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Digital Camera Image Sensors Permanently Damaged By Concert Laser Display ~ CAUTION โ—โ—

June 10, 2013

Several videos have emerged of concert lasers damaging the sensors in DSLR cameras. One particular example shows lasers damaging the sensor of a Canon EOS 5D MKII. It appears that the laser burns the CMOS sensor’s pixels, while the user is creating a video, rendering it permanently damaged with just a micro-second of exposure.

Here is a link to a 7 second video clip:

Suggestion if you are using any digital camera for photographs or for videos, do not permit the Laser Beam to strike your cameras lens or your eyes, for the Safety of Both.

It is suggested that the lasers cause the damage by heating up the sensitive surface of the sensor. The ILDA (International Laser Display Association) say that camera sensors are often more sensitive to laser light than the human eye. What’s more the damage to one pixel can also cause a whole vertical or horizontal row of pixels to stop working properly, making the damage even more visible.

The lasers can cause dead pixels, which may be visible on photos with areas of uniform colour. Any camera with a CMOS sensor could be susceptible, so it’s recommended that if you attend a concert where there are laser beams to take extra care not to let the beams directly hit the sensor of your camera.

For more information on avoiding laser damage to your Digital Cameras, visit the ILDA site, (International Laser Display Association)

Lasers emit concentrated beams of light, which can heat up sensitive surfaces (like the eye’s retina) and cause damage. Camera sensors, mobile-phone cameras, vidwo cameras are all, in general, very susceptible to damage by Concentrated Laser Light than the human eye. However My advice is if the Laser may Kill your Digital Imager, it may Damage your Vision.

Here is a link to a 7 second video clip:

For large scale shows, such as on a televised concert, laser show producers work with clients to avoid TV camera locations and video projectors (ILDA Members, see this page for details). However, it is not possible for laser show producers to be responsible for all cameras and camcorders which might be at a show.

Therefore, if you attend a show as an audience member, you should take reasonable precautions not to let a laser beam DIRECTLY enter your camera lens.

You can photograph the beams in midair, or doing graphics on a screen. If you can’t see the laser source (projector output aperture or bounce mirror) in your viewfinder, this means you’re not getting the full beam power into your lens. Indirect viewing like this should not cause damage.

Avoid beams which are coming straight into your lens (or bounced off a mirror or other reflective surface and then into your lens). The damage potential is much greater when the entire beam power enters the camera lens.

Eye safety is first. The primary safety concern for laserists is that the show is eye-safe. A good working definition of "eye-safe" is that everyone leaves the show with the same vision they entered โ€“ there is no detrimental change to a person’s vision. International safety standards such as IEC 60825 and ANSI Z136 set "Maximum Permissible Exposure" levels for laser light. Shows done at or below the MPE should cause no problem for human eyes. Even shows which exceed the MPE have remarkably safe records (eight documented or claimed eye injuries out of 109,000,000 persons viewing continuous-wave laser shows over 30 years).

However, there are no MPEs for sensors such as CMOS or CCD chips. This means a show may be perfectly safe for eyes, but could possibly damage a camera sensor. One reason is that camera lenses may gather more laser light, and concentrate it to a finer point. Another reason is that a CMOS or CCD sensor may be more easily damaged than the eye.

Due to the many varying factors involved with lenses and sensors, laser show producers cannot be responsible for audience-member damage to cameras or camcorders.

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