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Scented camera!
Old 03-25-2017   #1
rfaspen
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Angry Scented camera!

OK, I just bought a camera that is extremely scented. Apparently, the previous owner is a cologne wearer and the camera is thoroughly scented with this god-awful stench.

So, to the chase. What can I do? I would prefer to find a way to remove the stench from this camera such that I can keep it and use it.

Anyone know an idea? I've already rubbed it down with isopropyl alcohol, and then rubbed it down with vinegar, and then with a baking soda paste. It still stinks bad.

Help.
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Old 03-25-2017   #2
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Think logically.
Scent molecules are aliphatic alcohols or esters. The isopropyl alcohol should have removed them from the metal and painted surfaces.

What's left?
The leather covering or vulcanite may have absorbed the molecules. Most likely on the back, where the camera may touch the face or neck when being used. (Another reason why I always use half cases - to prevent my nose / face grease from getting embedded into the back of the camera).

Scent molecules are volatile (that's how they get into your nose), so prolonged airing out and patience may be the first step. Maybe put it under a desk lamp to warm it up a bit and speed up the evaporation process?

The second step may be to use a leather cleaner. You can follow up with a conditioner also. These products are oily / greasy, and may dissolve the scent molecules enough to dilute them out onto your cleaning cloth.

If airing out and leather cleaner doesn't get rid of the odor, then the "nuclear option": you'd probably have to change the leather covering.
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Old 03-25-2017   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lai View Post
...
What's left?
The leather covering or vulcanite ...

If prolonged airing out doesn't get rid of the odor, then you'd probably have to change the leather covering...
... and all of the old adhesive. The adhesives used to glue the cover will also absorb odors as will the semi-solid grease type lube.

Strong perfume odor can damage film if strong enough and/or exposure is long enough. Modern (read: since early to mid 1970s) films are more resistant, but it can still happen.
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Old 03-25-2017   #4
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rub it with dryer sheets. Also a good wipe with Febreze.
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Old 03-25-2017   #5
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I completely empathize, I've had to return cameras that reeked.

I recently came across these mesh bags filled with some pumice type stone, I successfully managed to remove cologne smell from a seat belt in my work vehicle that someone else had driven. My eyes watered when I got in the car.

I'd set the camera on this bag and seal them both up in a plastic bag for a few days.

The bag of rocks I got was in the cleaning supplies aisle at Home Depot.

Good luck!
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Old 03-25-2017   #6
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Thanks for the ideas everyone!

I will first have to eliminate the dryer sheet and Fabreeze option. Those are both just as bad as the original stench. I didn't mention in the OP, but I have a potentially fatal "allergy" to many synthetic fragrances. The fragrance used in dryer sheets will kill me in short order. I have been sent to the hospital from walking by a laundromat! Its not a fun thing. Makes me an odd person, but actually there are millions of people with this affliction worldwide.

I have pulled scents to a moderate degree with alcohol before, but never enough. These synthetic fragrances are engineered to be persistent *and* volatile. To me, that's pure evil. Vinegar has been the same -- helps, but never enough. I have had to throw away good items made of plastic that were "contaminated" and will never be de-scented ever. My fear is the camera plastic has absorbed enough scent to deem this camera un-keepable. This is really unfortunate to the extreme. I looked long for this camera and paid plenty.

Now, pumice bags? This is a brand new thing to me. I am absolutely going to seek these out. I'll try nearly anything.

Right now, the camera is out in the back yard, in the breeze, in the sun. That is the only thing that's worked for a few things in the past.

Also, since this scent doesn't appear to be one that contains the chemical that I am sensitive to, I won't die from using the camera, but it will be so unpleasant I won't use the camera. It's that stenchy. I think the guy applied cologne directly to the camera. He must have. Why?
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Old 03-25-2017   #7
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I wonder if a vacuum (an actual vacuum, not a carpet cleaning machine) would pull the scent out. I've never tried it, and I don't have a ready means of creating the required vacuum, but I wonder......
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Old 03-25-2017   #8
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Smells are half the experience!

Sorry for your condition, sounds exhausting!

No valuable input from me just thought it was an interesting thread.
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Old 03-25-2017   #9
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I fully understand your predicament. The PA at my former doctor's office developed an allergy to scents, and they put up a sign telling everyone to quit using perfume, after shave, and antiperspirant before their appointments.

I used to hang out at a camera shop where the owner also did repairs. As a final step before delivery back to its owner, he would wipe down a camera with a rag treated with Lemon Pledge.

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Old 03-26-2017   #10
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I was pretty much resigned to having to keep wrapping the seat belt of the car with a towel to be able to use it, but the same bag had removed some "freshener" scent from the whole car over the course of a week, so thought I'd give it a go. These bags are recharged by lying them out in the sun. My daughter swears by them for all kinds of odor control.

Fingers crossed here.
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Old 03-26-2017   #11
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That camera (what is the camera that you've been looking for so long?) may have been covered in cologne to mask another smell like mould or maybe the previous owner was a smoker...
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Old 03-26-2017   #12
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The back of my Nikon F5 stunk tobacco smell, obviously the previous owner was smoking while shooting. I rubbed it a lot with baby wipes to remove all the yellow residue from the smoke and after a couple of weeks it did not smelled that much.
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Old 03-26-2017   #13
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Thanks for the continued suggestions and support.

I very much wish it was smoker smell. I can handle that much easier. My 1936 Leica IIIa has a very distinct odor that is the amalgam of a long life, including cigarette smoke. It is not a fully unpleasant odor, and does not contain any modern fragrances in it.

Modern fragrances are a whole new beast. I am not sensitive to pre-1960s fragrances, or any natural fragrance. The new synthetic stuff is designed to stick more permanently to surfaces, and continue to volatilize. Medical institution here in the US is not able or willing to help much. I think its a result of ignorance, if anything. The problem has not been widely studied (not a money maker) and there was a period where it was thought the sensitivity was psychological (all in the head). I do seethe at the suggestion. Today, I'm told I react to a chemical, or class of chemicals, and its not in the head. The symptoms of exposure are quite real and terrifying. The reaction is a mixture of acute asthma and allergic emergency. Almost no help with treatment, only a dangerous asthma treatment that keeps my lungs open, but if I use it more than 4 times in 24 hours I supposedly risk death. The allergists eyes got really wide when I told her I used it 4 or 5 times with recent exposures. As one can imagine, it makes for a delicate life in modern society. I do pretty well with it.

I've finished off the 91% isopropyl alcohol bottle. Wiped the camera down many times. Camera still stinks.

The "bags" from Home Depot are next. Any idea what they were called? I'm heading over there today.
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Old 03-26-2017   #14
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Have you tried Baking Soda in the following manner? It's renowned for pulling smells out of things. To prevent the powder getting where it should not, I would place it in a women's stocking sock which can be bought for one dollar or so for two pairs in a supermarket. Then place this and the camera in a small box just big enough to hold them. I would use a plastic food storage bin also from a supermarket. It may take a few days or even a few weeks of confinement but it may well do the trick. Some where slightly warm would seem best. I use the stuff in our fridge where it soaks up food smells.
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Old 03-26-2017   #15
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Worth trying anything which is not in itself destructive, starting with things which make the camera 'cleaner', especially, yes, the leather. The odor will eventually go away completely, regardless of what you do; it's inherent in the nature of volatility. Fresh air and sunshine (or anything which warms it up slightly to speed up the volatilization) will get it done completely, eventually. Eventually could be a very long time, however. Good luck, just remember there is no reason it needs to be permanent.
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Old 03-26-2017   #16
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I have some Valerian root at the house that I use as a sleep aid (nature's Valium). You could try rubbing a bit of it on there. This stuff will cover up any smell in the known universe, but of course, then you would be stuck w/ a camera that smelled like Valerian root, an odor that could charitably be described as similar to old, moldy socks. Except lots worse.

Seriously, I have no idea. When hurricane Camile slammed through coastal Mississippi back in the day w/ 200+ winds, lots of cars were flooded, and after sitting in the sun for a few weeks w/ the windows rolled up you would not believe how strong that smell was. We discovered that if you sliced up a lot of apples and potatoes and placed them throughout the interior they would absorb the smell. You had to change out the veggies every day because they would reach their saturation point, then add fresh ones, but after a while it worked great. At least long enough to unload the autos to unsuspecting Yankees. We have a long memory of that war :]
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Old 03-26-2017   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
Have you tried Baking Soda?

...
Have you read the original post at all?
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Old 03-26-2017   #18
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I just went through the Home Depot website and didn't see it, but this is the same thing. Saw many charcoal bags as well on Amazon, my daughter uses those as well.


Found it by name on Home Depot Natural Magic Gonzo odor eliminator.
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Old 03-26-2017   #19
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On my way to Home Depot to pick up "Natural Magic Odor Eliminator". Really seems worth a shot. I also read about placing the scented object in a closed container with granulated activated charcoal. I happen to have some that from my aquarium hobby.

Plastic is a tough material to rid of perfume. In most (all?) cases in the past, I had to get rid of the scented thing. I have a laptop power supply in my garage that was owned by a scented person and is still powerfully scented after a decade. I know it seems like perfume-type scents should fully volatilize, but they don't do so in a practical time frame, if ever.

I'm a bit more motivated to remove this scent that with other things I've acquired in the past. Since it is not a scent that contains the deadly chemical, I may be satisfied with reducing the odor to a very low level. For people like me, all perfume-like scents are unpleasant because of the psychological connection with those scents that do illicit the allergic reaction (allergy used in general sense, it might not be a true allergic response).

If I have any success, I will update everyone. I'm quite sure there are more of us out there who have cameras that are un-usable due to perfume/cologne.
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Old 03-26-2017   #20
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rfaspen,
What is this camera that is so rare that you have to go through all of this?

Couldn't you just return it and buy another one?

My wife has anaphylaxis to several food items (e.g.peanuts), as well as severe asthma. So, I do fully empathize with your plight. However, our solution is to just eliminate the problem items from the house.
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Old 03-26-2017   #21
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Activated Carbon.
You can buy pouches of the stuff.
Surround the camera in a baggy. It works.


Like this product
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Old 03-26-2017   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
Have you read the original post at all?
Yes but my approach to using baking soda is different. Did you read my post at all?
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Old 03-26-2017   #23
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I've taken musty clothing to a cleaner who put them in an ozone closet for a few days. This kills mold and mildews. I have no idea what ozone will do to other parts of the camera, but maybe it would react with the scent molecules?
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Old 03-26-2017   #24
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here in Japan, "scented" cameras usually come in tobacco flavour

there is nothing much you can do. You can try putting the camera in a Tupperware with some charcoals and see what happens

There is a scent-removal spray that I used a long time ago on another hobby (car restoration). I forgot the name but it's pretty good with removing stink from upholstery
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Old 03-27-2017   #25
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Time will eventually allow the scent to float away. Leave the camera out in the open air and sunshine for a day or two and see if that doesn't help. Sometimes the potions used to cure will damage so be cautious in applying various cleaning compounds.

I'm a former pipe smoker. When I quit smoking, I could take out a seldom used camera that I had packed away for a while and the pipe tobacco odor was strong. It diminished fairly fast once it was out in the open air.
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Old 03-27-2017   #26
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I once bought an old dot matrix printer off of ebay. It reeked of tobacco. I've bought lots of old electronics which have some tobacco smell. But this thing stunk up any room I put it in. I finally put it in the garage to get the smell out of the house. Then the garage smelled. But interestingly enough after about five days of sitting in a hot garage (in 100F+ Texas summer weather) it stopped smelling. Completely. Now its back in the house and doesn't cause any problems.

The garage was hot enough to get the smell out of the plastics, and large enough to allow the smell to dissipate. You can't really do this in a closed container, even with charcoal to absorb the odors.
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Old 03-27-2017   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfaspen View Post
Thanks for the continued suggestions and support.

I very much wish it was smoker smell. I can handle that much easier. My 1936 Leica IIIa has a very distinct odor that is the amalgam of a long life, including cigarette smoke. It is not a fully unpleasant odor, and does not contain any modern fragrances in it.

Modern fragrances are a whole new beast. I am not sensitive to pre-1960s fragrances, or any natural fragrance. The new synthetic stuff is designed to stick more permanently to surfaces, and continue to volatilize. Medical institution here in the US is not able or willing to help much. I think its a result of ignorance, if anything. The problem has not been widely studied (not a money maker) and there was a period where it was thought the sensitivity was psychological (all in the head). I do seethe at the suggestion. Today, I'm told I react to a chemical, or class of chemicals, and its not in the head. The symptoms of exposure are quite real and terrifying. The reaction is a mixture of acute asthma and allergic emergency. Almost no help with treatment, only a dangerous asthma treatment that keeps my lungs open, but if I use it more than 4 times in 24 hours I supposedly risk death. The allergists eyes got really wide when I told her I used it 4 or 5 times with recent exposures. As one can imagine, it makes for a delicate life in modern society. I do pretty well with it.

I've finished off the 91% isopropyl alcohol bottle. Wiped the camera down many times. Camera still stinks.

The "bags" from Home Depot are next. Any idea what they were called? I'm heading over there today.
Boy! Can I relate to the bolded/underlined above. My wife has fibromyalgia. She has had it for about 25 years. Many doctors to this day aren't sure they buy into there being any such thing. But when she first go it, there wasn't even a name for it, at least within the HMO we use. They often told her it was just in her head. What really hurt was when a doctor told her there was nothing he could do to help her, that she would just have to live with it for the rest or her life. What a good way to give someone severe depression! Just as bad was a rheumatologist who only has one mantra for fibromyalgia; Exercise. My wife told her she tried it and it only made the pain worse. The reply - Exercise.

Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of good and conscientious doctors, but those who are not create a more lasting impression.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled attempts to remove unwanted odors. I hope you find something that works well and quickly.

Glad to hear you have made some progress with doctors who at least acknowledge your condition.
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Old 04-13-2017   #28
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Update:

First, thank you everyone for your suggestions.

The camera still stinks, but less. I can use it outdoors, which is where I most want to use it.

The volcanic rocks from Home Depot were a waste of $9.78 Absolutely no effect.

The bags of activated carbon might have had a very slight effect, but not sufficient by any means.

Wiping down with vinegar, isopropyl alcohol (91%), ethanol (90%), and naptha had no noticeable effect. Camera still stank of pefume/cologne quite badly.

I didn't try using the baking soda paste on this camera. I tried such a paste on scented plastic stuff in the past and I don't think it worked at all. I was reluctant to try on the camera, but I might give it a go before long.

Modern scented products are pernicious and evil.

Finally, I tried something called "Nature's Miracle" on the camera. This product is a mix of enzymes and aimed at pet owners who have cats or dogs that have an accident somewhere in the house you didn't want to have accidented.

This product was able to reduce the stench by a noticeable amount. Still not enough, but this is the first time ever I've had any success with reducing perfumey scent from plastic. I noticed with repeated applications that the plastic parts of the camera were reducing in scent, and the rubber portions remained awful. That's unfortunate, but still good news. I will replace the rubber bits with new bits, and if the remaining plastic can be brought down to tolerable scent levels, I have a usable camera.

BTW, tobacco stink is never this difficult. Ever. And I don't react to tobacco so its just an annoyance when I get stuff "infused" with tobacco smell -- Not pleasant, but thankfully not fatal.

I want to again thank everyone for their suggestions, or at least the supportive ear.
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Old 04-13-2017   #29
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Sorry, I missed it.

My old new Lybitel-2 was very stinky, but due to plastic case. I forgot what is the word for material, some skin of non-exiting animal. First, I was thinking it is the camera, but it was its case.

Does camera have the case or stripe? If so, try to keep them completely separated for two weeks and check where smell is.

Lets do some more logical thinking here. Bare metal, glass or bakelite will not hold smell if surface was cleaned.
You did cleaned all of the surfaces already. Including internal ones?

In my recent attend to make $19 Industar to look like $50 lens I followed advice to clean some internal parts with gasoline. It went into the aperture part and was trapped here. As result the lens smelled as gasoline for few weeks, I have to keep it with caps off for ventilation. But it still smells!


Perhaps, previous master was too sissy and instead of gasoline the perfume was in use in attend to clean something, something inner. And it is trapped now.

Baking soda in the open box, or at the tea plate. Bare, naked camera with everything open beside of it. All placed on the shelf somewhere. But! Camera and plate with soda are in the large shopping bag. The bag is tighten up to keep air inside. Change soda daily. It might take couple of weeks.

It was another stinky old camera I took care this way. I forgot was it Anniversary from the basement or C33 from the smoker. What kind of camera is yours? Bellows? Wood?
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Old 04-13-2017   #30
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Once bought a Jupiter-8 lens, and it (still) smells like a brothel in Murmansk - way overdosed with cheap, nostril stabbing perfume.
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Old 04-13-2017   #31
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Nothing like the smell of a new Kiev 60 straight from factory. Took best of 2 years to get out of it.
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Old 04-13-2017   #32
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Ugh. FYI, the "improved" incarnation of that Natures Miracle that I just got (fecking cats) has a horrible perfume added to it. If yours is the original (alcoholy smell) and it seems like it might be helpful in future you might want to stock up.
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Old 04-13-2017   #33
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I lost my sense of smell from steroidal nasal spray. I miss the stank of my cameras.
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Old 04-13-2017   #34
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Febreeze? You could use cotton swabs. If not, just replace the leatherette, they are cheap.
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Old 04-13-2017   #35
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Maybe you are lucky and some of the molecules are from Henri Cartier-Bresson and you could clone him?
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Old 04-13-2017   #36
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seems like you have to somehow get the modern artificial scent oils off the camera which are bonding with either paint or plastic.

Some suggestions:

1. Clean it off with goo-gone - you can get at loses. Think of this as solvent level I - it's stronger than most alcohols - more like lighter fluid

2. Clean it will goof-off, also at Lowes - this is quite stong. Takes off the tape stickum and part of the plastic on cameras. I used it to clean off the deteriorated matte coating that turns sticky on the old N90's and such. Be careful as it might remove the paint, but you could repaint or re-leather if it's really a nice old camera.

3. Cover it with a strong tape, like duct tape or a strong sealing tape - the stuff that might leave a residue. This might pick up some of the scent oil as it would give it a more receptive bonding surface. Put it somewhere heated - like 100+ if you can - that will force the vaporization rates up. Then you will have to clean it with #1 or #2, but then the only smell might be more like lighter fluid. Goof-off is very volatile, use caution.

4. try putting it in direct sunlight for a long period - maybe days, since the UV could break down some of the volatile oils so they no longer smell.

Wish you luck.
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Old 04-14-2017   #37
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Have you tried this? Got it at Home Depot.
[IMG]DSC09676 [/IMG]
[IMG]DSC09677 [/IMG]
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Old 10-12-2018   #38
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So....
Its now about 1 1/2 years later, after my initial post. I very much appreciate everyone's suggestions for dealing with my scented camera.

Until last week, the camera was still as strongly and unpleasantly scented as when I received it. And I tried many of your suggestions, and then some. For those who wear cologne/perfume, keep in mind you are permanently scenting stuff you handle. Modern fragrance chemistry is amazing, if not frustratingly annoying.

Last week I replaced all the rubber parts around the outside of the camera. I had to master the use of Pliobond glue, but once I did that I was able to reduce the scent of this camera a fair bit with the replacements. Clearly, the previous scent-soaked owner handled the camera and deposited a lot of scent on those "wear areas". I still only use the camera outdoors and hold my breath when holding it near, but its a good camera that meets some of my photographic needs very nicely. Its my only adversely scented used camera. I have many even older cameras that come from the days before modern chemical engineering. They're OK.
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Old 10-12-2018   #39
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Have you tried a CLA? Lubricants could absorb the odors and external cleaning would not remove that repository.
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Old 10-12-2018   #40
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I have had a few cameras with tobacco smell. A week or two wrapped in newspaper (remember those?) worked wonders. It absorbed most, if not all, of the smell. Might work for this, too?
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