windex and it mostly worked. The fungus had etched into the glass. I put it into the trash.

Never going to buy another lens with fungus on it!
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Old 04-22-2018   #16
seany65
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Thanks to everyone for all the new replies and info.

@Larry H-L: I can't help thinking that 'Denatured Alcohol' is Booze that doesn't get you drunk.
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Old 04-22-2018   #17
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I've only been successful at restoring non-coated lenses, and I've always used hydrogen peroxide. The two coated lenses that I had that had fungus, even though I was able to remove the fungus, it had already damaged the lens coating, which made the lenses kind of suck optically afterwards.

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Old 04-22-2018   #18
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^ Certainly more so on the rear lens than the front has been my limited experience. Peter
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Old 04-22-2018   #19
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One of the lens repair guys who makes videos on YouTube (who does it mime style, with no speaking) uses both a commercial glass cleaner and lighter fluid. I'm not sure why he (and his buddy who does talk) switch from one to the other, sometimes in the same video. I used lighter fluid on a couple of lenses and it seemed to leave a slight oily film that wiped right off with a lint-free lens cloth.

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Old 04-23-2018   #20
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Your breath does not contain enzymes to kill fungus that I know of. I guess in theory either ethanol (what we drink) or isopropanol are both good at killing bacteria, though fungi are funny ones and quite tough. The hydrogen peroxide approach will kill them and I think is also intended to kill the spores; it's a mild bleach, if you like. Ammonia is a good glass cleaner; anything that separates dirt from glass is going to shift fungus, at least at the time. As for lens damage, mainly this is caused by rubbing, particularly some old Leica glass I believe is quite soft, but unless you use something quite caustic then glass is a pretty inert material, and certainly won't be touched by organic solvents e.g. alcohols. I too use hexane (near enough to lighter fluid) to clean lenses as well as solvents (methanol mainly) as alcohols are not always good at dissolving grease, which can be one cause of haziness, as said above.
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Old 04-23-2018   #21
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Thanks for the new replies and info.
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Old 04-23-2018   #22
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Yep. Peroxide can do some fungus killing, as will alcohols (take your pick: methanol, ethanol, isopropyl, R-OH). It is good to kill both the existing fungal hyphae and as many spores as possible. I haven't killed fungi (in lenses) for a while, but it seems like using some alcohol, followed by some peroxide is good overkill

As far as I know, there are little to no enzymes in your breath (or my breath) unless you exhale sharply and dislodge micro-scale material in your lungs and bronchia. Those organics/tissues may indeed have some enzymes (they are cells after all), but those enzymes are for cellular function, not fungus-killing. What you would actually get from strong exhalation breath is a lot of fungus food (anything organic) and warm moist fungus "spa-like" conditions. In which case, you would definitely be encouraging fungus on the lens. I did see that some amylase compounds may prevent or disrupt biofilm formation by certain bacteria. Amylase is the main enzyme in saliva. I could find nothing about amylase and fungi in the literature though.
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Old 04-24-2018   #23
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@rfaspen: Thanks for the new info.
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Old 11-19-2018   #24
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I've just received a Pentacon Electric 29mm lens and there was a tiny amount (only just noticeable when looking through a reversed, hand held 50mm lens) of what could be fungus on the outside of the back element, but when I cleaned it with my cloth and screen/lens cleaning spray-which is stated to contain NO alcohol-this possible fungus seemed to disappear.

Is this possible? Can ordinary cleaning spray get rid of fungus?

Any help would be much appreciated.
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Old 11-19-2018   #25
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It probably would be a good idea to give it a wipe w/ alcohol just in case. The kind of fungus that you are encountering is not what I usually run into. I usually see the more serious type that is between cemented elements. About all you can do w/ that type is sit the lens in bright sun for a few days. UV light will kill fungus, your breath will not.

Just as a bit of science info, the human mouth is one of the nastiest things on the planet when it comes to bacteria and germs. Even worse than a dog, which is scary. Over 615 types of bacteria at last count. So it would be smart to swish some alcohol in your mouth too. Preferably a single malt 20 year old scotch.
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Old 11-21-2018   #26
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Thanks for the info Steve. I'm not sure in this last case it is fungus, but it looked a bit like it. As I said previously I've cleaned it with a cloth and cleaning spray.

I was going to look at it next Wednesday or Thursday to see if it's come back and decide what to do then, but I may leave it in the "sunlight" (Ha! Just outside Manchester near the middle of Winter, fat chance of much sun.) as a precaution.

Do I take it that the "between cemented elements" type does not respond to UV?
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Old 11-21-2018   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
It probably would be a good idea to give it a wipe w/ alcohol just in case. The kind of fungus that you are encountering is not what I usually run into. I usually see the more serious type that is between cemented elements. About all you can do w/ that type is sit the lens in bright sun for a few days. UV light will kill fungus, your breath will not.

Just as a bit of science info, the human mouth is one of the nastiest things on the planet when it comes to bacteria and germs. Even worse than a dog, which is scary. Over 615 types of bacteria at last count. So it would be smart to swish some alcohol in your mouth too. Preferably a single malt 20 year old scotch.
Then immediately breath on the glass? Well, that explains a lot...

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Old 11-21-2018   #28
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"I would like to ask if anyone has heard about enzymes in human breath being able to kill fungus?"

I would say to the shop assistant: pull the other one it plays "Jingle Bells". Have you ever made the mistake of using a spoon in a nice newly opened pot of yoghurt, eating from the spoon then double dipping with it back into the yoghurt? Yuk you say - well in my defence I was young and stupid and it was my yoghurt in any event.

But if you try this, a few days or weeks later the yoghurt will be covered with nice green or black fungus courtesy of your mouth bugs - something which if refrigerated never seems to happen to yoghurt even long after it becomes inedible. I learned the hard way that indeed the human mouth is full of nasties. Kept in check by the body's immune system but just waiting to rush out and form a nice colony on an unsuspecting pot of yoghurt. Or lens, I would argue..............the human immune system generally works fine inside the body but not so much when exported to the interior of an expensive camera lens. Or so I think.

Seriously if out in the field and I need to blow dust off a front lens element and do not have a blower brush I will use my breath but I will also clean the surface with alcohol (and yes as far as I know it is safe for coatings) as soon as I can. I prefer isopropyl alcohol as it seems to smear less than the common methylated alcohol found in hardware stores. I do not believe that it will necessarily get rid of well established fungus on its own though. But it seems to certainly kill spores on the exterior of the lens, which might somehow migrate to the interior and eventually grow into fungus there. And in any event it certainly dries the exterior of the lens of moisture. And it never hurts to be careful.

One home remedy for getting fungus off an element following lens disassembly is to wipe it generously with Ponds Cold Cream, leave it for a while and then wash it off giving the element a final clean with alcohol. It sounds like an urban myth to me but lots of people swear by it. I have never tried it so cannot authoritatively opine. Some people claim that it is first necessary to use chemicals to get rid of the fungus (the most usual nostrum is to soak in an equal parts mixture of hydrogen peroxide and ammonia) and THEN use the cold cream to gently polish out any residual marks left by the fungus on the element's surface. As per this thread: http://photographytoday.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1214
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Old 11-23-2018   #29
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Thanks for the info peterm1.

I won't disassemble any lens 'cos I'd never get it back together. If I did manage that I'd still have bits left over.
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