Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?

Started Jul 4, 2011 | Discussions
PrTv
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Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?
Jul 4, 2011

My friend asked this question and I wanna hear what you guys think about this.

My friend joined a meeting of a local photography club, during which some guy asked my friend if he could try my friend’s 24mm 1.4G to see how it fared against his 28mm 1.4D. My friend discovered later that one of his lens (which was previously mounted on his camera that day, of course), has fungus. So my friend consulted me if fungus could spread to his lens in the situation like this:

1. Lens A has fungus
2. Lens A is mounted on a Camera (and used for around 30 minutes)
3. Lens A is removed and lens B is attached ( and used for only 5 minutes ).

Can fungus from lens A spread to lens B through the camera body? Note that the camera body is clean and no sight of fungus in the body whatsoever.

When he got home, he cleaned the mount (of the lens) with a microfiber cloth damped with isopropyl alcohol. Note also that all his gears are stored in a dry cabinet, and relative humidity is electronically controlled at 40-43% all the time.

I think he is being too paranoid and told him fungus spores are everywhere and already in all his lenses. There’s no way he can prevent spores from getting into his lenses. One thing that can be done is making sure that the gears are not stored in the condition that promotes fungus growth. In his case, since he stores his gears in a dry cabinet, he shouldn’t worry about fungus.

What do you guys think?

LensLineup
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Re: Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?
In reply to PrTv, Jul 4, 2011

in that short time, I really wouldn't worry about it
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Lance B
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Re: Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?
In reply to LensLineup, Jul 4, 2011

LensLineup wrote:

in that short time, I really wouldn't worry about it

Agreed, especially as he stores it in a dehumidifying cabinet.

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AlexanderVC
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Re: Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?
In reply to PrTv, Jul 4, 2011

Go shoot some photos in sunlight--the UV will kill off any spoors that might have made the migration.

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Michael Benveniste
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Re: Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?
In reply to PrTv, Jul 4, 2011

PrTv wrote:

Can fungus from lens A spread to lens B through the camera body? Note that the camera body is clean and no sight of fungus in the body whatsoever.

To put it simply, fungal spores are everywhere. When you see fungal damage on a lens, the fungus may still be active, it may have gone dormant again, or it may have fallen to normal environment levels. There's no way to tell without further testing.

When fungus "spreads" from one lens to another, it's usually just because both lenses were exposed to the same conditions, and those conditions were favorable for fungal growth.

So while it can't hurt to give your equipment a quick cleaning after being exposed to a fungus-damaged lens, in the long run storing your lenses properly will do a lot more good.

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photo perzon
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Re: Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?
In reply to PrTv, Jul 5, 2011

yes cause "fungus" means millions of spores. If conditions are right they multiply into more millions.

PrTv wrote:

My friend asked this question and I wanna hear what you guys think about this.

My friend joined a meeting of a local photography club, during which some guy asked my friend if he could try my friend’s 24mm 1.4G to see how it fared against his 28mm 1.4D. My friend discovered later that one of his lens (which was previously mounted on his camera that day, of course), has fungus. So my friend consulted me if fungus could spread to his lens in the situation like this:

1. Lens A has fungus
2. Lens A is mounted on a Camera (and used for around 30 minutes)
3. Lens A is removed and lens B is attached ( and used for only 5 minutes ).

Can fungus from lens A spread to lens B through the camera body? Note that the camera body is clean and no sight of fungus in the body whatsoever.

When he got home, he cleaned the mount (of the lens) with a microfiber cloth damped with isopropyl alcohol. Note also that all his gears are stored in a dry cabinet, and relative humidity is electronically controlled at 40-43% all the time.

I think he is being too paranoid and told him fungus spores are everywhere and already in all his lenses. There’s no way he can prevent spores from getting into his lenses. One thing that can be done is making sure that the gears are not stored in the condition that promotes fungus growth. In his case, since he stores his gears in a dry cabinet, he shouldn’t worry about fungus.

What do you guys think?

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PrTv
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Re: Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?
In reply to photo perzon, Jul 5, 2011

photo perzon wrote:

yes cause "fungus" means millions of spores. If conditions are right they multiply into more millions.

Does that matter?, since it's very likely that there are a number of spores inside the lens already even before the lens was mounted to the camera in question.

Of course, a lens with active fungus certainly contains more spores than a normal lens, and mounting the affected lens on a camera body may result in the increase of spores in the camera body, which can be transferred to another lens which is mounted later on.

But in practice, I don't know if we should worry about this, since, given proper conditions (RH > 60% for more than 24Hrs and heat), mold will grow regardless of the number of spores inside the lens. On the other hand, provided the lens has million of spores, but has never been exposed to the RD> 60% for more than 24 Hrs, I believe no fungus will grow.

I mean, why worry about additional spores getting into our gears, since they're there in the first place and there's no way we can prevent those microscopic particles from getting into our equipments.

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vaxn8r
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Re: Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?
In reply to photo perzon, Jul 5, 2011

There are fungal spores everywhere. It's the conditions that have to be right for them to prosper.

Fungus likes moist, humid environments and doesn't thrive in arid conditions.

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hoof
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In a nutshell: No, one lens cannot "infect" another
In reply to PrTv, Jul 5, 2011

As others have said, fungus spores are everywhere. But they can only "germinate" in the right conditions, and need something to eat. The right conditions require humidity, and the something to eat is dust.

Lenses get fungus because they have dust inside, and are stored in a humid warm environment. That's pretty much it.

However, to generate more spores, fungus needs a lot of food. A dust speck or two isn't enough. Fungus spreads by generating huge volumes of spores, in the hope that one will find another place where fungus can grow. The odds of success on any one spore are usually worse than the lottery. That takes a lot of resources to make that many spores to have any chance of one of them making it to a new food source. Any fungus growing in a lens does not have much food (a dust speck isn't much), so isn't likely to generate many spores, if it even reaches the spore-generating stage in its lifecycle.

The reason you get multiple colonies of fungus inside a single lens is because the multiple dust specks in the lens all have spores on them from an external source. Since the conditions to sprout fungus are the same for all those dust specks (humidity), you get multiple colonies of fungus. There isn't enough food inside a lens for fungus to spread from one colony to another part of a lens by itself (again, not enough food to make enough spores).

So no, one lens cannot infect another. But yes, if you store lenses somewhere and one gets fungus, you're likely to get fungus in the other lenses. Not because one lens "infects" the other, but because you've put both lenses somewhere where they are:

a) exposed to a source of spores (from outside the lenses), and
b) have provided the conditions for the fungus to grow.

In your case, you have nothing to worry about, IMO. Just make sure you store your lenses in a dry place. If you store your lenses in a humid place, they're likely to get fungus, not from that one lens you used, but from the fact they already have dust inside (from the outside world) which contains fungus spores.

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PrTv
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Re: In a nutshell: No, one lens cannot "infect" another
In reply to hoof, Jul 6, 2011

Thanks for your replies, everyone.

What hoof said is in line with what I read on the net (I did some research and found a number of creditable sites, including white papers in relation to mold / fungus). So I think all we can do is put our gears in the environment that doesn't promote the growth of fungus.

I also found that we can kill fungus by exposing it to sunlight (UV), but that doesn't do much with spores, since the spores can lie dormant for years.

So, my understanding is, if I don't see any visible active fungus, I shouldn't be worry about it. I think the best one can do to counter fungus is storing camera gears in humidity-controlled environment (in my and my friend's case, an automatic dehumidifier box), and try not to expose camera and lenses to RH> 70% for more than 24Hrs.

I live in south east Asia where it reaches RH> 60% on a regular basis, since I use a relatively large bag (Flipside 400), I think I'll start "baking" my camera bag once every 2 weeks to make sure it's completely dry (removing all my stuff and putting it under the sun for a whole day). Inside of the bag should be like an oven and the bag should be free from moisture.

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Xscream
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Re: Can fungus go from one lens to another through a camera body?
In reply to AlexanderVC, Jul 6, 2011

AlexanderVC wrote:

Go shoot some photos in sunlight--the UV will kill off any spoors that might have made the migration.

But make sure to remove the UV filter first!

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