Oil Inside My Lens?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by winternight, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. winternight

    winternight Member

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    Greetings everyone, I was inspecting one of my lenses, my Canon FD F3.5 135mm and when I looked inside, I could see a brownish substance which looks a lot like oil coming out from where the screws are on the inside of the lens. Is this a bad issue? Will it affect how the lens works, or cause the lens to work incorrectly? Or possibly harm my camera?
     
  2. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Yes, yes, and probably not.
     
  3. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    I don't know for sure. I'm only guessing, here.

    I don't know why there would be any oil or grease inside a lens. Not enough to leak out, anyway.
    If there is any lubricant inside a lens, it should be a very light coating. Too much grease or oil on small, precision parts causes more trouble than it's worth.

    Could somebody have worked on it before you got the lens? That person might have put lube inside it.

    The only other thing I can think of that might leak out of a lens is balsam cement.
    Some lenses have their elements cemented together. Balsam is basically tree sap. It's distilled and purified but its source is the balsam tree.
    The thing is, once the cement sets, it should become solid. I can't imagine why it would run out unless it was subjected to heat.

    Most modern lenses don't use balsam, anymore. They are usually air gapped at precise tolerance.
    Balsam can turn yellow or become cloudy over time.

    That, having been said, I have seen movie projector lenses that have cemented elements which were overheated because some dummy projected white light through an open gate. In those cases, the cement does melt and get bubbles in it. I suppose, in extreme cases, it could run out.

    Again, this is all just supposition.
    I don't know any reason a lens should have enough oil or grease inside that it would leak out.
    I don't know whether your lens has cemented elements.
    Further, I can't imagine why oil, grease or cement would run out of a lens unless it was improperly repaired or subjected to abuse, especially extreme heat such as being left in an extremely hot car for a long time.

    In any case, if the lens has been abused in the past (before you owned it?) there should be other symptoms. If it's a lens that you value and want to use, I'd have it looked at.
     
  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Old grease separates into a waxy component and a runny liquid component. The runny liquid component runs all over the inside of the lens if it's left there long enough.

    Balsam is a resin, it is not tree sap. It is filtered, but it is not distilled either.
     
  5. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I had a lens once with a little oil on the aperture blades. I used it for a few years with no problems. Fortunately, it never got any worse.

    I later sold it because I sold the camera that it went with. I fully disclosed the oil problem of course.
     
  6. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Guilty of oversimplification... Balsam is a resinous, saplike substance obtained from the Canadian balsam fir tree which has been filtered, purified or processed in some way to make it suitable for use as an optical cement.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 17, 2012
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I recently recemented a RR on an old folding Kodak that was my grandfather's. I used balsam collected from local trees, the only processing neccesary was to warm it, and let the particulate matter settle out. I figured it was worth a try.:smile:
     
  8. Worker 11811

    Worker 11811 Member

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    Cool! :cool:
     
  9. winternight

    winternight Member

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    The grease has not run all over the lens, fortunately, but might the way its stored cause the oil to leak? I leave my lens inside of its case oil in lens 1.jpg standing up with the front of the lens pointing up. I have also included a photo of the substance to see if possible some of you could possible help me any further, because I really really appreciate all the help the great people of this great forum have helped me with.
     
  10. winternight

    winternight Member

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    *I inserted a picture, but somehow it got placed in the wrong part of the message.
     
  11. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I don't think storage had anything to do with it. I recently sold my five Zeiss lenses from my Contax 139 camera. They were from the early 80's and were always stored the same way and never had any oil problems.
     
  12. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Storing the lens in a hot environment could cause the grease to deteriorate faster. The fact that oil is present means the lens must be disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled with new grease, not oil. Get it serviced, this is the only solution.
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Do not trust those Canadians! Especially the Canadiens! They are all living close to our northern boarder just waiting for an opportunity to attach and take us over! They even want to ship their tar sands to us!
     
  14. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    All the siriusness aside from the previous post, this advice is spot on.
     
  15. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Ummm, you do know that the Adirondaks are not in Canada, right? :wink:

    Edit - And now that I've actually looked at the picture the OP posted, I must say that whatever is in the lens, next to that screw, it isn't oil. Looks like some sort of cement to prevent the screw loosening.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2012
  16. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Sure, that is why I said that using a local sap was better than the Canadian/Canadien saps.
     
  17. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    But it came from canada balsam trees.....:laugh: I should have checked for green cards.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2012
  18. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I should have elaborated more. I meant storage position. You are of course right about storage in a hot environment.

    It may be cheaper to buy another used one depending on how much it costs to service it.