Is Cigarette Smoke Damaging to Cameras?
I bought a Nikon N90s that seems to be in nice shape, except it stinks of cigarette smoke. Out of the packaging, the stink was obvious, but I have managed to lessen it with some cleaning. The cleaning has been more effective on the exterior, as I can do only so much with the interior, but I have at least lessened the smell on the inside, too. In any case, is cigarette smoke damaging to cameras? I have some time left to return the camera, if necessary.
Also, does anyone have any further advice on cleaning? I have used mostly alcohol and vinegar thus far.
Last edited by FilmOnly; 07-09-2012 at 08:07 AM. Click to view previous post history.
It's not good for cameras that's for sure. It contains a number of very sticky chemicals that will coat electronics, AF sensors, exposure meters, optics, etc. And it will ALWAYS smell like an ash tray. With the abundance of affordable N90s cameras in the world, I'd return it for a cleaner copy.
Sticky tar residue can't possibly be good for the camera. I think, more important question would be, can you stand the smell of tobacco every time you use your camera? I can't.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Yes. If it is a German camera it causes Limburger's Syndrome, a rare disease which reduces the camera's value by at least half.
But, in your case, it is a Japanese camera which is, sadly, much worse. The cigarette smoke causes reverse-bokeh astigmatism which results in the images it takes to all have sharp backgrounds, thus rendering the camera useless to all hipster photographers.
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I lived in a bar from the time I was born till the time I went away to college. The whole place was always filled with smoke. You could wet a napkin and wipe the stuff off the walls. It would come off dark brown.
Although smoke can degrade paper, fabric or wood it never seemed to do permanent damage to hard surfaces. Yes, it makes things gummy, dirty and smelly but it could always be cleaned off with enough work.
AFAIC, that's the problem... the work. The smoke and the resin will cloud optics and gum up mechanisms requiring a lot of work to keep them clean, clear and working correctly. The smell and the look add insult to injury.
Windex has always done well at cleaning off smoke. You're going to want something more than just alcohol. I think you'll want some kind of detergent in the mix.
Every year or so, we had to clean the walls in the bar. We did it with Murphy's Oil Soap, a bucket of water and a rag.
After only a small section of cleaning, the water would be nearly black!
I would say to use Windex for exterior (non-critical) surfaces.
Use lens cleaner for the optics like normal. Just be more meticulous.
For interior areas, alcohol will work.
For film-bearing surfaces, trichlorethane or denatured alcohol. (Keep away from plastic! These things could melt or craze plastic!)
That's, pretty much, how we clean movie projectors.
Last edited by Worker 11811; 07-09-2012 at 08:35 AM. Click to view previous post history.
This might be a little unorthodox, but it's worked for me. Take off the lens, the back, and anything else that comes off like the battery cover, even the focus screen; then leave the camera to air out for a while, preferably in the sun (that's the unorthodox part... usual advice is to keep our cameras out of the sun!). I would not advise leaving it in the sun for a long time, or letting the sun strike the viewfinder directly... but instead do this in short stretches repeated a few times, maybe an hour a day? The ultraviolet light should break down some of the organic compounds causing the odor. It also helps kill mildew ... I've done this to fungus-affected lenses with some success and also my Yashica Lynx 5000e which stank of smoke and mold when I bought it, but is fine now. Of course it's a metal camera and the N90 has a lot of plastic, so be careful.
“For me, the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity.”
― Henri Cartier-Bresson
Personally I'd return it. Though if you decide to keep it get some Frebreze at any Target, Walmart or similar. In the air freshener dept. Spray some lightly on a cloth and wipe away. Very good odor eliminator. I bought a grey Contax T2 off eBay from a Japanese seller. It was in fine working order but obviously had been in a fire or near one. The camera was not damaged in any way I can see but reeked severely of bad stale house-fire smoke smell. A few sessions of careful Febreze cleaning/wiping eliminated the smell. I also got a camera bag used once from someone on a forum. Great price but obviously from a smoker. Same thing. Febreze took care of the smell.
I decided to return the "smoky" N90s. I did enough to try to de-smoke-ify it, and did not want to take the chance of having a problem. The KEH rep. said that they do not factor in "smell" as part of their evaluation and grading. I replied that they should, as smoke can be damaging to electronics...and some people are allergic to smoke.
A "smoky" camera? How very strange. Can you imagine how he/she used it: light smoke, grip it in corner of mouth, raise camera, puff, puff, puff... eugh—! Don't know about others, but if I could smell cigarette smoke on a camera, it would be immediately ruled out, along with the place I was dealing with, which should have higher standards of respect for the public.
.::Gary Rowan Higgins
One beautiful image is worth
a thousand hours of therapy.
"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government
to save the environment."