Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?

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Shiranai
Shiranai Regular Member • Posts: 364
Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?

So I've read about that a laser can damage your mirrorless. Can also taking a photo of the sun damage your sensor?

And can anybody explain to me why longer lenses can do more damage? Cause in my logic that longer lens focusses the sun circle to a bigger area than a wideangle would. So why does that small sun point not do more damage then a bigger sun? Or can the damage only happen if you remove the lens and the light gets more focussed on one point?

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MediaArchivist
MediaArchivist Veteran Member • Posts: 5,238
Yes!
6

Shiranai wrote:

So I've read about that a laser can damage your mirrorless. Can also taking a photo of the sun damage your sensor?

Both are correct.

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dmanthree
dmanthree Veteran Member • Posts: 7,993
Re: Yes!
19

MediaArchivist wrote:

Shiranai wrote:

So I've read about that a laser can damage your mirrorless. Can also taking a photo of the sun damage your sensor?

Both are correct.

Maybe at some point in the future all mirrorless cameras will have a mirror mounted in front of the sensor to prevent that kind of damage.

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embie
embie Senior Member • Posts: 1,280
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?
2

It's very harmful with a DSLR.
What's a mirrorless when the mirror is up at the time of exposure ?

Answer...of course it's harmful.

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BBbuilder467 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,800
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?
1

Shiranai wrote:

So I've read about that a laser can damage your mirrorless. Can also taking a photo of the sun damage your sensor?

And can anybody explain to me why longer lenses can do more damage? Cause in my logic that longer lens focusses the sun circle to a bigger area than a wideangle would. So why does that small sun point not do more damage then a bigger sun? Or can the damage only happen if you remove the lens and the light gets more focussed on one point?

The af lenses for my m4/3 will automatically stop down to the minimum to protect itself from the bright sun, but when tripod mounted, I always add the lens cap or drop a cover over it.

The lens obviously acts like a magnifying glass.

ZodiacPhoto
ZodiacPhoto Senior Member • Posts: 2,746
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?
1

With a wide angle lens and a small aperture (f/8 or smaller), the chance of damage to the sensor is very low. Telephoto lens, wide aperture, and long exposure will greatly increase the likelihood of damage.

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Tom Axford Veteran Member • Posts: 6,424
Most photos of the sun cause no damage
1

Literally millions of photos have been taken with the sun in the frame and without the sensor suffering any damage whatsoever.  For example, here is one of mine, but I'm sure you have seen many others.

However, in extreme situations, the sun can cause damage to the camera (not just to the sensor).  See this article about damage caused by people trying to photograph an eclipse.  These are not normal circumstances, however.  Cameras may be mounted on telescopes that are following the sun across the sky and hence the image of the sun remains focussed in the same spot on the sensor (or aperture blades, or shutter curtain) for a long period of time.

I think the solution is just to use some common sense and avoid keeping your camera pointed at the sun for too long.

tko Forum Pro • Posts: 12,947
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?
5

embie wrote:

It's very harmful with a DSLR.
What's a mirrorless when the mirror is up at the time of exposure ?

Answer...of course it's harmful.

With proper exposure, its only open for maybe 1/1000th of a second, but with mirrorless, it could be open for seconds as you compose. But yeah, in either case you need to be careful and know what you are doing. Even SLRs have had the mirrorbox burned when the camera was left pointing at the sun.

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Mark Scott Abeln
Mark Scott Abeln Forum Pro • Posts: 14,081
Total heat
1

Shiranai wrote:

And can anybody explain to me why longer lenses can do more damage?

Suppose you photograph the sun with a wide angle and a telephoto. If you use the same settings with both photos, the exposure will be the same and so you’ll have the same number of joules of energy per square millimeter for both in the region of the sun in the image.

With a long lens, that same energy density will be multiplied over a much larger area of the sensor, so the total number of joules absorbed by the sensor will be much greater. It might be more than what it can safely dissipate without damage.

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Papa48 Senior Member • Posts: 1,482
Focused sunlight damages things.
1

It's probably never a good idea to focus the sun onto anything. As kids with magnifying glasses we killed ants on sidewalks that way. Your retina could also be permanently damaged from looking at a focused sun through an OVF. But mirrorless EVFs lack that direct intensity. Meanwhile, something else in your camera might be frying from focused sun radiation.

9VIII Contributing Member • Posts: 591
Re: Focused sunlight damages things.
2

Papa48 wrote:

It's probably never a good idea to focus the sun onto anything. As kids with magnifying glasses we killed ants on sidewalks that way. Your retina could also be permanently damaged from looking at a focused sun through an OVF. But mirrorless EVFs lack that direct intensity. Meanwhile, something else in your camera might be frying from focused sun radiation.

Every time I go back to shooting with my SLR it seems like I always get at least one “ouch!” moment when the sun enters the frame.

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doady Senior Member • Posts: 1,606
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?

It's probably is more of a problem for cameras with smaller sensors such as my Olympus C7070 and its 1/1.8" sensor because the sun will be more concentrated. But with a camera with a 4/3 sensor that is 6 times larger or APS-C sensor that is 9 times larger, it shouldn't be as big a concern. If you are very quick and are careful to point the camera at the sun too long maybe it will be okay.

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dsjtecserv Veteran Member • Posts: 3,772
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?
1

doady wrote:

It's probably is more of a problem for cameras with smaller sensors such as my Olympus C7070 and its 1/1.8" sensor because the sun will be more concentrated. But with a camera with a 4/3 sensor that is 6 times larger or APS-C sensor that is 9 times larger, it shouldn't be as big a concern. If you are very quick and are careful to point the camera at the sun too long maybe it will be okay.

The size of the sensor has nothing to do with the risk of damage. The size of the image of the sun projected onto the sensor is determined by the focal length of the lens, and the intensity of the energy is determined by the relative aperture (f-number). For a given f-number, the intensity  (concentration) of the energy reaching the sensor will be the same, regardless of the focal length  or sensor format. However, the longer the focal length (regardless of sensor format) the larger the image of the sun, and thus more total energy reaches the sensor.  It is more difficult for this larger amount of energy  to be dissipated, and consequently the temperature of the sensor will rise to a higher level more quickly, potentially reaching a point capable of damaging the sensor materials.  Those are the factors (along with the time of exposure) that affect the risk of damage.

Dave

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doady Senior Member • Posts: 1,606
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?

dsjtecserv wrote:

doady wrote:

It's probably is more of a problem for cameras with smaller sensors such as my Olympus C7070 and its 1/1.8" sensor because the sun will be more concentrated. But with a camera with a 4/3 sensor that is 6 times larger or APS-C sensor that is 9 times larger, it shouldn't be as big a concern. If you are very quick and are careful to point the camera at the sun too long maybe it will be okay.

The size of the sensor has nothing to do with the risk of damage. The size of the image of the sun projected onto the sensor is determined by the focal length of the lens, and the intensity of the energy is determined by the relative aperture (f-number). For a given f-number, the intensity (concentration) of the energy reaching the sensor will be the same, regardless of the focal length or sensor format. However, the longer the focal length (regardless of sensor format) the larger the image of the sun, and thus more total energy reaches the sensor. It is more difficult for this larger amount of energy to be dissipated, and consequently the temperature of the sensor will rise to a higher level more quickly, potentially reaching a point capable of damaging the sensor materials. Those are the factors (along with the time of exposure) that affect the risk of damage.

Dave

Are you seriously saying that the image size has nothing to do with sensor size?

A smaller sensor means a smaller image, a smaller sun. As the sensor gets smaller, the light gets more and more concentrated. The Sun's energy becomes more concentrated. It's that concentration of energy (i.e. like a laser) that is the whole problem here.

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dsjtecserv Veteran Member • Posts: 3,772
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?
2

doady wrote:

dsjtecserv wrote:

doady wrote:

It's probably is more of a problem for cameras with smaller sensors such as my Olympus C7070 and its 1/1.8" sensor because the sun will be more concentrated. But with a camera with a 4/3 sensor that is 6 times larger or APS-C sensor that is 9 times larger, it shouldn't be as big a concern. If you are very quick and are careful to point the camera at the sun too long maybe it will be okay.

The size of the sensor has nothing to do with the risk of damage. The size of the image of the sun projected onto the sensor is determined by the focal length of the lens, and the intensity of the energy is determined by the relative aperture (f-number). For a given f-number, the intensity (concentration) of the energy reaching the sensor will be the same, regardless of the focal length or sensor format. However, the longer the focal length (regardless of sensor format) the larger the image of the sun, and thus more total energy reaches the sensor. It is more difficult for this larger amount of energy to be dissipated, and consequently the temperature of the sensor will rise to a higher level more quickly, potentially reaching a point capable of damaging the sensor materials. Those are the factors (along with the time of exposure) that affect the risk of damage.

Dave

Are you seriously saying that the image size has nothing to do with sensor size?

Yes, absolutely.

A smaller sensor means a smaller image, a smaller sun. As the sensor gets smaller, the light gets more and more concentrated. The Sun's energy becomes more concentrated. It's that concentration of energy (i.e. like a laser) that is the whole problem here.

A smaller sensor simply means a smaller sensor, encompassing whatever is projected onto it. The size of the image of an object projected onto the sensor is a function only of the focal length of the lens. If a shorter focal length is used with a smaller sensor in order to maintain a certain field of view, then the projected image does indeed get smaller, but that is a function of the focal length, not the sensor size.

The intensity of the light hitting the sensor is a function only of the relative aperture, the f-number. Regardless of the focal length or the sensor size, the intensity of the light (including that from the sun) is the same if the f-number is the same. (This should be obvious, since the exposure for any subject is the same if the f-number is the same, regardless of focal length or sensor size.) Thus even though though a shorter focal length results in a smaller image of the sun, the intensity of the energy delivered by the image of the sun is the same if the f-number is the same. The "concentration" of energy is the same regardless of focal length or sensor size, at the same f-number.

The shorter the focal length the smaller the image of the sun, even though the intensity of that image is the same at the same f-number. It follows that less total energy is delivered to the sensor when the focal length is shorter. Conversely, the longer the focal length, the greater the area of the sensor that is covered by the image of the sun, at the same intensity. Thus more total energy is delivered to the sensor with a longer focal length, and it is harder to dissipate the larger amount of energy. The balance of energy inflow to outflow tips toward the inflow, and the temperature can get higher. That increases the risk of damage.

I hope that is clearer for you.

Dave

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Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,814
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?
3

Shiranai wrote:

So I've read about that a laser can damage your mirrorless. Can also taking a photo of the sun damage your sensor?

Yes, sunlight is quite intense.    Consider a magnifying glass projecting an image of the sun onto a piece of paper.   You can easily get enough heat to ignite that piece of paper.

A camera lens with the sun in focus is doing essentially the same thing to the sensor.

Now, if the exposure to sunlight is very short, there may not be enough time to heat that portion of the sensor.

With a DSLR, the shutter is closed, except during the short time you are actually exposing the sensor.  With short exposures and small apertures you may not do any damage.

On the other hand, a mirrorless keeps the shutter open and light hitting the sensor almost al the time.  Thus simply composing a photo with the sun in the frame might damage the sensor.

And can anybody explain to me why longer lenses can do more damage? Cause in my logic that longer lens focusses the sun circle to a bigger area than a wideangle would. So why does that small sun point not do more damage then a bigger sun? Or can the damage only happen if you remove the lens and the light gets more focussed on one point?

Longer lenses spread the image of the sun over a wider area.  You would think this would make the light per unit area less intense.  However, at the same f/stop, the longer lens has a wider aperture diameter.  The result is that you get more total light entering the lens.

At f/4 you get the same light per unit area on the sensor whether the focal length is 100mm or 1,000mm.  However, with a 1,000mm lens that image of the sun covers a wider area of the sensor.

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Shiranai
OP Shiranai Regular Member • Posts: 364
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?

Yes, sunlight is quite intense. Consider a magnifying glass projecting an image of the sun onto a piece of paper. You can easily get enough heat to ignite that piece of paper.

At f/4 you get the same light per unit area on the sensor whether the focal length is 100mm or 1,000mm. However, with a 1,000mm lens that image of the sun covers a wider area of the sensor.

But a magnifying glass makes it even hotter if the light gets focussed on a tiny spot. Isn't a wideangle lens doing essentially the same?

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Michael Fryd
Michael Fryd Forum Pro • Posts: 11,814
Re: Can taking photos of the sun damage your mirrorless?

Shiranai wrote:

Yes, sunlight is quite intense. Consider a magnifying glass projecting an image of the sun onto a piece of paper. You can easily get enough heat to ignite that piece of paper.

At f/4 you get the same light per unit area on the sensor whether the focal length is 100mm or 1,000mm. However, with a 1,000mm lens that image of the sun covers a wider area of the sensor.

But a magnifying glass makes it even hotter if the light gets focussed on a tiny spot. Isn't a wideangle lens doing essentially the same?

Sort of, but the light is moderated by the aperture. If your magnifying glass is 3 inches (73mm) in diameter and 6 inches (152mm) from the paper, then it's essentially a 152mm f/2 lens. If you masked off the edges of the magnifying glass leaving a 1.5 inch (38mm) diameter opening, it would be a 152mm f/4 lens.

So yes, if we took the same amount of sunlight and focused it into a smaller area, it would get hotter, but that's not generally what a wide angle lens does. The wide angle lens generally has a smaller aperture diameter, so it focuses less of the sun's energy onto that smaller area.

The short answer is that the energy density on the sensor is proportional to the f/stop. At the same f/stop, the longer lens projects the same energy density for the image of the sun, over a wider area.

Longer answer:

There are a finite number of photons from the sun reaching the front of the lens. The aperture blocks some of them. The number of photons making it through is proportional to the area of the aperture. Halve the area of the aperture, and you halve the number of photons getting through.

The focal length determines how those photons are distributed. Longer focal lengths spread them out over a wider area, yielding fewer photons per unit area.

The actual number of photons hitting a spot on the sensor is dependent on both the focal length and the aperture diameter.

It turns out that if the ratio of focal length to aperture diameter is the same, we get the same number of photons per unit area.

If we move from a 50mm lens to a 100mm lens we spread the photons out over four times the area on the sensor.

If we also were to increase the aperture diameter from 25mm to 50mm, we let in four times as many photons, which balances out the reduction from the longer focal length..

As it turns out we have a name for the ratio of focal length to aperture diameter. We call it the "f/stop" or "relative aperture."

A 50mm lens with a 25mm aperture diameter is f/2 (the aperture diameter is the focal length "f", divided by 2).

A 100mm lens with a 50mm aperture diameter is also f/2.

If you are comparing a shot of the sun with a 35mm lens at f/4 to a 200mm lens at f/4, we get the same energy density. The image of the sun covers a much larger area of the sensor, but the aperture diameter is larger, and lets in more light to compensate.

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