How I saved a lens that fell into a creek and drowned - Jose A. Feliciano

How I saved a lens that fell in a creek and drowned

Last week I was camping in a local wilderness area, while taking photos in the afternoon my 24-240 mm lens fell into a creek and got submerged for about a minute and I was able to rescue it and make it functional again.

Here’s the story. So I’m sitting in a rock taking photos of weather rolling in from the other side of the mountain. I had my 24-240 on my camera and decided that I needed to go wider, so changed to the 16-35mm lens and put the 24-240 inside a much that was put inside a waistpack that I had on me. When I started to hear lightning coming I new it was time to pickup the camera and head back to camp. As I leaned forward to stand I felt that something fell from the waistpack, I look and is the lens and it has fallen into the creek I was photographing. Absent-minded me forgot to close the waistpack zipper when I changed lenses. I rushed to try to grab the lens but it float a bit away from me and had to jump over some rocks to go and rescue it. When I finally manage to get it out of the creek a significant amount of water had entered the lens. I was pissed at myself for being so careless and leaving the waistpack zipper open. I extended the lens and started shaking it to take out as much water as I could until no more water came out of it. The thing is that at this point I could still see a lot of water inside the lens but none was coming out.

I got to camp and wrapt the lens in a piece of cloth that I had and left it there for the night. The next morning as I was taking camp down, I took the lens out and made sure that direct sunlight was hitting the front element, it sat in the sun for about two hours that day. After those two hours I could still see water inside but there were clear signs that the water was starting to evaporate.

As soon as I got home I put the lens in front of a small fan to allow dry air to flow through the lens. Then the next day, I took the lens to work with me and left it on my car’s dashboard the whole day while I was working. The heat from the sun, completely dried the lens. This concluded the water-evaporation phase of the rescue.

When I got home that day (day 2) I put a piece of paper towel around the lens mount and secure it with a piece of wire, then put the lens in a container and filled it with rice. The piece of paper towel minimized the amount of rice dust that could get into the lens. I left the lens for 5 days in the rice without even opening the container.

Today (day 7) I put the lens on the camera and tried it and, voila, it's working and focusing perfectly. I’ll probably need to find a service for internal lens cleaning because there are water stains inside the lens but my main fear was that the lens’ internal electronics would get damaged and that didn’t happened.

 Time will tell, but for now I think I've saved the lens and this is a method that works.  One of the most important things is that I didn't try to use the lens for a week while it was drying.  If electricity pass through the circuits while there's still humidity in them the probability of the lens' electronics getting damaged is very high. 


I'll put an update about the internal cleaning once I get that done.  If any of you know about a cleaning service I'll gladly take recommendations, leave a comment below.

Water stains inside the lens

Water stains inside the lens

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