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camera from a smoking household?
Old 02-01-2010   #1
northeast16th
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camera from a smoking household?

I bought a used Leica dirt cheap and only noticed after I got it home that it smelled like smoke, as if it had been in a smoking household for a long time. The smell just sticks to the thing.

I don't really care what it smells like, but I'm just wondering if this will in any way affect the film that I run through it. Like if some film sat in there for a week, would it degrade the quality of the film. Also, is there any technique that anyone knows of to try to just deaden that smell, or is it going to be there forever.

Like I said, I don't really mind shooting with it, but I want to know if anyone knows if it's going to screw with the quality of the film. Funny thing is I would say it was in mint minus condition except for this smoke smell issue. Not a damn scratch or ding on the thing.

Thanks for any words of wisdom,

NE16TH
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Old 02-01-2010   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northeast16th View Post
I bought a used Leica dirt cheap and only noticed after I got it home that it smelled like smoke, as if it had been in a smoking household for a long time. The smell just sticks to the thing.

I don't really care what it smells like, but I'm just wondering if this will in any way affect the film that I run through it. Like if some film sat in there for a week, would it degrade the quality of the film. Also, is there any technique that anyone knows of to try to just deaden that smell, or is it going to be there forever.

Like I said, I don't really mind shooting with it, but I want to know if anyone knows if it's going to screw with the quality of the film. Funny thing is I would say it was in mint minus condition except for this smoke smell issue. Not a damn scratch or ding on the thing.

Thanks for any words of wisdom,

NE16TH
Well, folks like myself and Tom A. love to smoke our pipes while out shooting, and the sepia toned black and whites are lovely!
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Old 02-01-2010   #3
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you could try putting the camera in a box with some crumpled up newspaper . if your shoes stink newspaper is supposed to help absorb the smell . might help but i don't know how long you would have to leave it in .
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Old 02-01-2010   #4
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depends what kinda smoke - film may transport real slow if it was a certain type of `smoke'

ps. this will be just the start of many

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Old 02-01-2010   #5
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I wash windows for a living. And the film left on the glass does has a smell to it. It comes off with a vinegar added to the water,. I'm guessing a strip down CLA would solve the problem. It may have a film on the inside of the VF lenses too. If the guy/gal keep a cig in their mouth as they took pictures. you know, the smoke stream encompassing the body as they used it., you could use a light vinegar water on a damp to dry rag to wipe down the outer body..mostly the skin I'd guess, again. at your own risk.....
Let's see who has done this....seems reasonable to me, with caution used of course.

Edit:
But, then again, it does add some character to the camera
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Old 02-01-2010   #6
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Dave said: "Well, folks like myself and Tom A. love to smoke our pipes while out shooting, and the sepia toned black and whites are lovely!"

Perhaps we can have a "pipe and camera" pic match? Your favorite combination. I have not tried that yet, shooting and smoking my pipe at the same time. I've reserved mine for the back porch.
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Old 02-01-2010   #7
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I had this problem with a camera I bought a while back... here's what you do: Go buy a box of the Arm and Hammer pet deodorizer, the kind you sprinkle on carpets then vacuum up (or regular baking soda will work too... but it takes longer). Now you need some kind of air tight container... I used an old aquarium.. but tupperware or even a plastic bag will work. put a bunch of the powder in the bottom of the container, as much as you can fit, then place the camera on the pile of powder gently... you don't want it to get all over the camera, it just needs to be near it. Then seal it all up and let it sit for a couple days to a week.. depending on the level of smell. When you're done just brush the camera off well to make sure no powder remains and you're good to go.

I've found this works wonders with all types of smells... you can put the camera on a piece of cardboard if you're not comfortable placing it right on the powder. If the camera is really smoke filled, inside and out.. open the back or disassemble it as much as possible before putting it in with the powder.
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Old 02-01-2010   #8
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Putting the camera in a sealed bag with freshly-mown grass also may work.
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Old 02-01-2010   #9
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Sweet, thanks for the advice. I suppose in a tupperware container with the deodorizer with the camera on a little rack so it is close to the powder but not touching would be ideal. That's a brilliant idea. I'll give it a whirl. The damn nice thing is the camera is so cherry except for that damn smell. Will report back on success or failure.

NE16TH
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Old 02-01-2010   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by northeast16th View Post
Like if some film sat in there for a week, would it degrade the quality of the film.
Nope.


Quote:
Originally Posted by northeast16th View Post
Also, is there any technique that anyone knows of to try to just deaden that smell, or is it going to be there forever.
Forget it. I´ve dealt with this issue a several times, tried everything people recommended on the forums. The only way to get rid of the smell is to wait. Takes year or longer. (Unless you´re a smoker yourself...)
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Old 02-01-2010   #11
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We do picture framing for a living. Often we get oil paintings from the 40s, 50s and 60s. (when smoking was healthy) The paintings are often covered with a layer of cigarette smoke that discolors the white areas of the painting. Nicotine is a big part of it.

Nicotine will dissolve in alcohol, I use isopropyl alcohol from the druggist that contains no lubricants like rubbing alcohol. Vodka is perhaps a little better!! (really)

I do this with a camera that stinks like a old ashtray:
-Clean the camera with a clean cloth and Q tips using something like Windex. Spray the cleaner on the cloth, not the camera.

-Then use a cloth dampened with the alcohol or I will scrub the leather using a toothbrush and alcohol. My Leicas have a synthetic covering not leather so the nicotine would be on the surface.

-When dry, place the camera in a sock, or wrap it in a cotton tea towel then stuff it into a bag with a 1/2 cup of coffee grounds for a few days.

Seems to work
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Old 02-01-2010   #12
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I bought an M2 in Prague a while ago and it smelled like pee. (My girlfriend said that someone wasn't using it as a urinal and it was just a typical East European aroma.) It wasn't especially strong -- I only noticed it when it was held close to my nose to take a photo.

After a few months the smell faded a lot. Now it is almost completely gone, a year-and-a-half later.
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Old 02-01-2010   #13
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I'd be more concerned about tar residue mucking up the glass or moving parts rather than any potential film degradation. If someone smoked enough to make a mostly metal object in their home smell like smoke, the camera has had extensive, long term exposure to air permeated with smoke. Smoke leaves a sticky tar behind when it settles. I recall having to clean it off of the inside of my car windshield regularly when I was a smoker.
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Old 02-01-2010   #14
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I'm plus one for DisasterArea's baking soda in a box solution. Worked on mine just fine. Make sure to take the baseplate off and leave the back door open to allow for better circulation.
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Old 02-01-2010   #15
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I encountered this situation when I bought a camera bag on Ebay that was a Domke knock off. When it arrived the smell of cigarette smoke made it quite obnoxious to be around. I researched for ways to get rid of the smell and found that the product Febreeze has ingredients in it that get rid of the smell of cigarette smoke. I sprayed it on the bag quite heavily and left it out in the sun to dry. In a few days, the smell seemed to be almost all gone.

Don't know if using this would work with your camera, but thought I'd share my experience with the camera bag and how Febreeze got rid of the smell in it.

Good luck.

Ellen
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Old 02-01-2010   #16
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Kitty litter.
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Old 02-01-2010   #17
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Kitty litter.
New or used?
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Old 02-01-2010   #18
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New or used?
Either way, the smoke smell will no longer be a problem.

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Old 02-01-2010   #19
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Super high proof liquor, preferably something distilled many times so that the spirit is neutral in odor and flavor (think vodka or "white lightning"). Isopropyl alcohol also works.

Fill a bottle cap with a bit of the liquor then dip a q-tip and swab down the camera, all over. You never want to put enough where it's dripping. Also, be sure get it into the viewfinder or the rangefinder window.

I've cleaned several really dirty yard sale cameras and lenses this way to great result. Smoke Odors were never a problem but the cameras smelled of must and mildew for sure. In some cases I had to swab the camera down 3 or 4 times but eventually they got clean.
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Old 02-01-2010   #20
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Put inside a plastic container with lid, open the bottom plate and back take out the lens then put in charcoal let it stay for a week or two replacing the charcoal every 2 days. Charcoal will absorb the foul odor. Btw, you need to use real charcoal.
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Old 02-01-2010   #21
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Lighter fluid may work too.
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Old 02-01-2010   #22
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Quote:
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Put inside a plastic container with lid, open the bottom plate and back take out the lens then put in charcoal let it stay for a week or two replacing the charcoal every 2 days. Charcoal will absorb the foul odor. Btw, you need to use real charcoal.
Not the presoaked ready-light kind?
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Old 02-01-2010   #23
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A nice cleanup with Simple Green has worked for me in the past.
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Old 02-01-2010   #24
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I work in a camera store in a pretty hippy-esque town. We had a used Canon AE-1 come in smelling like Patchouli. it stunk up the whole used camera case.
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Old 02-01-2010   #25
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The simplest alternative of course is for you to take up smoking. It is after all a Leica we are talking about here!
A friend once brought me a Leica III with the Mooly Motor on it. The whole thing was brown, covering, chrome - everything. At least the previous owner was a man of taste - it was some decent Cuban Cigar's that had done it.
I cleaned it with alcohol - was going for single Malt - but figured that was better in me than on the camera. The baking soda trick does help too - after the initial clean with "rubbing alcohol". The inside was unaffected, though there was some fog in the viewfinder, but that was simply age - not smoking related.
As for Pipe's, Tobacco etc - just as with cameras - I am keeping it simple. Leica M2's, Three Nun's Tobacco (None Nicer!) and Petersen pipes (meerschaum and briar). Only problem is that Three Nuns is no longer available in Canada/Us. Japan, yes - Europe,yes. It is not the cost of the tobacco that is a killer - it is the transportation.
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Old 02-01-2010   #26
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I've also had this experience -- smoky camera. Considered sending it back, never used it. Sometime later, more than 1 yr, I was cataloging cameras, noticed the smell was gone. Have not checked for deposit on the lens.

Just in case you are reluctant to use some of the more active methods.
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Old 02-01-2010   #27
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"It is not the cost of the tobacco that is a killer - it is the transportation."

Opportunity here for some dark humour.
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Old 02-01-2010   #28
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Just dont get busted if the police dog detects the wrong kind of smoke odor!
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Old 02-01-2010   #29
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I've cleaned my used cameras, some with cigarette smell, with lemon lysol direct, sprayed on a white terry cloth. Then clean all the surfaces, careful of the glass. Then come back with lens cleaner on the opticals. Seems to work ok to get rid of the smell.

I know the isopropyl works well because I used it to clean a pipe out. Called "Pipe sweetner". It also has a minty flavor, and perhaps you could try that. Takes the tar, nicotine and all the finish off the pipe if you are not careful.

Tom...

Perhaps Cornell & Diehl "Three Friars" from pipesandcigars.com would be close and the shipping is priority mail. Although I am still waiting now one week for my Troost and Acadiana Perique. Their prices on Petersons doesn't seem too bad.
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Old 02-01-2010   #30
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I think a few weeks in a closed container w/ a an open box of baking soda will remove the odor.
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Old 02-01-2010   #31
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Replacing the vulcanite should help to speed up the odour removal process.
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Old 02-01-2010   #32
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I asked this question of RFF some years ago. The solution that worked for me (and was super-easy and already on hand) was baby wipes.

Scary what we put against our baby's skin.
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Old 02-01-2010   #33
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I recently received a Nikon F4 that smelled strongly of smoke. Wiped it down with a fresh dryer sheet and the smell disappear instantly. Also wiped the outside of the Domke bag in came in and then put the dryer sheet in the bag and closed it up for a week. No smell in the bag.
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Old 02-02-2010   #34
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I bought a lens from someone in the USA and he posted it to me in Australia in excellent packing which included a padded lens bag. The shipment was delayed in customs for quite a few days (unusual) and when I received it there was customs tape all over the box and the lens case had the unmistakable aroma of marijuana. They use sniffer dogs to identify suspicious parcels.

If using aroma absorbing chemicals don't allow any fine dust to get on the camera, because they can promote corrosion. Maybe one of those Tupperware salad containers could be used, with the powder under the insert that is used to keep the salad above the condensation in the bottom of the container.
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Old 02-07-2010   #35
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So far I have put it in a cooler with baking soda, but that didn't do too terribly much. I did notice a slight difference, but not much at all. Then I got the kitty litter and filled up the cooler so there was only enough space to put the camera, and because it's not pure powder, I gently placed the camera on top of the litter without a piece of plastic which I'd been using for the baking soda. It might be the proximity or that there is less open air in the container, but the kitty litter seems to be working better and faster. When I take the camera out I remove it ever so gently and use a clean dry brush to wipe off the litter or dust on the camera. It is getting noticeably better pretty quick. Just to be safe I think I'll leave it in there for a week or two, and then I think problem will be solved.

Thanks for all the responses. Much help, and now I've got a cherry (and clean smelling) near mint camera. Only problem is now my wife says she wants to get a cat.

Last edited by northeast16th : 02-07-2010 at 10:51.
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Test your shutter speeds.
Old 02-07-2010   #36
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Test your shutter speeds.

Also check your aperture for free movement.

I have worked on computers for numerous years. Over that time I have seen more than one (but probably less than a half dozen) computers where the "tars" from cigarette smoke have invaded the electrical contacts and broken connections, requiring simply taking the computer apart at all the electrical connections and using a cleaner spray made for such a purpose.

In all cases, such a dismantling, cleaning contacts and re-assembly have put those computers back in service.

I don't know about cameras, but I can surely imagine that the clockworks in shutters and fine tolerances in apertures could be affected by residues of cigarette smoke. (ie. somewhat like lungs)
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Old 02-07-2010   #37
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Thanks for all the responses. Much help, and now I've got a cherry (and clean smelling) near mint camera. Only problem is now my wife says she wants to get a cat.
Now be sure to get the litter smell off the camera! If she gets a cat - you could end up wishing for a smoke smelling camera!
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I know this is an old thread but...
Old 06-27-2019   #38
Derek Leath
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I know this is an old thread but...

I use dryer sheets. I sat the camera on top for a few days, and the smell went away.
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Old 06-27-2019   #39
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You should smell FSU cameras, especially those that come with a case Love those cameras though.

Marcelo
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Old 06-27-2019   #40
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Super high proof liquor, preferably something distilled many times so that the spirit is neutral in odor and flavor (think vodka or "white lightning"). Isopropyl alcohol also works.

Fill a bottle cap with a bit of the liquor then dip a q-tip and swab down the camera, all over. You never want to put enough where it's dripping. Also, be sure get it into the viewfinder or the rangefinder window.

I've cleaned several really dirty yard sale cameras and lenses this way to great result. Smoke Odors were never a problem but the cameras smelled of must and mildew for sure. In some cases I had to swab the camera down 3 or 4 times but eventually they got clean.
I use Everclear or Golden Grain 190 proof alcohol to clean lenses and camera bodies. Some of the denaturing ingredents in rubbing alcohol can attack plastic or lens coatings.
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