Musty odor in old camera

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by NWM, Feb 3, 2008.

  1. NWM

    NWM Member

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    Hi, I just bought a used Nikon EM on ebay. The camera is in good working condition and looks great. The problem is that it has a musty odor which seems to eminate from the leather body covering. I put the camera in a zip lock bag with a baking soda odor absorbing canister[made by Arm and Hammer] for about 4 weeks, this helped some but I can still smell the mustiness. I should also mention that I changed the light seals and mirror foam due to some light leakage. Does anyone know of a safe and inexpensive way to get this musty smell out of the camera. I would greatly appreciate any and all advise.:confused:
     
  2. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Wipe down the camera inside and outside with vinegar (seriously). Then just let it sit.

    Most of it will take time to dissipate. I've received cameras that belonged to smokers, and those take from a couple of weeks to a couple of months to lose the odor.

    But the cameras will always need to be wiped down first. Ideally, you would want to get under the top deck as well, as mustiness generally comes from being stored in a cool damp place, which is the ideal playground for mold.

    You could also use some saddle soap to clean the leather. Follow that up with some shoe polish and buff to a nice sheen. Again, I'm serious about this.
     
  3. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

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    Given the baking soda treatment, it may be that the smell is from the new foam seals. Sometimes the glue used and the plasticizers in the foam used can give off an odor for a while.

    If the camera works well, don't worry about the smell - let others suffer for your art for a change!! Just use the camera, leave it out in the air and I'm sure it'll slowly dissipate.

    Enjoy it!

    Bob
     
  4. patrickjames

    patrickjames Member

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    Leave it out in the sun for a couple of days. This has helped me in the past.
     
  5. BobbyR

    BobbyR Member

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    Taking the negative view here, that it might have been held by someone with pee on their hands, Lemon juice works best, better than vinegar at absolutely neutralizing the compounds.
    I have cat, who when I am gone too long like to pee on things and the lemon juice, left on to dry eliminates the odor; you may then wipe it with distilled water if you choose.
    I have cleaned several mattresses from urine brown to undetectable that way, but I also use a wet-dry vac to remove both later.
     
  6. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I would try the same "Armor All" type of silicone spray that I use to clean the plastic in the interior of my car (and all my cameras, and plastic guitar cases, and ...).

    Regards,

    David
     
  7. DannL

    DannL Member

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    That smell is actually the lingering essence of experience, wisdom, and creativity. It is very infectious and can cause sudden bouts of enthusiasm and pure genius. I suggest leaving it be. Breathe deep and enjoy.
     
  8. pauliej

    pauliej Member

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    Or, there may be a dead mouse inside. Seriously, be sure you dont make things worse by putting too much liquid on (like vinegar or lemon/orange cleaner) and let the liquid get down into the fiddly-bits. Dab on with a sponge or cloth and wipe off quickly, you should be able to get any outside crud/smell off and make it better. I hope this helps you.

    Paul
     
  9. GM Bennett

    GM Bennett Member

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    I picked up a very clean Super Baldax last year, but the leatherette had a kind of musty smell. I believe it was someone in the photo.net brain trust who suggested placing the camera in a baggie with coffee grounds for a few days, and it actually has made a big difference. And, zero calories...
     
  10. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    or put it in a box full of crumpled newspaper sheets. That's suppose to work for books anyway. I don't mind the old smell on my old cameras.
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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  12. rpsawin

    rpsawin Subscriber

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    I find swinging the camera counter clockwise over my head in the light of a full moon to be of marginal use....

    Sorry for that.

    Bob
     
  13. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    OK, pee on hands gets my vote for the scariest scenario. I imagine it must have happened routinely and frequently to have contibuted that strongly to the camera's essence.

    Scenario #2, a dead mouse inside would be explainable as a natural probability. Scenario #1 just ain't right. Or maybe I'm sheltered.

    Hmm, is it only on the left or right side? (from viewer or user position, I don't care).
     
  14. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    The musty smell is likely a bit of mold in the leather.

    The body may be treated with two or three gentle applications of hydrogen peroxide. Leave to dry very well then use some black shoe polish.

    The idea of leaving for a few days, wrapped in a tea towel, then in a plastic bag with fresh ground coffee is a good idea.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2008
  15. NWM

    NWM Member

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    Thank You all for your help. I tried the lemon juice and it did a great job! Although I think the dead mouse is there to stay. Thanks for the humor. Happy shooting Film and Digital!