Yet Another Reminder to Keep Your Poor Camera Sensor Away from Lasers!

After all the videos and examples posted online of everything from RED EPICs to 5D Mark IIs being fried by lasers, you’d think just about everybody in the photo community would know to keep their cameras safely stowed during a show where lasers are at play.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case, and we have yet another example getting attention on the Internet, this one showing a poor Canon 5D Mark III being converted to ‘junk’ status in no time flat.

So take this as yet another reminder to either keep your camera down or, if you’re going to shoot, only take stills and never use the live view. Although that’s far from a foolproof method, the less time your sensor is exposed, the less chance you’ll end up with automatic diptych lines that never go away.

(via Reddit)

  • slvrscoobie

    ehh, you can nearest neighbor that line out in software easily enough. intersting that it takes 1 ok, 2nd one blasts it, then another 3-4 hit it without further issue. Must be something with the timing, or electronic gate that it fries.

  • Ian

    Every time I read these stories, I wonder how these lasers can be safe for our eyes…

  • hugh crawford

    Does anyone know whether the camera has to be turned on for this to happen or is the simply exposing the sensor to the laser enough?

    My guess is that since the entire column of photo-sites gets killed it’s actually not the light itself that does the damage but the sudden spike in the signal for a single column. I’d test it myself but I don’t have any cameras I feel like killing to find out.

    Reminds me of the old days when Leicas would get holes in their shutters if you put them down facing the sky without the lens cap on. That’s the real reason that Nikon F series cameras had Titanium foil shutters, they inherited them from the rangefinder Nikons which had a cloth shutter burning problem

  • Anthony

    What is up with all these REDs and 5D’s getting wrecked by a laser? I’ve gotten dazzled by laser effects while using a Sony and am yet to see any wrecked sensor. Maybe it’s the translucent mirror?

  • James Brown

    Those lasers aren’t safe for your eyes…. you should never look into one.

  • OpinadorCompulsivo

    A couple of months I was in a no-camera show in Buenos Aires (Steven Wilson band) and the venue’s security staff were checking for people trying to sneak a picture with their phones, and promptly firing green lasers on them…

  • Anthony

    Commercial laser effects are built in such a way to not fixate on a specific point. Most use a mechanism to move or scan the venue to create that effect. The movement in scanning is designed to minimize the harmful exposure to the laser by constantly being on the move. If it’s just standing still and pointing at one spot or the audience is getting blinded, then something is very wrong.

    Edit: To avoid confusing other readers whose reading comprehension skills aren’t up to snuff, I’d like to clarify that I stated scanning is intended to minimize harm. Nowhere in my comment do I state, claim, or aver that audience scanning is safe or that it eliminates any danger.

  • Guest

    This guy was using live view, so the mirror was locked up.

  • alexcookemusic

    This person was using Live View, so the mirror was locked up.

  • Anthony

    I realize that, thank you. If it was bouncing off the mirror we would be talking about damage to his eye, not his camera.

  • GimmeGimme

    If anyone has a fried sensor from this happening,I will gladly take the camera off your hands, for free.

  • ms

    right but Anthony is talking about a Sony SLT where the mirror never goes up (I think) which might be why he hasn’t had his camera damaged

  • Matthew Fleisher

    Doesn’t the shutter have to be open for the sensor to be exposed to anything? I’m no expert here, but….

  • Matthew Fleisher

    I would shoot more lasers at it and call it a special effects party camera.

  • lololalallll


  • maarten

    I have been using (photo and video) a 50D, 5D mark I, II, II and 7D in laser infested festivals and clubs, in the middle of the action. Still going strong.

    Maybe it’s a combination of settings (high f?) and laser?

  • Bobo’s Bayou

    That is incorrect. Scanning does nothing to protect your eyes. Laser damage happens faster than the human eye can blink. And now matter how fast the scan is it’s still only one beam being moved. There is no safe way to audience scan in
    Ess you have a diffraction lens through pangolin. Period

  • hugh crawford

    Sony NEX cameras have the shutter open all the time except for closing for a fraction of a second before and after exposure. When the camera is turned off the shutter is open. The only reason it has a shutter is because the cmos sensor does not have a global shutter.

    I think some other mirrorless cameras have open shutters most of the time, but I don’t have direct experience.

    The reason I’m interested is that there are some techniques for aligning an optical system, the subject plane, and the film plane using a laser, but I don’t want to fry a camera.

  • Stan

    Well, when you shoot video with a DSLR the mirror will have to be locked up…. Still doesn’t explain why the sensor got fried.

  • Anthony

    I never said it protects the eyes, I said it minimizes harmful exposure. How about some reading inb4 commenting? :)

  • Felipe_Paredes

    “minimize the harmful exposure” Keyboard Warrior

  • ninpou_kobanashi

    Hmmm, I had pumped low power laser light into my D700 for a while w/o any side effects. This is the first that I have heard of this. Does any one know if this is a brand specific type defect/weakness?

  • Anthony

    That’s all I wanted to know, because whether I’m taking video or composing shots, the sensor is in Live View 24/7. Obviously I’m not taking any direct hits to my eyes through the EVF, but I still see the scans pass in front of me like the video above.

    Edit: You probably jinxed me, but now we will know if SLT’s can get fried.

  • noisejammer

    A lesson from my old laser lab…
    Don’t stare into the laser with your remaining good eye….

    I’ve seen images from fried sensors from Red. Canon 5D2 & 5D3 and the Fuji X-E1 (which uses a Sony chip.) I suspect most high resolution chips are vulnerable but it’s probably a combination of elevating the camera above the crowd, f-number and quality of focus.

  • BingoBill

    You’re close, but as Bob’s Bayou points out, a scan from a >1W laser will burn your retina before you can blink your eye. Real professional commercial lasers will never scan the audience. Picture a standard club hall, with the main floor and the VIP balcony. A proper professional laser setup will scan between the Balcony wall (i.e. below the balcony but above the floor) or the ceiling. It will never point into the crowd. If you ever see lasers pointing directly into people it’s highly irresponsibly, dangerous and definitely opens them up to a lawsuit.

  • Anthony

    Dear BingoBill, regulations surrounding audience scanning vary by country. The FDA does not permit audience scanning in the United States. Bobo only pointed out that scanning is not safe, which I already pointed out by stating that it minimizes risk. Nowhere do I state that scanning is SAFE. Minimizing is not equal to eliminating, because even if you were to minimize the risk to a 1% chance, it would not be eliminated.

    Please read and THEN comment.

  • Anthony

    Fuji X-E1 doesn’t have a Sony sensor…

  • Matt Wheeler

    As do the Alpha SLT line including the a65, a77 and a99. The shutter is open continuously both on and off, except, like you stated, a fraction before and after the exposure.

    (owner of a77)

  • Matt Wheeler

    I have an a77, maybe the translucent mirror diffracts the laser beam into a less harmful beam? That’s a complete shot in the dark though, I’m no light and physics genius.

  • jeronimo

    In fact it doesn’t even shut before exposure if you activate the “electronic front curtain” option

  • noisejammer


    The X-Pro1 and X-E1 employ a widely used Sony sensor with a bespoke colour mask. It’s the same sensor that is used in the Pentax K-01. see