Is it dangerous to point a DSLR at the sun?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by cactus waltz, Nov 2, 2007.

  1. cactus waltz

    cactus waltz TPF Noob!

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    Good day fellow forumites,

    I am on the fence regarding buying a DSLR but I want to sure I understand all the basics first. My question is: is it dangerous to point a camera directly at the sun? I believe that it's damaging the sensor on compact cameras. Do I need to buy a filter or such to avoid this?

    Are there other "outside" dangers I should concider?
     
  2. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It is remotely possible that if you point it directly at the sun, that you can damage the sensor. There is no practical reason to take pics of the sun anyways (one needs specialized equipment for that in the case of eclipses and such). You have a greater issue to consider... your own eyes. Don't be risking those.

    Other dangers?

    - your friend's butter fingers
    - rain, condensation, water

    You know... the normal everyday common sense stuff!
     
  3. Gopherkid

    Gopherkid TPF Noob!

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    Ive wondered about this too. Like ive taken photos right at sun set/rise where the sun is at ~ 45 degrees in the picture. So the suns not directly in front of the sensor, but it is still in view, you think that poses much risk?
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Consider that most DSLR cameras don't have Live View...so the shutter is closed except for when the actual exposure is being taken...and if you are pointed at the sun, the exposure will probably be in the range of 1/500 to 1/2000 +...so I very highly doubt that any damage could occur with short exposures like that.

    I know a photographer who shoots weddings and his style involves a lot of shooting into the sun. He's not concerned about damage and hasn't seen any yet. But he acknowledges that if this does shorten the life of his cameras...it's worth it.

    It should be noted that what may be damaged is your eyes, if you are using a lens and looking directly at the sun.
     
  5. Jeff Canes

    Jeff Canes No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have heard this too before. Was shooting in the park one day both film & digital. When an old fellow on a bike stop to talk. He had a 10D with him. I had one camera strap a cross my body and to side with lens pointing up. He said something about it so I turned the camera down. Did not ask reason just acted as if I understood why.

    The only speculation I can image is lens' emits magnifies the heat from the sun and could cause heat damage.
     
  6. cactus waltz

    cactus waltz TPF Noob!

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    That makes sense. What I plan to do is to take portraits of people standing in front of the sun so that they only their silhuettoes can be seen. That would involve shots where the sun is in the center focus of the shot.
     
  7. ThePup

    ThePup TPF Noob!

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    Telescopes and Binoculars certianly do this, I see no reason why an SLR lens would be any different. It takes the sun, magnifies it, and focuses it on your eye. The danger is that the eye has no pain receptive nerves, so the (permenant!) damage to the eye is done without any pain.

    (Just checked - Straight from my K10D manual "Do not look directly at the sun through the camera with the telephoto lens attached")
     
  8. jon_k

    jon_k TPF Noob!

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    I can verify this as a fact. You know the pictures where kids are using a magnifying glass to kill ants with the sun beams? Yeah, those never worked when I was a kid either..

    However, with lenses, it does work! I had an old 50mm f/1.3 Konica Hexanon lens, and I was outside and noticed the light cast by the sun when passing through a lens. I moved the lens closer to my skin (thats where the light was casting) and when it got beyond the flange distance... the light circle was the size of a laser pointer... then all I can describe is OUCH! I got a first degree burn there.

    I then started finding paper, bugs, lens caps, etc.

    The lens cap started to melt immediately, the paper didn't even brown. White objects deflect all the sunlight off I think. The black objects absorb the energy and fall apart from the heat.

    I was able to 1) melt through some 35mm film 2) denigrates a leaf, it smoked and disintegrates, but doesn't flame up. 3) Burn a hole in my jeans 4) kill a few ants, it sliced them in half!

    I'd like to find a telephoto to see if it focuses the light tighter. Probably not... because the flange distance would be the same. However, if the front element of the telephoto was HUGE.. more light = more power!

    Imagine this little discovery happening with your eyeball against a viewfinder.

    I doubt it'd effect a camera around your neck. The lens has to be literally positioned towards the sun, and the flange distance has to be focused to a small laser-pointer dot (for a full frame 35mm sized sensor.. thats quite larger then a laser pointer.)

    I don't think with the image circle cast around the sensor size it could do much damage... only when the image circle is focused to the size of a laser pointer sized dot.
     
  9. soylentgreen

    soylentgreen TPF Noob!

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    What??? I have a whole graveyard full of ants from using that technique back in the day. Their ghosts still haunts me. :mrgreen:

    Anyway, to the question...I figure you should not be shooting straight at the sun with a telephoto lens for any long exposure for obvious reasons. Same goes for telecopes. Fry your retina pretty darn quick. Sensor will recover as it discharges and resets itself. Eyes...no. Sunrise and sunsets are the less "intense" periods of the sun's cycle so the light is difused much more by the atmoshpere. That should reduce the risk some. I have not experienced any problems witht he camera as such.
     
  10. jon_k

    jon_k TPF Noob!

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    Solyent Green is PEOPLE!
     

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