What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

Started Mar 24, 2017 | Discussions
mkstr7 Junior Member • Posts: 40
What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

The fog with half of it wiped off

I just noticed that many of my lenses have this very light fog on them, they're basically invisible unless you have a strong point light source shining at a large angle. It is almost invisible with normal indoor lighting. You can check the reflections as much as you want, they look perfectly smooth.

It actually does affect image quality because of a haze when a strong light source shines from an angle out of frame, I can tell because the haze is reduced immediately after wiping the fog off.

Obviously it's not water vapor, my house is very dry, the lenses have always been sitting there in the house it's not like I just got them inside or anything like that.

It's not on the inside because as you can see in the photo I wiped half of them off.

It develops on its own even with the lens cap on, very quickly, in a minute or so.

It does not develop on some lenses, like here it's on the Samyang 35/1.2 but it's not on my Samyang fisheye lenses. Similarly It develops on one of my Sony lenses but not the other.

It does not develop on my phone, even after wiping it with the same cloths.

It does not develop on the clear filters I have.

My best theory is that the lenses and parts that I have wiped the most often, but that doesn't explain what it is and why I can't get rid of it.

Ron Poelman
Ron Poelman Veteran Member • Posts: 7,954
What have you been cleaning them with ? (NT)
2
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khunpapa
khunpapa Senior Member • Posts: 2,666
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

Theory only: the lens may have the barrel or coating that can build up the electrostatic charge that would attract droplets or dust (or both).

Evidences : very dry home. Filters have no such fog.

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tko Forum Pro • Posts: 13,573
plasticizers

New plastic gives out a chemical that can deposit on any nearby surface. If you use a protectant like Armorall it can make it much worse.

Do you have the lens inside a vinyl or plastic bag? Any bottle with chemicals nearby? Try storing them on a shelf, no bag and no cap, and see what happens.

OP mkstr7 Junior Member • Posts: 40
Re: plasticizers

tko wrote:

New plastic gives out a chemical that can deposit on any nearby surface. If you use a protectant like Armorall it can make it much worse.

Do you have the lens inside a vinyl or plastic bag? Any bottle with chemicals nearby? Try storing them on a shelf, no bag and no cap, and see what happens.

I tried not putting a lens cap and I'm still getting it.

viperkeeper
viperkeeper Senior Member • Posts: 1,391
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

Do you vape, smoke or do a lot of cooking? Maybe you're not really cleaning it off just getting it wet and when it drys it becomes visible again.

PhotonTrapper Regular Member • Posts: 205
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

As Ron asked, what do you use to wipe the front element? Just the cloth, or the cloth + any sort of solvent/liquid ?

OP mkstr7 Junior Member • Posts: 40
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

viperkeeper wrote:

Do you vape, smoke or do a lot of cooking? Maybe you're not really cleaning it off just getting it wet and when it drys it becomes visible again.

No I don't vape or anything like that, and there is no cooking, at least not on this floor. If it was oil vapor from cooking the lens cap should protect it just fine, but lens caps don't seem to have any effect. it forms just as quickly with or without cap.

I can wipe it off just with dry cloth. but it comes back. I almost always dry wipe and I don't use any solutions.

it's also on a vintage lens I have, I tried washing it off with soap, still comes back. I tried alcohol, still comes back.

I also don't think it's static electricity, I tried breathing on it to allow some moisture to discharge any static it still comes back after a while.

khunpapa
khunpapa Senior Member • Posts: 2,666
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

mkstr7 wrote:

I also don't think it's static electricity, I tried breathing on it to allow some moisture to discharge any static it still comes back after a while.

You shouldn't look down that darn static electricity !!

You breath doesn't last forever. Once it evaporates, the static can accumulate again, pretty fast too.

BTW, the dust differs from the hard-to-evaporate micro-size droplets. You'd not underestimate the spreading power of the droplets too. For example, one sneezing can send the droplets as far as ten meters radius. Toilet flushing also creates droplets as far as the whole rest room, or even outside the door.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EG_PnRCLe9A

Talk of the toilet flushing, could it be the cause? Pour one bottle of blue ink into the water reservoir. Flush the toilet. After 10-15 minutes, wipe the place around the lens with the white tissue paper to see whether there's blue stain or not.

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PhotonTrapper Regular Member • Posts: 205
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

mkstr7 wrote:

I can wipe it off just with dry cloth. but it comes back. I almost always dry wipe and I don't use any solutions.

it's also on a vintage lens I have, I tried washing it off with soap, still comes back. I tried alcohol, still comes back.

I also don't think it's static electricity, I tried breathing on it to allow some moisture to discharge any static it still comes back after a while.

When you wipe, it looks like you aren't really removing all the stuff, whatever it is:

(this is one of your pic zoomed in)

Soap is not the best because it's very hard to rinse away and it leaves a film.

Alcohol is a generic name. Ethyl alcohol is bad (azeotrope leaves water behind), pure methanol is good.

Don't know about static.

I would try very clean (pure) methanol on a very small section, using special paper for optics. Wipe once, spiraling out. See what happens. Make sure the lens is not coated with something that could be attacked by methanol, of course.

OP mkstr7 Junior Member • Posts: 40
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

PhotonTrapper wrote:

mkstr7 wrote:

I can wipe it off just with dry cloth. but it comes back. I almost always dry wipe and I don't use any solutions.

it's also on a vintage lens I have, I tried washing it off with soap, still comes back. I tried alcohol, still comes back.

I also don't think it's static electricity, I tried breathing on it to allow some moisture to discharge any static it still comes back after a while.

When you wipe, it looks like you aren't really removing all the stuff, whatever it is:

(this is one of your pic zoomed in)

Soap is not the best because it's very hard to rinse away and it leaves a film.

Alcohol is a generic name. Ethyl alcohol is bad (azeotrope leaves water behind), pure methanol is good.

Don't know about static.

I would try very clean (pure) methanol on a very small section, using special paper for optics. Wipe once, spiraling out. See what happens. Make sure the lens is not coated with something that could be attacked by methanol, of course.

Yes There were still streaks left, but if I wipe it more I can get them off. Regardless, if I just leave it like that, the streaks will develop back into a full layer, which is impossible unless new material is still condensing on it.

khunpapa
khunpapa Senior Member • Posts: 2,666
Lens cleansing materials.

PhotonTrapper wrote:

Soap is not the best because it's very hard to rinse away and it leaves a film.

Alcohol is a generic name. Ethyl alcohol is bad (azeotrope leaves water behind), pure methanol is good.

Don't know about static.

I would try very clean (pure) methanol on a very small section, using special paper for optics. Wipe once, spiraling out. See what happens. Make sure the lens is not coated with something that could be attacked by methanol, of course.

Agree with you about soap.

In fact, this is the first time I see one say he cleanses the (whole) lens (assembly) with soap!

But - I don't agree with methy alcohol. It's toxic. May be not for you and me, but for the general population , methyl may be too dangerous.

As it's very toxic, most commercial methyl has dyes and other smelly chemicals add in to prevent people from consuming it.

The ISOPROPYL alcohol has no such problem. It could be founded in the drug store as it's topical antiseptic that can be used on human body. The 100% isopropyl could be bought from chemical outlet without any legal paper.

Scientific grade xylene (xylol) is the best, although a bit more expensive. Can be bought from most science shops. Biologists use it everyday to clean the $$$ microscope's lens. Dentists also use it to clean the gutta percha glue from teeth too. If remember correctly, lens repairman use xylene to repair the hazing compound lens elements.

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FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 17,888
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

Do try ISOPROPYL alcohol. A lot of repair people use it.

(read the comment after this)

PhotonTrapper Regular Member • Posts: 205
Re: Lens cleansing materials.

khunpapa wrote:

PhotonTrapper wrote:

Soap is not the best because it's very hard to rinse away and it leaves a film.

Alcohol is a generic name. Ethyl alcohol is bad (azeotrope leaves water behind), pure methanol is good.

Don't know about static.

I would try very clean (pure) methanol on a very small section, using special paper for optics. Wipe once, spiraling out. See what happens. Make sure the lens is not coated with something that could be attacked by methanol, of course.

Agree with you about soap.

In fact, this is the first time I see one say he cleanses the (whole) lens (assembly) with soap!

But - I don't agree with methy alcohol. It's toxic. May be not for you and me, but for the general population , methyl may be too dangerous.

As it's very toxic, most commercial methyl has dyes and other smelly chemicals add in to prevent people from consuming it.

Methanol is toxic if you drink it (adulterated alcohol) or are exposed to dense vapors for long periods. Not if you breath a tiny fraction of what you would use to clean your lens. And your neighbors won't suffer either. I was referring to pure (lab purity) methanol. That's what I used to use for high quality optics on the bench.

The ISOPROPYL alcohol has no such problem. It could be founded in the drug store as it's topical antiseptic that can be used on human body. The 100% isopropyl could be bought from chemical outlet without any legal paper.

Yes, isopropyl acohol is good too, if pure enough (reagent grade at least).

Scientific grade xylene (xylol) is the best, although a bit more expensive. Can be bought from most science shops. Biologists use it everyday to clean the $$$ microscope's lens. Dentists also use it to clean the gutta percha glue from teeth too. If remember correctly, lens repairman use xylene to repair the hazing compound lens elements.

I would not use an organic solvent like xylene on a photographic lens, ever, especially coated lenses.  See here . And by the way, xylene is slightly more toxic than methanol, although the small quantities involved in cleaning a lens would not do any harm, again.

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bosjohn21
bosjohn21 Forum Pro • Posts: 23,108
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

I do not know how old your lenses are but if they are modern say the last ten or so years old they should not be developing haze.

you did not say if the haze is internal or external but I am assuming internal.

lenses are not air tight and the haze comes from the stuff in the air

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John aka bosjohn21

pannumon Veteran Member • Posts: 3,982
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

mkstr7 wrote:

Obviously it's not water vapor, my house is very dry, the lenses have always been sitting there in the house it's not like I just got them inside or anything like that.

What is the temperature in your house? What is the temperature of the place where the lenses are stored compared to the rest of the house? Especially, is the bathroom (or wherever the shower is) nice and warm compared to the rest of the house?

Physical processes of water are complicated and sometimes hard to tackle. For example, water can form films on surfaces even when relative humidity is less than 100% (even when the surface temperature is the same as air temperature). I believe this depends on the material. I would not rule water vapor out yet.

If it is not water vapor, then your house is likely to be contaminated with something else.

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FrancoD Forum Pro • Posts: 17,888
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?
1

bosjohn21 wrote:

I do not know how old your lenses are but if they are modern say the last ten or so years old they should not be developing haze.

you did not say if the haze is internal or external but I am assuming internal.

lenses are not air tight and the haze comes from the stuff in the air

from the OP , first post :

It's not on the inside because as you can see in the photo I wiped half of them off.

OP mkstr7 Junior Member • Posts: 40
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

pannumon wrote:

mkstr7 wrote:

Obviously it's not water vapor, my house is very dry, the lenses have always been sitting there in the house it's not like I just got them inside or anything like that.

What is the temperature in your house? What is the temperature of the place where the lenses are stored compared to the rest of the house? Especially, is the bathroom (or wherever the shower is) nice and warm compared to the rest of the house?

It just sits on a shelf in the house, there is no temperature difference, room temperature is around 20 degrees

Physical processes of water are complicated and sometimes hard to tackle. For example, water can form films on surfaces even when relative humidity is less than 100% (even when the surface temperature is the same as air temperature). I believe this depends on the material. I would not rule water vapor out yet.

If it is not water vapor, then your house is likely to be contaminated with something else.

But there is no fog on some of the lenses.

Keep in mind, this is totally invisible unless with a very strong point light source. It is nothing like water vapor if I breath on it.

Ron Poelman
Ron Poelman Veteran Member • Posts: 7,954
also be nice to know the history of the affected ones. (NT)
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pannumon Veteran Member • Posts: 3,982
Re: What's this mysterious fog on my lenses?

mkstr7 wrote:

pannumon wrote:

mkstr7 wrote:

Obviously it's not water vapor, my house is very dry, the lenses have always been sitting there in the house it's not like I just got them inside or anything like that.

What is the temperature in your house? What is the temperature of the place where the lenses are stored compared to the rest of the house? Especially, is the bathroom (or wherever the shower is) nice and warm compared to the rest of the house?

It just sits on a shelf in the house, there is no temperature difference, room temperature is around 20 degrees

I initially thought that 20 Celsius-degrees is a general threshold value for condensing occurring. For example if you take a shower in a room that is 24 C-degrees, then the water easily condenses to surfaces in the other rooms where the temperature is only 20-C. This seems not to be the case actually, but water films forming may well be.

Physical processes of water are complicated and sometimes hard to tackle. For example, water can form films on surfaces even when relative humidity is less than 100% (even when the surface temperature is the same as air temperature). I believe this depends on the material. I would not rule water vapor out yet.

If it is not water vapor, then your house is likely to be contaminated with something else.

But there is no fog on some of the lenses.

Like I mentioned, the processes related to water (vapor) are complicated. The coatings of lens elements are different. For example, there is spray for eyeglasses that prevents condensing. This is not school physics. Either some of the lens elements have different coating, or then some of them are contaminated with something.

Keep in mind, this is totally invisible unless with a very strong point light source. It is nothing like water vapor if I breath on it.

I believe water film and condensed water are two different phenomena. I may be wrong.

Perhaps this thread can help you: https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/59316592

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