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Thread: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
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    San Joaquin Valley, California
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    8,844

    My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    "Is Monica in?" I asked at the window.
    "We'll page her. Is she expecting you?"
    "Yes. I spoke with her this morning about my radio active lens" I said, resting my well taped up cardboard box on the window ledge.
    "Is that radio active?" the receptionist asked.
    "I've heard that these are emitters" I replied, "thats why I'm here."
    "Where did you get it?" Someone from back in the office asked.
    "Why, eBay of course!" I replied.
    Laughter.

    FWIW The only thing resembling a serial # is hand-etched EE17569 on the barrel of the front element. I took it to the Nuclear Medicine department at the local hospital, seperated the front and rear elements and the techs did the geiger counter thing and then ran it through a camera of some sort that was connected to a computer screen. Here's what they told me: It's giving off one mg of radiation a minute and at a distance of two feet the reading is "background" meaning it is undescernable from background radiation (the everyday stuff) Whatever isotopes it is emitting were not of discernable levels. The cardboard box lined with wonderboard (cement impregnated fiberglass) which I brought the lens in with (I couldn't find any sheet lead) cut the emissions down to .1 mg. The only hazard I was warned of was to avoid using it if I should become pregnant , or let children play with it. Either way not a problem and its certainly not a weapon of mass destruction!

    This was quite an interesting experience! The nuclear medicine people were very nice and actually took a genuine interest in what I had planned for this grubby old lens. I promised them prints if I get any good ones.

    This presents a bit of a hitch in the plans, as I don't want to take my son with me (he's 6) and expose him to the lens for half a day and night, but thats nothing that an overnight visit with his favorite auntie can't fix, is it?

    Cheers!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Posts
    710

    Re: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    Just watch his distance to it. I had one for years, and just because I'm a drunk in a FEMA trailer shouldn't discourage you. :P

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    907

    Re: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    Increasing his distance from the emitter will certainly help lower his exposure. Do you know what type of particles it's emitting? A Plexiglas shield may do the trick - or a lead-lined film bag. I hope you share with us the image made with your lens and MAD SCIENTIST plan!

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Westminster, MD
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    1,654

    Re: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    I've got three Aero-Ektars! Never worried about the radiation. We encounter radiation from emitters all the time. Granite buildings probably expose us to more radiation simply by walking through their lobbies.

    Posted two images on my home page made with an Aero rigged to my RB Graflex.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  5. #5
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    North Carolina
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    Re: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    Seems to me the radiation from Aero-Ektars is from thorium doped glass, same as with my Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 (for M42, on a 35 mm SLR).

    Thorium itself is an alpha emitter, and as such as near to harmless as anything radioactive can be providing only you don't ingest or inhale the stuff; a cardboard box will reduce the emissions to background from any reasonable source.

    The complication arises as the lens ages, because not all of thorium's decay products are so well behaved; by the time a lens is 50-60 years old, it emits a witch's brew of alpha, beta, and gamma, the latter of which aren't really "stopped" by any easily portable shielding if of high enough energy. The good news is, even with that, the actual emission level is quite low (as you were informed), and the advice I've seen from someone who makes his living dealing with radiation was "don't use it for a loupe, and don't sleep with it under your pillow".

    If you don't mind carrying some weight and want the best possible peace of mind, you could make a box for it by casting lead shot in epoxy, a half inch or so thick, with a suitable space inside and a means of latching the lid shut. That's almost certainly overkill for any lens; the box itself (by virtue of its mass, as much as its lead content) is a bigger threat than the lens inside...
    If a contact print at arm's length is too small to see, you need a bigger camera. :D

  6. #6

    Join Date
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    now in Tucson, AZ
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    Re: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    Have you checked Michael Briggs's page about the Aero-Ektars? It should be required reading for anyone who owns one of these lenses.

  7. #7
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
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    local
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    Re: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    hi john

    this reminds me of film "repo man"
    ... just make sure you don't open the trunk!

    -john
    enjoy your coffee

  8. #8

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Westminster, MD
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    Re: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Rondo, Missouri
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    Re: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    My experience with Aero's was actually quite positive. After years of using them, I can now adjust the tripod with my left hand, hold the shutter release with my right one and wave off mosquitoes with the other two.
    Michael W. Graves
    Michael's Pub

    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

  10. #10

    Re: My 178mm Aero Ektar goes to the hospital!

    Don't hang it around your neck at the thyroid level and don't put it on your lap while driving or sitting for any length of time. Unless you are treating cancer of course.

    By the way what kind of radiation is it? That is the most important issue along with the amount.
    Last edited by Turner Reich; 20-Jun-2007 at 08:15. Reason: spilling

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