The Monsoons and Your Camera – Part 1 : Fungus

The monsoons are here and it’s time to take start taking special care of your equipments. Its not a time to forget them and keep them under lock. Believe me its one of the best times to use your cameras :)…

There are two main areas to focus on during monsoons

– Taking care of your camera when it is sitting at home

– Taking care of a wet camera during the rains while shooting..and what to shoot…

In this weeks blog, we look at the first part. We look at the silent killer for your lenses

Fungus:

One of the biggest problems that you will face especially if you live in cities that are close to the shore. With the monsoons increasing the humidity, your lens/glass are most susceptible to attack from this dogged foe.

While there are a lot of reasons and precautions that one can take, I think that the single most common reason for a fungus attack is lack of usage. Remember those days when you used to come back from vacations and there was this strange smell from the wardrobes? Well, that’s exactly what happens with your lenses. Leave them unused in the humid environment and you are inviting fungus. Having said that, It isn’t always practically possible to go out and shoot, so lets take a look at how to take care of your equipment.

  1. At home, Do Not keep them in a camera bag during the monsoons, you are inviting trouble if you do this!!!
  2. Keep your equipment in the open and give it as much sunlight as possible during the monsoon season even if you are not using it.
  3. The best method is to buy a de-humidifier or dry box. There are several available these days in the market and can be used throughout the year to help keep your camera and lens clean of fungus
  4. If you do not buy a dry box, try to keep your equipment in an open container with some rice. It really helps. This is how I keep my lenses and I am yet to face an issue in the past decade. That and making use of the camera every few days really solves the problems. Take a plastic box (something like the image below), put some rice in it (around 1/4th of the box should be enough). Place the lens on it and thats it.  Please do not cover the box with the lid. It is best without it. You could also add an extremely small wattage bulb to the container (something that I used to call zero watts bulb as a kid).
  5. The Silica Gel pouches that you get with your electronic gear are also very useful. They are very good at absorbing moisture. The only thing that you need to watch out for is that the Silica gel once they have absorbed as much moisture as they can, turn color (quite literary) and once that happens, you need to re-heat them to make them usable again. As a general practice, keep a couple of silica gel pouches handy and in your camera bag. 

If you follow the steps mentioned above, you should be safe from fungus. Now, if you already have a lens that you haven’t taken care of very well…..

How to check if your equipment already has fungus.

The easiest way to check for fungus is to have a beam of light pass through your lens (torch or holding it against a bulb) and look through it. If you see fibrous roots jutting out, you have already been hit.

Here is an image of how fungus looks like

Fungus, unless in the central area of the lens does not really affect the image too much. It is only when it starts creeping closer to the centre of the element that it will hamper the image quality by reducing contrast and sharpness. If hit by fungus, the only real option is to get the equipment cleaned from an authorized service centre. 

A final word, please please don’t keep your equipment closed in bags during the rains and please wipe them thoroughly if you have taken them out in the rain and let them be in the open and get some fresh air.  Next week we look at taking care of your camera kit while shooting in the rain.

For now, if there are any other DIY style approach that you use to protect your cameras from fungus, please do share here so that we could all gain collectively.

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5 Comments

  1. Rajiv Ramanathan June 26, 2017 at 7:04 am #

    Thanks Guruji.
    That’s a good learning today, not to keep the lens inside the bag but outside. Need to follow that diligently.

    Cheers

  2. Darshan Kamat June 26, 2017 at 11:07 am #

    Thanks a lot for this info. It’s really needful for every photographer

  3. Dhiraj Torane June 26, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

    Thanks Rahul. I’ll take out my camera today… It’s been lying in the bag for sometime..

  4. Abhijit Jadhav June 27, 2017 at 12:06 am #

    Thankx a lot Rahul for this info, i have been keeping my gear in camera bag along with silica gel packets…..but this rice box idea is really cool…will do it….

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