What Laser Light Can Do to Your Precious DSLR Sensor

We all know pointing your DSLR directly at the sun for extended periods of time isn’t too healthy for your sensor, but what about laser lights like the ones used at concerts? Turns out those can be even more lethal for your camera, even with very brief exposures.

Here are two videos shot with DSLR cameras that show a laser briefly passing over the camera and damaging the sensor permanently. Both were shot with Canon 5D Mark II cameras:

See the white line that appears immediately after the laser sweeps across?

It’s interesting how similar the two lines are, especially given that both people were using the same camera. Hopefully none of us ever see the “white line of death” suddenly appear on our LCDs.

(via Laughing Squid)

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    what about your eyes?!

  • ryansiemers

    Wild……. I wonder if this has to do with a particular wavelength the sensor is picking up at that part of the shot. Especially since the two samples are remarkably close together. Does the sensor recover or is it just toast after this?

  • Eric_Allison

    The lasers were probably a coincidence. I think that awful music is to blame.

  • Craig Damlo

    Does anyone have proof that this was permanent? I saw this a few days ago, and it simply shows that they sensor was over saturated during filming. But I wonder after the video stopped if the camera could reset those sensors.

  • Brett

    I've shot plenty of timelapses with the sun in the shot for hours and hours, With decently long shutter times. And haven't had a problem. I have a feeling it might be that particular camera having issues.

  • iCaci

    I find it strange that in the second video the laser hit the DSLR several times yet only one “line of death” appears.

  • Ephemera

    That was some seriously irresponsible use of the laser from a human safety perspective let alone an electronics one. There's no way that's a class IIIa laser and even scanned through chemical fog, it's just not safe to let it get near audience eye level at all. That said, perhaps if we had more info, we'd learn, unlike an eye, the sensor recovers over time.

  • seegullmedia

    I would be horror struck if this happened to my brand new 5D Mark II. Thanks for the post, I'll keep it pointed safely away from any dangerous lasers!

  • Mike


  • David Bain

    Also carries a strong message that not only does it wreck your camera, but I'd imagine too much exposure to a laser and your eyes could easily end up like this. Solution to this, anti-laser sensors or just don't point your camera at a laser.

  • sevenbates

    The reason you only see one line even though the laser “pointed” at the DSLR sensor a few times in the second video, is because of the angle. Watch closely in both videos and you'll see the point where the line appears is when the source of the laser is perpendicular to the sensor.

    It is only when the sensor can see the source of the laser, that the photos cause the damage. Many scientific experiments that used digital cameras to record data where lasers were being used, suffered the same fate. Eventually, some observant people noticed that you can point a laser at a CMOS sensor without damaging it, as long as your sensor is never facing the source directly.

    NOTE: While there have been some instances where multiple lines have shown up on CMOS sensors, it's rare. Additionally, many sensors *can* be reset (though not always) if you simply shoot a solid white wall with some strong overexposure.

  • bob

    More evidence showing that digital cameras are shit and gay.

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  • mojoreel

    sample of lazer shot that i did to make my company montage. luckily nothing happen to my sensor. the distance between the lazer & my lense are about 1 inch & facing straight towards the lazer & the lazer beams really pointing straight towards the lense. shot using canon 60d

    see the beginning intro. dont bother with the wedding video. cheers!

  • Herp derp

    uh… the video is password protected.

  • Guy above me is useless

    Thanks for your contribution to the discussion and wonderful insight.

  • Richard Ussery

    I agree with you David,but what’s to keep people from doing it just to be mean?There are plenty of those sort out there.

  • thenonhacker

    Sunlight is different from laser light.

    To simulate laser from sunlight, get a magnifying lens, then direct it to your camera’s sensor for a second.

  • dutchedangle

    we all love bob dylan sure… but just listening to bobby and no one else gets boring for some of us… please understand