Viewing the sun with a dSLR.

Seventen

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Hello,

I have a couple of questions about photographing the sun using dslr.

I have been much into astronomy for many years and have been viewing the sun and recording using webcams in the past. and using a solar filter. Since getting my dSLR this year I have connected that to the telescope with a t2 connector and record in live view. Someone spoke to me while I was doing this recently and said I will fry the insides of the camera. wondered if anyone was able to tell the truth of this?

Also the other question is eye safety and possible lens damage I have been taking photos of the sun using the camera with a 18 - 55mm lens and is no brighter that staring at the sun but what damage could the lens get? also if I was to use my Tamron 70 - 300mm lens how bad would this be for eyes or damage? maybe would use no more that 135mm of it as just using it to make sillohettes, it getting some nice sunrise / sunset pictures. Sometimes a midday sun in the winter when snow and ice covers the land and water.
I know with a telescope I would never even take a split second look at the sun without my solar filter using 20 - 100x magnification. But maybe its different with cameras as there is plenty of photos around.
 

Gavjenks

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The lens shouldn't get damaged at all. The sun's light is being fully focused on your sensor, your shutter, your AF points, or the ground glass in your viewfinder (depending), not anywhere in your lens.

When you aren't taking a photo, most of the sunlight is going to the ground glass in your viewfinder, which then disperses a little bit before it hits your eye. For a kit lens, this shouldn't hurt your eye any more than just looking at the sun normally would, and you would have plenty of time to naturally flinch away like normal before any damage to your retina occurred. If you have a huge bright f/1.0 lens or something, then it might hurt your eye more than looking at the sun normally would, and possibly too quickly to flinch away (especially if for some reason you were in a dark area just prior to looking through the viewfinder, and your pupils are very dilated). Probably not, but you should still be much more careful if you have very fast glass. if you have a dim f/8 lens, then it will not be as bright as looking at the sun would be, etc.

Some of the light also gets diverted to your AF sensors, but only a fraction of it. Shouldn't be enough to cause any damage. I wouldn't leave a big bright lens pointed at the sun in focus for minutes on end, or anything... but for normal usage, should be just fine.

When you take a picture, the sunlight is briefly focused on your shutter blades, but these are usually metal or carbon fiber or something that can take the heat just fine, and it's only about 1/20th of a second anyway. Then it gets focused on your sensor, which can't take the heat for very long BUT will only be exposed for 1/4000th or whatever of a second, not long enough to cause damage. If you accidentally set your camera to manual and expose an in-focus image of the sun with a wide aperture for 3 seconds or something, you WOULD probably fry your sensor. But you shouldn't ever damage it if you're taking a properly exposed photo.

Also, if you are using a neutral density filter of many stops of strength, then you should be safe pretty much no matter what.
 
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KmH

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. . . using a solar filter. . .
. . .Someone spoke to me while I was doing this recently and said I will fry the insides of the camera. wondered if anyone was able to tell the truth of this? . . .
That someone was likely less than fully informed.
There are several different kinds of solar filter. What do you use, and how long of an exposure do you typically make?

People make images that have the Sun in them all the time without a solar filter, and the insides of their cameras don't get fried.
 

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Stills shouldn't be a problem because the sensor is only exposed in about 1/4000 second increments.

I would, however, be wary of switching into live-view or recording video of the sun. Doing either of these locks the mirror up and causes the fully-focused strength of the sun to continuously hit the sensor. This would almost certainly cause the sensor to overheat.
 

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^ Oh right sorry - when I said you should use live view, I meant WITH the neutral density / darkening filter applied. Fail post.

Yeah, that would be bad without a filter...
 
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Seventen

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When I walk around taking shots no filter used but is a fairly fast shutter.

When used with my telescope I dont have a tracking mount here so I take 20 second videos of the sun. I use the Baader solar filter foil Baader Planetarium Sun filter foil A4 20x29cm Baader this filter was not only recommended by this shop but also from the people in the observitory I am a member at. They even said they prefer this over the glass filters they have. It brings the sun to about the brightness of the moon. Been using this method for quite a few months now but one comment from a passer by had me a bit worried.
 

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The sun, through a 10 stop neutral density filter, would be about as bright as a 100 watt lightbulb a few feet away from you. That doesn't sound very dangerous to look at for your camera. I've actually done it with no problems, although I was only composing for a few seconds. I can't speak from experience on sitting there toying around with the sun and the camera for minutes on end. It should be fine, though.

Amazon.com: B&W 77mm #110 3.0 (1000x) Neutral Density Glass Filter: Camera & Photo Mine is actually closer to 11 stops.

The reason to use the LCD anyway is that although this cuts enough light to relieve enough heat to not harm your sensor, it doesn't necessarily block UV as efficiently as visible light, and could still harm your eyes if you just stare through the viewfinder for a really long time. And it might be deceptively harmful. Unlike looking with a bare eye where you will naturally flinch away, you might not flinch with the filter. So the LCD solves that.
 

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I'd be more concerned about possible eye damage. If you're looking thru the lens, and have a dense filter on it, I think your iris is going to open to try to see thru the darkness; but in reality I think it's going to be like looking directly at the sun (which obviously we cannot do with human vision for any length of time without permanent damage).

If it's not possible for us to look directly into the sun other than momentarily, how would it be possible to do so thru a camera lens? I think professional astronomers or scientists have specialized equipment for this. You might need to ask an eye doctor or eye care professional about the safety of it, or ask at your observatory for professional recommendations.
 

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Yes that's why I just suggested using Live View / your LCD to compose and focus and take the shot, when you are using a dense filter on the lens, instead of looking through the viewfinder. IF the filter blocks UV as efficiently as visible, then you'd be just fine looking through the viewfinder. It'd just look like a lightbulb and wouldn't hurt you at all. But some filters may block visible but not very much UV, in which case, it won't seem bright, but might be cooking you anyway. So just use the LCD. But only if you have a dense filter on.

There is an approximately 0% chance of you damaging your eye from the light coming from your camera's LCD Live View image.




If you don't have a super dense filter, another thing you could do is set your lens to f/32 or something, and hold down the DOF preview button. That's not enough to stare for any amount of time, but will cut the incoming light by 100-200x or so, depending on your lens' max aperture, enough to glance quickly with no real likelihood of harm.

Or make a pinhole lens with some sandpaper, a hot needle and a spare body cap, and stare all day long. If you can make a hole 1/3 of a millimeter across, you'll be at f/150 or so, and the sun won't hurt your eye or your sensor no matter how long you look.
 
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Seventen

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Thanks for the replies, Regarding the safety of using a telescope to view sun been doing so for years and still have great eyesight but thanks for the link was still nice reading through it. It was more about the safety of taking landscape shots with the sun in the picture like this kind 10.7.2013 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

The other thing was the damage my camera could get while attached to the telescope with a solar filter on I am guessing from some of these answers if there was going to be damage to the camera from being connected to the telescope over the past months the damage would have been already noticeable? I never have camera on before the filter going on.
Here is a image taken earlier in the year sun 15.5 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Also I have asked at the obervatory they said its fine to do but I was wanting to ask here as people here might have better knowledge of the health of the camera
 

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The sun, through a 10 stop neutral density filter, would be about as bright as a 100 watt lightbulb a few feet away from you. That doesn't sound very dangerous to look at for your camera. I've actually done it with no problems, although I was only composing for a few seconds. I can't speak from experience on sitting there toying around with the sun and the camera for minutes on end. It should be fine, though.

Amazon.com: B&W 77mm #110 3.0 (1000x) Neutral Density Glass Filter: Camera & Photo Mine is actually closer to 11 stops.

The reason to use the LCD anyway is that although this cuts enough light to relieve enough heat to not harm your sensor, it doesn't necessarily block UV as efficiently as visible light, and could still harm your eyes if you just stare through the viewfinder for a really long time. And it might be deceptively harmful. Unlike looking with a bare eye where you will naturally flinch away, you might not flinch with the filter. So the LCD solves that.
And you have this on good scientific testing from where?

"Eclipse or not, always use a proper filter when observing or photographing the sun. Regular sunglasses and photographic polarizing or neutral-density (ND) filters are not safe for use on the sun."
How to Safely Photograph the Sun (A Photo Guide) | Solar Eclipses | Space.com
 
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Seventen

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I didnt link that item and I dont own one either.
 

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And you have this on good scientific testing from where?

A) What I said does not require testing. It's a matter of simple arithmetic to look up the luminosity of the sun from Earth and a 100 watt lightbulb from X feet away and applying the inverse square law. Unless you don't trust that humanity sufficiently understands the luminosity of the sun and/or lightbulbs? ...

B) As I wrote in the post that you just quoted, I have done this myself with no sensor damage.



At least I explained my logic, unlike that website, which as far as I could tell, never addressed the issue of neutral density filters again outside of that one sentence! Perhaps they were thinking of the more common 2-3 stop ND filters, not 10-11 stop ones.
 

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And you have this on good scientific testing from where?

A) What I said does not require testing. It's a matter of simple arithmetic to look up the luminosity of the sun from Earth and a 100 watt lightbulb from X feet away and applying the inverse square law. Unless you don't trust that humanity sufficiently understands the luminosity of the sun and/or lightbulbs? ...

B) As I wrote in the post that you just quoted, I have done this myself with no sensor damage.



At least I explained my logic, unlike that website, which as far as I could tell, never addressed the issue of neutral density filters again outside of that one sentence! Perhaps they were thinking of the more common 2-3 stop ND filters, not 10-11 stop ones.


Luminosity is independent of distance and an intrinsic measurable property, and is calculated as absolute luminosity magnitude corresponding to the apparent magnitude of luminosity in visible light of a star as seen at the interstellar distance of 10 parsecs, or calculated as bolometric magnitude corresponding to bolometric luminosity.

In counterpoint, apparent brightness is related by an inverse square law to the distance. In addition to the decrease in brightness from increase in distance there is an extra linear brightness decrease for interstellar "extinction" from intervening interstellar dust. Visible brightness is normally measured by using apparent magnitude. Both absolute and apparent magnitudes are related by an inverse logarithmic scale, where 5 magnitudes increase counterparts a 100th part decrease in non logarithmic luminosity.


Outdoor average sunlight ranges from 32000 to 100000 lumens.
A 100W Incandescent bulb for general task lighting applications: 1700 Lumens output.

I have also taken sun photos at the local observatory on a clear bright day near noon with no problems. Thing is cameras can be replaced, eyes can't. Once solar filter was in place,
I had no problems viewing the sun through the viewfinder. What you see is what you get. The suggestion of using an ND filter at all for solar shots is frankly dangerous to the person that would follow such advise.
 

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