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Quick Tip: Can your camera or lens get fungus from other cameras or lenses?

Have you ever left bread out a little too long and noticed mold growing on it after just a few days? Well, all the spores that made that bread moldy are floating around in your house and there is nothing you can realistically do about it. Mold spores are one of those things like dust, they are just everywhere and try as you might to eliminate it, it will always be there.

So, the idea that a camera lens brought the spores into the environment and infected your other lenses is kind of far-fetched. The real issue is not the spores in a lens infecting other cameras, because spores are already everywhere, the issue is the humidity that lets the spores grow into fungus.

99% of the time when we see a lens with fungus growth it is old, usually several decades old, and was stored in a basement for many years without use. Storing anything, not just lenses, in damp, dark conditions for years and years can cause fungus growth.

In order to avoid fungus ruining your equipment, the main thing you want to do is not put your lenses in the basement or in any other dark and damp location. You also want to take it out and use it once in a while. If you have a bunch of lenses sitting in a sealed box in your closet, there is still a better chance of mold growing than if you have them out on a shelf where there is more air circulation.

What is the best way to store cameras and lenses?

Some people think storing lenses in plastic containers with a desiccant pack is a good idea or is “airtight”, but it absolutely is not. First of all, few containers are really airtight. And putting a couple desiccant packs in with the lens will not do much in the long term. If you have ever lived in a humid area and used a dehumidifier you understand what I am talking about. A medium sized dehumidifier can pull gallons of water out of the air every day. GALLONS. It should be obvious, but a little desiccant pack will not make a dent in that amount of moisture in the air.

The best storage option in terms of convenience and simplicity is setting up a shelf or two in a well-lit room on the main floor of your house or studio and simply storing your lenses in that room. If you really want to go all out, get a dehumidifier, and put it in the room somewhere to help lower the humidity.

Also make sure the room is temperature controlled and well ventilated. In other words, do not pick the garage as your location for lens and camera storage. The only thing worse than a garage would be a leaky basement.

If you do not have a good room to use, a temperature and humidity controlled humidor or cabinet can be a great place to put your lenses to keep them fresh, just like a nice cigar!

Also consider your home. If you are in an old home that has had some water damage in the past you will need to be extra vigilant in protecting your gear. However, newer homes are not impervious to mold either. It is interesting, I have been to several old cabins that are practically open to the elements and there is not a spot of mold inside of them. Why is that? Ventilation. When the rain stops, it dries out quickly because it is so open, and the mold does not have a chance to take root and start growing. Keeping your house well ventilated is just as important if not more so than having it be energy efficient. If you are noticing water drops on your windows in the winter, you may have a ventilation problem that if left unchecked will probably cause mold to grow in your home and potentially your camera gear. Even though it seems so wrong, opening a window to allow some extra ventilation in the winter can help save you some trouble down the road, even if it costs you a few dollars on your utility bill.

Hope that helped!


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