Can the sun damage the camera sensor? Under what conditions?

  • I want to experiment taking photos in which the sun appears. I'm afraid of what might happen if I take one with a narrower angle (where sun would be bigger). Can the lens act as a magnifying glass and burn the CCD or CMOS sensor?

    Under which circumstances (zoom, exposure, aperture, etc...), can the sensor be damaged by the sun?

    Oh hey. This older question gives a case where it happened:

    I took couple pictures of the sun during solar eclipse with my Canon 5D Mark 3, using a Bower 650 - 1300mm lens without any nd filter in LiveMode. My camera works fine and I don't see any damage at my sensor. But I doubt if I caused any "hidden" damage to my sensor. Do you know if there is any good way of testing my camera? I am looking for a nice calm relief :)

    I knew the risks involved, but figured that a quick few shots at the sun would be ok in live view with a 400 mm lens at f32. After 4 shots the screen turned gray and camera rebooted. Seems fine now though.

    I seem to have stuffed my fuji finepix by taking one snap of the the sun. it will now (as of immediately after the dreaded oh it will be ok 'sun' shot) not take photos in bright sunlight. they turn out completely black. if taking photos in the shade or not bright sunlight it seems to work fine. but I am really sorry I thought it just to be a myth - NOT!!!!

    That seems like a peculiar symptom. I wouldn't think a point & shoot camera will have metering sensors other than the main sensor, and if that is damaged, I'd think the problem would be apparent always. I'm curious if you can identify the threshold between bright sunlight and not-bright sunlight. Is there a "tipping point" where suddently it goes all black, or does it happen gradually? What if you point directly at a lightbulb close-up indoors?

    _"Can the lens act as a magnifying glass"_ I wonder what you think a magnifying glass _is_? :P

    I don't know why you're afraid of using a lens with a narrower angle (higher focal length) as this will *decrease* the light intensity given the aperture stays the same size. You should be worried about wide angle lenses.

    Maybe because of this: it happened with a 600mm f/4 lens attached.

    @Myridium But the aperture doesn't stay the same size - if the f-number stays the same the aperture gets progressively larger with longer focal lengths which means more light is collected when the entire light source is a small point within the angle of view.

  • Alan

    Alan Correct answer

    11 years ago

    Taking direct photos of the sun can destroy your camera, not to mention your eyes. It's exactly as you are afraid, the lens will act as a magnifier and multiply the suns intensity right on your cameras internals. What this effects can vary. Long exposures against the sun can cause permanent damage to your camera's sensor, but besides that, your camera's shutter curtains, and af sensors are also at risk when shooting right at the sun.

    Now, taking photos of sunset and sunrises is okay, as is taking photos in direct sunlight (though this does require some finesse to get a good exposure), but pointing your lens right at the sun is not recommended (especially for long exposures).

    Do you have references for this?

    Most, if not all, SLR shutter curtains are metal these days, which would get real hot, but I seriously doubt they'd burn or warp since the mirror would be down on a SLR. Mirror lockup would increase the time light could hit the shutter but still I don't think it's long enough to hurt it. Old Leica's had cloth curtains which were the origin of the story.

    the problem isn't so much the metal shutter curtains as the mostly plastic parts they attach to. Metal gets hot, plastic gets hot, plastic warps or melts. But as you say, the shutter isn't exposed to the intense heat long enough for that to happen. The sensor however can be.

    Not sure how "long exposures" would work... when aiming directly at the sun my camera sets 1/4000s at f40... and even then, the actually disk is entirely clipping at maximum RGB values.

    My camera(Canon 1300) stopped working after I left it on the beach for 20min in the hot sun (without any cover, I am such a dumb). Canon service center guys told me there is a problem with board and LCD. My suggestion is taking just photos should be fine, but don't expose to the sun for too long.

    i have taken videos of sunset with 500mm lens + 1.4x with 5D mark III without causing any damage. The energy density at sunset/sunrise is too small to cause serious damage to the sensors or other parts of the camera.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM