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Staring into the sun

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by spark, Feb 17, 2010.

  1. spark

    spark Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 8, 2010
    I have read that it is not good to expose a camera sensor to the full brightness of the noon sun... is this true. Or any very bright light (eg welding arcs, HID headlights, etc) for that matter. Will it cause damage to the sensor?

    If that is true, I noticed that the GFI sensor is wide open to exposure through the lens always (there is nothing in front of the sensor when it isn't being used). So, IF bright light damages a sensor, could this damage happen even if you are not using the camera. Say, it is hanging around your neck on a strap without a lens cap and inadvertently pointing at an ARC welder welding on the bumper of a car with its HID headlight on with the noon sun in the background.

    I realize these are strange questions... and I'm not really concerned. Just curious. Are the sensors vulnerable to very bright light?

    PS: This sounds like it should be on Mythbusters.
    • Like Like x 3
  2. BillN

    BillN Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 19, 2010
    SW France
    Good question - that's what great about this Forum
  3. spark

    spark Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 8, 2010
    Normally, this wouldn't be an issue as there is a shutter/mirror assembly in front of the sensor. I know my old run-of-the-mill point-and-shoot camera would show vertical purple lines when the sensor was overloaded by light, but nothing was ever damaged (that I could tell). Although the P&S camera would automatically apply a filter (close the aperture a step) to try to compensate.

    The GFI could be set to aperture priority with a value of F/1.7 and be pointing at a bright source with no protection.
  4. Brian S

    Brian S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Apr 11, 2009
    The beauty about my first CCD camera, an RCA CKC-020 video camera used with a separate portable VHS recorder, was that I could point it into the sun without burning out the Vidicon tube of the prior generations. This was in 1985 or so. I used it at airshows, and never worried about the planes flying into the Sun. I would not let the sensor cook, but the Hot Mirror Filter reflects away the Infrared anyway. It has a 2/3rds inch CCD in it, and a manual focus F1.2 6x zoom.
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Way...way back in the day, Leica suggested that you don't leave the camera exposed to direct sunlight for any length of time.
    The shutter curtain was coated with a rubberized coating and they felt it would soften it or something, from the magnifying of the lens.
    I never paid attention and also never had a problem....

    I don't think it's an issue with digicams.....
  6. chalkdust

    chalkdust Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 29, 2009
    McKinney, Texas
    Spark, great question! It caused me to read through the pages of Cautions for my G1. I found nothing about possible damage to the sensor from sunlight through a lens. There were many warnings about other electromagnetic radiation, though.

    And there was an odd warning about insecticides...
  7. squeegee

    squeegee Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 26, 2010
    here's some quotes from the olympus e-p1 manual

    "Do not point the lens attached to the camera toward the sun. This may cause the camera to malfunction or even ignite due to the magnifying effect of sunlight focusing through the lens."

    "Do not look at the sun or strong lights with the camera."

    "Do not leave the camera pointed directly at the sun. This may cause lens or shutter curtain damage, color failure, ghosting on the image pickup device, or may possibly cause fires."

    Part of me really wants to see a video of a camera catching fire due to the "magnification effect of sunlight". I'm not volunteering mine though, maybe one of you guys who have more than one camera can donate to this worthy cause. :biggrin:
  8. Bullfrog

    Bullfrog Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sounds like a job for Mythbusters! :smile:
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