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Will lens flares wreck my XH-A1S CCD?


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#1 Mark A. Rapp

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 06:25 PM

I am planning a feature shoot upcoming where I will be emulating a 1970s aesthetic, including a well-place lens flare here and there. I will be shooting with the Canon XH-A1S with a Letus and Nikon SLR lenses. My intention is to produce genuine lens flares and not to add them in post. Questions:

1. If I shoot directly into the sun, is the camera at risk through that many pieces of glass (Letus + Nikon lenses)?

2. Is the risk (if any) only a matter of duration of exposure to direct sunlight? If so, what is an acceptable duration?

3. If the camera is at risk, is there a solution whereby I can shoot into the sun and not turn the CCD into crispy junk?

4. Can I shoot "at" the sun, meaning, can I shoot safely in the general direction with the sun just off-screen?

I would appreciate some learned advice! Thanks.
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 20 March 2011 - 07:41 PM

1. If I shoot directly into the sun, is the camera at risk through that many pieces of glass (Letus + Nikon lenses)?




Theoretically yes, but usually you can get away with it for at least a few seconds. Your mileage may vary, but there's been an extremely pretty documentary series on the BBC here in the UK recently (Brian Cox's The Wonders of the Universe) which has used a lot of lens flares, people talking with the sun behind the head, then moving aside to flare out the shot. They seem to get away with it.

2. Is the risk (if any) only a matter of duration of exposure to direct sunlight? If so, what is an acceptable duration?




Nobody's going to answer that question - they don't want to be responsible for replacing your camera! Personally I've done sun shots that lasted ten seconds or so and never had a problem, but again, your mileage may vary.

3. If the camera is at risk, is there a solution whereby I can shoot into the sun and not turn the CCD into crispy junk?




Not really. You could argue that using heavy UV and IR filtering might reduce the amount of invisible radiation entering the lens, but I suspect the total amount of energy coming out of our local star would make that fairly irrelevant.

4. Can I shoot "at" the sun, meaning, can I shoot safely in the general direction with the sun just off-screen?




Not with complete impunity. If you don't land the image of the star on the sensor, you're less likely to wreck the sensor. That said, there are other delicate components in the lens and port aperture of the camera which might be damaged by heat - warping an iris blade is not going to do the lens any good. Again, though, I've never had a problem, using a reasonable amount of care and common sense.


This is done fairly commonly but I suspect most of the people who do it were aware of the issues. Unfortunately, I can't assure you it is entirely risk-free.


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#3 Mark A. Rapp

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 10:22 AM

Thanks very much for the opinions and info, Phil.
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#4 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 05:27 PM

A lot of it has to do with the direct heat your focusing onto the sensor. Through a Letus adaptor, it's most likely quite safe since the heat from the son isn't hitting the sensor directly, but is being filtered through a ground glass. If you're just on your regular lens, don't LEAVE it pointed at the sun, get the shot then point away so it stays cool.

Edited by Jonathan Bowerbank, 07 April 2011 - 05:28 PM.

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