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Author Topic: Will mirrorless camera sensor be damaged by HDR that includes the sun?  (Read 4176 times)
Ken W
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« on: March 26, 2014, 12:16:58 PM »
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I am considering purchasing a mirrorless system. One of my uses would be to take landscape photographs. I sometimes photograph scenes that include the sun using the HDR technique. When the sun is part of the composition, I will not use my current camera's (Canon 5D MKII) live view feature when composing the scene since Canon warns against exposing the sensor directly to the sun for a length of time. Because of this I am wondering what the experience and knowledge is of photographers who utilize mirrorless cameras, such as the A7, A7r, Nex 7, A6000, using the HDR technique and also include the sun in their composition.

If I understand the mirrorless technology, the camera is in live view mode all of the time, which could allow the sensor to be exposed to the sun for an extended period of time. Or do I misunderstand how the mirrorless technology works?

I am concerned about damaging the sensor of a mirrorless camera when doing HDR. I would appreciate any thoughts or comments.
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Paul2660
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« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2014, 01:34:39 PM »
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Not sure what you are using HDR for,  exposure blend or some of other more harsh effects. If it's the former and you are using the A7 or A7r just expose for the sun as most times at base iso you can pull up the shadows as much as 2 stops or more.   Very forgiving sensor.  I pretty much never bracket more than 2 shots asking as I am at base iso with a Sony sensor.

As for sun damage I believe you would have leave the shutter open for a real long time over several hours and I still not sure that would damage the sensor.

Paul



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Paul Caldwell
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2014, 02:26:04 PM »
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You can damage any sensor with longer exposures straight into the sun, depends on the length of exposure. Eventually the sites will overheat, sometimes if the angle is right and the lens can focus a tiny beam onto the sensor it is like using a magnifying glass. Just like a laser can damage a sensor during exposure. In general for short exposures no but what the limits are I am not sure depends on a lot of variables. Does not matter whether or not it is mirrorless, live view on a mirrored camera is the same. Looking through a viewfinder at the sun with a lens magnifying is not a good idea without proper filtration. Just common sense things.

Alan
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Alan Smallbone
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Ken W
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2014, 03:04:57 PM »
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I will phrase my question a little differently:

My question is how easily a mirrorless camera's sensor is damaged by direct exposure to the sun. With my Canon 5D MKII, Canon does not recommend using live view when the camera is pointed directly at the sun, because during live view the focal plane shutter opens and the sensor is exposed to the sun. I take this to mean that exposing the sensor to the sun while using live view for the time it takes to compose a scene, say 10 to 20 seconds, can possibly damage the sensor. For this reason I do not use live view to compose the scene and instead use the viewfinder. This way the focal plane shutter is closed and the sensor is only exposed briefly while making exposures. So my question is:

1. On a Sony mirrorless system, the sensor is always exposed to the scene during the entire time the camera is turned on?
2. If this is the case, then wouldn't the sensor be damaged if the camera is pointed directly at the sun while composing the scene? For example a shoot of a particular scene may take place over 15 to 20 minutes, during which time I normally have the camera pointed at the scene, including the sun. As the light changes I will make a series of exposures. So with a mirrorless system I might be exposing the sensor directly to the sun for 15 to 20 minutes. Canon would not recommend using live view for this period of time if the camera is pointed directly at the sun.
3. Or, are the sensors used on a mirrorless system more robust, more resistant to being damaged, when it comes to pointing the camera at the sun? If this is the case, then the mirrorless camera can be pointed directly at the sun while making a series of exposures, say over a 20 minute period of time?

Does any one have experience with a A7 or A7r or Nex 7 or A6000 using it in the way I have described?
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2014, 04:29:23 PM »
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Hi,

This is a concern for me too, but I had mirrorless cameras for three years and using them as any other camera and I have not yet seen any problem.

Best regards
Erik


Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I will phrase my question a little differently:

My question is how easily a mirrorless camera's sensor is damaged by direct exposure to the sun. With my Canon 5D MKII, Canon does not recommend using live view when the camera is pointed directly at the sun, because during live view the focal plane shutter opens and the sensor is exposed to the sun. I take this to mean that exposing the sensor to the sun while using live view for the time it takes to compose a scene, say 10 to 20 seconds, can possibly damage the sensor. For this reason I do not use live view to compose the scene and instead use the viewfinder. This way the focal plane shutter is closed and the sensor is only exposed briefly while making exposures. So my question is:

1. On a Sony mirrorless system, the sensor is always exposed to the scene during the entire time the camera is turned on?
2. If this is the case, then wouldn't the sensor be damaged if the camera is pointed directly at the sun while composing the scene? For example a shoot of a particular scene may take place over 15 to 20 minutes, during which time I normally have the camera pointed at the scene, including the sun. As the light changes I will make a series of exposures. So with a mirrorless system I might be exposing the sensor directly to the sun for 15 to 20 minutes. Canon would not recommend using live view for this period of time if the camera is pointed directly at the sun.
3. Or, are the sensors used on a mirrorless system more robust, more resistant to being damaged, when it comes to pointing the camera at the sun? If this is the case, then the mirrorless camera can be pointed directly at the sun while making a series of exposures, say over a 20 minute period of time?

Does any one have experience with a A7 or A7r or Nex 7 or A6000 using it in the way I have described?
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Paul2660
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2014, 05:01:00 PM »
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I have used both the Nex-7 and several Fuji X series cameras in countless sunset shots, no problems so far.  I also have used Canon and Nikon cameras in even more shoots, more Canon than Nikon, and most often Live view was used on the sunsets and no issues yet. 

I see your point (which I missed before) the EVF/sensor will be continuously exposed to the sun, so far I have not seen any ill effects with the mirrorless cameras I have used. 

Paul
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Paul Caldwell
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2014, 05:59:16 PM »
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My Oly E-M5 has been pointed towards the Sun many times over the past year, sometimes for more than a minute straight, with no ill effects. Not sure if I would shoot a one-hour time-lapse of the sun descending below the horizon, but I'll bet it's been done. I think you'll be okay including the Sun in pics so long as you're sensible about it.

-Dave-
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allegretto
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« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2014, 08:55:22 PM »
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I have used both the Nex-7 and several Fuji X series cameras in countless sunset shots, no problems so far.  I also have used Canon and Nikon cameras in even more shoots, more Canon than Nikon, and most often Live view was used on the sunsets and no issues yet. 

I see your point (which I missed before) the EVF/sensor will be continuously exposed to the sun, so far I have not seen any ill effects with the mirrorless cameras I have used. 

Paul

Sunset light is far lower power than mid day sun. Many other factors too, but low sun is comparatively much safer.
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uvl
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« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2014, 08:55:31 AM »
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Camera sensors aren't made of plastic and they can withstand high temperature and brightness. Additionally high temperature spots would be dissipated to the whole chip and the underlying carrier material. It takes a lot of energy to damage that but what can happen is that the electronics shut down do avoid unexpected results or damage to the circuitery.
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BartvanderWolf
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« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2014, 09:36:47 AM »
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Camera sensors aren't made of plastic and they can withstand high temperature and brightness.

However, the CFA is made of a 'plastic', and it's colors fade just like all color dyes do. When the unobstructed sun disk is in focus (diameter on sensor is approx. Focal length / 107.5), local temperature and intensity will be very high ...

Cheers,
Bart
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uvl
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2014, 01:05:19 PM »
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However, the CFA is made of a 'plastic', and it's colors fade just like all color dyes do. When the unobstructed sun disk is in focus (diameter on sensor is approx. Focal length / 107.5), local temperature and intensity will be very high ...

Cheers,
Bart
That's a valid objection and as a Foveonista I didn't think about that. On the other side I have never heard about sensor bleeching from shooting the sun.
Uwe 8-)
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tsjanik
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2014, 07:39:36 PM »
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Regarding the use of LV: Whatever the damage to a sensor may be (and I suspect it's slight to zero for a short exposure), better the sensor than your eyes Smiley

Here's the transit of Venus (June 2012), taken with a Pentax K-5 and a 67 500mm lens (and a polarizer) with a 67 2x  and 67 1.4x extenders.  I used live view and have seen no indication of sensor damage.  At sunset, so the light was much less intense; good test for CA.

Tom

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Hans van Driest
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« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2014, 02:31:06 AM »
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The good thing with most mirrorless camera's is that they stop down all the time. so the energy of the sun is also reduced by stopping down. at f8 the power density is about 0.175W/square mm (if I did my calculations right). this is independent of fl, since the opening scales with the fl. this power is assuming 1000W/sq.m from the sun. so this is the middle of the day. also assumed is half the power is filtered away by the IR filter.
this type of power density is no problem at all for silicon. it might, in the long run, be a problem for the color filters, but one should not forget the sun, from our point of view, is moving. So even when making a time laps, a pixel is exposed no more then 2 minutes by direct sunlight.
I do have some burn/melt marks on some plastic around the sensor on a Sony nex camera. probably from focusing with the the lens wide open.
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GLJ
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« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2014, 07:39:50 AM »
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That's a valid objection and as a Foveonista I didn't think about that. On the other side I have never heard about sensor bleeching from shooting the sun.
Uwe 8-)

I have seen some posts in the past where someone with a mirrorless camera was shooting inside a nightclub and the evidence presented did suggest that the scanning lasers for the lightshow (which bear in mind were considered safe for normal human viewing) permanently damaged the sensor - probably burning/bleaching the CFA dye.
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adokeeffe
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« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2014, 09:03:06 PM »
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I'm sure that the level of damage to the camera would not be noticeable until it's time for an upgrade anyway, or until some other fault with the camera presents itself.
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Ido Scharf
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« Reply #15 on: May 05, 2014, 01:03:44 PM »
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My Oly E-M5 has been pointed towards the Sun many times over the past year, sometimes for more than a minute straight, with no ill effects. Not sure if I would shoot a one-hour time-lapse of the sun descending below the horizon, but I'll bet it's been done. I think you'll be okay including the Sun in pics so long as you're sensible about it.

-Dave-
I've had the same experience with my OM-D E-M5.
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