Video: $20K Camera’s Image Sensor Fried by a Concert Laser in Just Seconds

Update: The video has been taken down by the uploader.

The harmful effects of concert lasers when exposed to your camera’s image sensor are well documented. In the past we’ve shared several videos (here and here) that showed three different Canon 5D Mark IIs rendered unusable after a concert laser passed over them for only a second.

And if it can happen to a 5D Mark II, you better believe it can happen to a sensor much more expensive than that. The video above shows what happens when a $20K RED EPIC’s image sensor goes head to head with a similar laser. Gear lovers might want to look away …

Apparently this video was shot at this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival in Chicago, where the laser show, although EPIC in and of itself (pardon the pun), didn’t play nice with the very expensive camera.

Here’s a screen grab of the image before the image sensor was fried:


And here’s an after shot:


As you can see from the video, it took all of a split second to turn a $20K camera into a still functioning, but ultimately useless, machine. So steer clear of concert lasers where your camera’s sensor is concerned unless you want to give you camera a permanent set of Dyptych-like lines.

  • James Brocklehurst

    Wonder what they do to your retina?

  • Stanco55

    Wow! Love the enhanced shadow detail!!!

  • Michael Palmer

    Gotta wonder how these things are still legal to use….

  • hysyanz

    so whats the solution. is there a filter you can put on the lens to stop this sort of thing?

  • niXerKG

    If it hit the camera then would it not have been able to hit the camera operators eye?

    Wonder what killed the sensor, doubt it was actually heat as it looked to be a green laser, but then it could be the mass IR light it gives off. Either way lasers are no freaking joke. Can be fun but can also cause some permanent damage to gear and person.

  • Xavierdjx

    I killed a fuji finepix one day… I was shooting someone else who was taking a picture of me, and I received his flash at the perfect moment I took the picture. I just had only black frames after that

  • spiralphoto

    Electronic viewfinder, not optical. In other words, no.

  • B T

    It was probably being controlled remotely, any way. Still, I wonder what that kind of laser does directly to your eye, like James said at the top.

  • dannybuoy

    Beware of the most sensitive sensor of all. Your eyes. Also beware of the bass next to the speakers too. You could be deaf and blind if you’re not careful.

  • Phatteh

    They’re setup well above anyone’s eyeline. HSE will see to that. Cameras on wires are a different matter however

  • Andrew Iverson

    Counting down the seconds until a celeb (or anyone really) uses a green laser to stop a pap or street shooter, not realizing it could blind them.

  • Not

    my thought exactly!

  • D

    Pretty much the same thing it does to the sensor.

  • thenonhacker

    TIL, Flash a laser on your camera to enhance shadow detail.

  • FelipeGR

    Waiting for the biebs to try something this stupid.

  • Bill

    I am not 100% sure, but this seems to be more evident when the DSLR is used for shooting video, am I correct?

    I mean, I guess it could happen while shooting photos but it would have to be an extreme coincidence of timing to have a laser point directly at the sensor at the same exact time you are shooting that pic.
    In video I can see it, the sensor is wide open all the time, enhancing the chances of this happening.

    Curious, can a factory reset, reset the CMOS or is it pretty much dead?

  • ian hobbs


  • ian hobbs

    No eyes are safe. See my link below.

  • Jason

    I say, kill a pig, make bacon, and donate the eyes to science.

  • lololalallll

    Photons! How do they work?!?

  • Phil Erskine

    What just a flash did that? Whatever do they make a finepix out of?

  • Guest

    It looks like the camera went pretty close to the laser source. I guess that’s a better explanation as not any laser could kill a camera.

  • Zos Xavius

    For real. A flash shouldn’t be enough to cause any damage to the sensor. I call shenanigans. I’ve taken many a selfie with flash against a mirror and my sensor still works just fine. Heck, even the sun magnified on the sensor won’t kill it for a brief exposure. Lasers are BAD though.

  • benny

    … kinda. It’s more to do with the strength of the laser. The distance doesn’t matter so much, as one of the ideas of having a laser in the first place is that the light doesn’t fall off in accordance with the inverse square law.

  • D.G. Brown

    Kinda yes, but it’s not just the camera. In theory, if you used a linearly polarized laser (or a laser with a polarization filter), then you could put a filter on the camera (rotated 90 degrees) and block the laser light out. It would require a lot of coordination, however (especially if the lasers move around a lot).

    If my brain is doing the math right, this would also hide the direct beams, but still show the beams otherwise (since if you can see a beam from a perspective other than head one, what you’re actually seeing is diffuse light bouncing off of particles in the air, which should not be polarized [as much].

  • bobdvb

    Lasers are supposed to be specified so that they dazzel the human eye causing you to blink before you are blinded. Cameras can’t blink.

  • JoanieGranola

    This advice seems to be a “no brainer”. One is not supposed to look directly at a laser with the eye. Why would someone think doing the same with a camera would be different?

  • jan

    Great reason to upgrade the cam to a dragon sensor. (sensor upgrades are pretty standard jobs for these cams)

  • Ron

    Video removed by user.. Hmm i guess he got an email from RED.

  • ProtoWhalePig

    Lol, what would that have to do with anything? It’s his video, not RED’s, and he can do whatever he damn well pleases with it.

  • Bill

    Hey thanks for that link, good info.
    I think I am safe since I rarely ever do video.

  • Cameron

    A camera’s sensor is about 10x more sensitive than your average eye… The lens also magnifies the incoming power. Those were probably 45W RGB opsl lasers, so the lens took the entire power of the green module(probably 15Ws) times 4+ to the sensors. Which in turn would mess it up. The lens on a camera is also much larger than a human pupil.. the average human pupil is 5mm-7mm at MOST.. (sometimes 10mm if you have intoxicants in your system..). My information may be wrong on some points, but I am pretty sure it is somewhat accurate.

  • M

    Strong lasers will burn through lots if things. These, especially the one in doing the wave motion, are very strong. The expensive camera looks to be positioned in the air. That’s just bad judgement. In the other two videos (that work) the lasers are crowd scanning. The first one doing so very slowly and is positioned very close to the crowd. The wave one is definitely too powerful to ever point into a crowd. Sometimes lasers are programmed to reduce power when they drop to crowd level but the lasers themselves need to be positioned higher up to do this. Other poster is correct. This is irresponsible. It would likely have done unnoticed damage to some people’s eyes though this would be hard to prove. You don’t see lasers so much nowadays. When you do you’ll notice they very rarely crowd scan. I think it’s illegal in the US. If that camera was mine I’d contact the company and politely ask they claim for it on their insurance else take them to small claims court. The threat of court action could lead to bad press and a lot more court cases. The camera owner shouldnt be out of pocket because of lighting people, who will know better.

  • livingonenergydrinks

    A few things to keep in mind. Considering the type of show, they were most likely using class 4 lasers. These have to stay well above the heads of the crowd, and if they drop below a certain angle they drop their power to not blind anyone. I have used my sony a99 (Full Frame ) in our club, and taken shots aimed right at our laser show, but since all our lasers are class 3, my camera is fine. I am not saying a class 3 laser can’t do damage if you are point blank to the fixture and let it sit there on your sensor for a long time, but in most cases its not going to happen.

  • Christopher Oaten

    Have i just stumbled upon a way to bring down a Police speed camera ?

  • byteme007

    So they know the lasers will do this; yet they complain about losing a 20K camera??? Huh?
    So use a 300.00 gopro and fry baby fry…