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Best aperture to store Leica Lens to prevent Oil?


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My 50mm Summicron is in Germany right now for servicing because of oil in the Aperture blades. I'm from Manila, it cost a lot to send my lens to Germany. 

 

My question is how do I prevent a similar event from happening? what is the best aperture setting for storing the lens to prevent Oil in the aperture blades? Do I store it wide open or the other way around?

 

Thank you. 

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My 50 mm lens went to Germany twice with oil on aperture blades. I am not an expert, but I would have thought that the issue is too much and perhaps wrong lubricant in the first place. Oil being what it is will seep to places if there is too much of it and if it is ‘runny’ enough. Thus storage mode will not have much affect on ‘oil on the blades’. I would have thought that with modern lubricants this should not happen in the first place. Disclaimer: I have work for 40 years as a service engineer servicing and lubricating various mechanical devices.

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I had oil on the blades of one of my R lenses. I took it to Red Dot and it was suggested I try leaving it with the aperture wide open for a while. I did and you know what, the oil disappeared!

 

So I can only advise to keep the aperture open when not using your lens for a period of time.

 

Of course the amount of oil will depend on whether or not you should send the lens in for service. It's less of an issue on M lenses as it doesn't affect the speed of the aperture closing and opening as it does on an SLR.

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Why is oil on aperture blades a problem?

Because despite being slippery oil it is more sticky than no oil at all, so oil causes drag on the aperture blades which are very, very thin. In very bad cases it isn't just a case of the blades resisting the turning of the aperture ring, it can cause the blades to buckle.

 

 

Steve

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Got a reply from Leica USA:

 

Stephen,

 

Nothing about how the lens is stored will prevent this occurrence.  Oil appearing on the blades is typically the result of the internal lubricating grease breaking down from exposure to high temperatures and running to places it shouldn’t be.

 

Best regards,
 

Edited by stephengv
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I just saw this...  yes, heat is the major factor in lubricants melting and running places they shouldn't.  

 

Use a light-colored bag that "breathes."  Don't leave your gear in the car in Manila...  or indoors in a bag next to a window that gets sun.   Just to tell you how hot it can get, when I lived on Guam, I was at the beach one day, and left a portable AM/FM radio in the back of my hatchback car.  I returned a couple of hours later to find that the front of the radio got hot enough to melt the plastic.  The entire front of the radio sagged just like a Dali piece.   That taught me a valuable lesson.

 

There's no necessity to return a lens to Germany for a cleaning though.  Any competent camera repair shop ought to be able to clean, reassemble, lube and collimate a lens to factory specs.  I recently had my 65mm Viso-Elmar overhauled by my local repair shop (and he also cleaned up the fungus that it had acquired.)  He only had it a few days and the cost was very reasonable. 

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I just saw this...  yes, heat is the major factor in lubricants melting and running places they shouldn't.  

 

Use a light-colored bag that "breathes."  Don't leave your gear in the car in Manila...  or indoors in a bag next to a window that gets sun.   Just to tell you how hot it can get, when I lived on Guam, I was at the beach one day, and left a portable AM/FM radio in the back of my hatchback car.  I returned a couple of hours later to find that the front of the radio got hot enough to melt the plastic.  The entire front of the radio sagged just like a Dali piece.   That taught me a valuable lesson.

 

There's no necessity to return a lens to Germany for a cleaning though.  Any competent camera repair shop ought to be able to clean, reassemble, lube and collimate a lens to factory specs.  I recently had my 65mm Viso-Elmar overhauled by my local repair shop (and he also cleaned up the fungus that it had acquired.)  He only had it a few days and the cost was very reasonable. 

 

Thats exactly what happened to me, I left my gear in the Car.

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I just saw this...  yes, heat is the major factor in lubricants melting and running places they shouldn't.  

 

Use a light-colored bag that "breathes."  Don't leave your gear in the car in Manila...  or indoors in a bag next to a window that gets sun.   Just to tell you how hot it can get, when I lived on Guam, I was at the beach one day, and left a portable AM/FM radio in the back of my hatchback car.  I returned a couple of hours later to find that the front of the radio got hot enough to melt the plastic.  The entire front of the radio sagged just like a Dali piece.   That taught me a valuable lesson.

 

There's no necessity to return a lens to Germany for a cleaning though.  Any competent camera repair shop ought to be able to clean, reassemble, lube and collimate a lens to factory specs.  I recently had my 65mm Viso-Elmar overhauled by my local repair shop (and he also cleaned up the fungus that it had acquired.)  He only had it a few days and the cost was very reasonable. 

 

Ahhhhh Guam. Another garden spot in the middle of.....................................nowhere.

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I understand from Malcolm Taylor that the 'problem' comes with lenses which have the aperture blades immediately behind the front element. Thus with my 3.5 and 2.8 Elmar 50s and the 90 Elmarit he recommended that I leave them at full aperture when not in use so there is less chance of any oil on the blades evaporating onto the glass element surface

 

Gerry

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I understand from Malcolm Taylor that the 'problem' comes with lenses which have the aperture blades immediately behind the front element. Thus with my 3.5 and 2.8 Elmar 50s and the 90 Elmarit he recommended that I leave them at full aperture when not in use so there is less chance of any oil on the blades evaporating onto the glass element surface

 

Gerry

 

When you say "full aperture" it means wide open right? (F2)

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Got a reply from Leica USA:

 

Stephen,

 

Nothing about how the lens is stored will prevent this occurrence.  Oil appearing on the blades is typically the result of the internal lubricating grease breaking down from exposure to high temperatures and running to places it shouldn’t be.

 

Best regards,

 

This is the heart of the matter.

 

When I worked in a camera shop, I would have a hobbyist bring in a lens with oily blades 3-4 times a month.  When questioned, I invariably discovered that he/she had left their camera and lens in their car during a hot day in mid summer.  I also noticed that none of the pro shooters who frequented our shop ever had this problem.

 

Bottom line:  If it is too hot for you to sit in a parked car with the windows closed up with no air conditioning, it is too hot to leave your camera and lenses in the car - or in the trunk of the car.  Where do you draw the line?  I draw it at 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius, particularly on sunny days when the sun will turn your car into a camera baking kiln.

 

But then on the other hand, don't leave your cameras and lenses in the car to begin with.  That is the best way to avoid heat damage as well as smash and grab theft.

Edited by Carlos Danger
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When you say "full aperture" it means wide open right? (F2)

Yes, thats right. Apparently the lubricant on the blades evaporates onto the close lens surface and etches the surface. My 2.8 Elmar 50 had to have a new front element for this reason, and Malcolm Taylor said he has seen many like it.

Before the repair it had a 'veiling flare' that an apo Summicron would have been proud of.

 

Gerry

Edited by gyoung
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  • 2 months later...

This is the heart of the matter.

 

When I worked in a camera shop, I would have a hobbyist bring in a lens with oily blades 3-4 times a month.  When questioned, I invariably discovered that he/she had left their camera and lens in their car during a hot day in mid summer.  I also noticed that none of the pro shooters who frequented our shop ever had this problem.

 

Bottom line:  If it is too hot for you to sit in a parked car with the windows closed up with no air conditioning, it is too hot to leave your camera and lenses in the car - or in the trunk of the car.  Where do you draw the line?  I draw it at 75 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 degrees Celsius, particularly on sunny days when the sun will turn your car into a camera baking kiln.

 

But then on the other hand, don't leave your cameras and lenses in the car to begin with.  That is the best way to avoid heat damage as well as smash and grab theft.

 

Having now 3 Leica-M lenses with slight oil appearing on the blades, one for the third time, this is a very annoying problem.

 

I often see this 'left in the car' argument presented - indeed it is what Leica pretty much insisted when I sent a lens to them the first time with oil on the blades.

I would never leave a lens in a car, not only because it gets hot, but because it might be stolen! I don't leave my 10 year old plastic Arnette sunglasses in my car, or my loose change, let alone a $4000 camera lens!

 

I store my lenses in my house in the coolest, shaded place I can find but, like the OP, I live in a hot and humid country. It gets hot here! I might not leave my lenses in a hot car but I often have to get into a hot car and drive around. Every day I have to walk around in this 'sunburnt country'. My lenses are either attached to the end of my camera attached to my hand, or inside my Domke (or Leica) bag, attached to me. I don't live in a reverse cycle air conditioned house (or drive a luxury German car) but my house isn't particularly hot, being well shaded from the Northern (sun-facing) aspect.

 

 

I always store my lenses wide open but it seems the best way is to store them fully stopped down. I've read it many times but can't remember the exact reason.

 

I always store my lenses stopped all the way down and stood on the rear cap, I believe so the aperture blades aren't stacked on top of each other is the reason to prevent oil transfer, but when the oil appears I leave them wide open and wait and hope.

 

The three with oil have all had the latest appearance in the last couple of months. We haven't had a day over 30C and average (for here) humidity during that time (it is Autumn here), so not even particularly hot by Australian standards. Does anyone else live in a warm, humid climate and have the same issue? 

 

The recommended Operating Temperature for an M-P is 0-40C (I can't find anything official for lenses or humidity.)

 

Anecdotally, this issue seems fairly common, especially with the 50 Lux ASPH (one of the three I have with oil.) 

 

It feels like I have to buy a Dry Box of some kind to eliminate home storage from the equation and then still wait and see if just being in the hot, humid Sydney environment still causes it.

A CLA here is hundreds of dollars every time it occurs.

 

Anyone have a link to something they recommend for storage, or suggestions? Thanks.

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Having now 3 Leica-M lenses with slight oil appearing on the blades, one for the third time, this is a very annoying problem.

 

I often see this 'left in the car' argument presented - indeed it is what Leica pretty much insisted when I sent a lens to them the first time with oil on the blades.

I would never leave a lens in a car, not only because it gets hot, but because it might be stolen! I don't leave my 10 year old plastic Arnette sunglasses in my car, or my loose change, let alone a $4000 camera lens!

 

I store my lenses in my house in the coolest, shaded place I can find but, like the OP, I live in a hot and humid country. It gets hot here! I might not leave my lenses in a hot car but I often have to get into a hot car and drive around. Every day I have to walk around in this 'sunburnt country'. My lenses are either attached to the end of my camera attached to my hand, or inside my Domke (or Leica) bag, attached to me. I don't live in a reverse cycle air conditioned house (or drive a luxury German car) but my house isn't particularly hot, being well shaded from the Northern (sun-facing) aspect.

 

 

 

I always store my lenses stopped all the way down and stood on the rear cap, I believe so the aperture blades aren't stacked on top of each other is the reason to prevent oil transfer, but when the oil appears I leave them wide open and wait and hope.

 

The three with oil have all had the latest appearance in the last couple of months. We haven't had a day over 30C and average (for here) humidity during that time (it is Autumn here), so not even particularly hot by Australian standards. Does anyone else live in a warm, humid climate and have the same issue? 

 

The recommended Operating Temperature for an M-P is 0-40C (I can't find anything official for lenses or humidity.)

 

Anecdotally, this issue seems fairly common, especially with the 50 Lux ASPH (one of the three I have with oil.) 

 

It feels like I have to buy a Dry Box of some kind to eliminate home storage from the equation and then still wait and see if just being in the hot, humid Sydney environment still causes it.

A CLA here is hundreds of dollars every time it occurs.

 

Anyone have a link to something they recommend for storage, or suggestions? Thanks.

 

Strange.

 

Leica NJ tech guy says Leica lenses (and the dry lubricant used in them) are rated for use in temperatures up to 140 F or 60 C; it is possible for the internal temperature of the lens and therefore the dry lubricant to exceed that temperature inside a car, but it would be unbearable for a human to be in a car that hot for any length of time.

Edited by Carlos Danger
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