A few unfortunate photographers have found out the hard way that lasers can permanently damage camera sensors. Now Sony has listed the warning on its website, hopefully preventing further accidents.
Reports of photographers inadvertently destroying photosites on their camera sensors by exposing them to lasers crop up periodically in the industry press. Laser displays at live music venues and wedding receptions are common culprits with perhaps slightly less experienced photographers and videographers more susceptible to the problem by simply not having encountered discussions of the risks.
As spotted by Image Sensors World, Sony’s websites (1, 2) now offer a warning to users: “Do not directly expose the Lens to beams such as laser beams. This may cause damage to the image sensor and cause the camera to malfunction.” Sony also adds that direct exposure isn’t the only risk; reflections bouncing into the lens can also cause permanent damage.
A light display at an outdoor concert burns rows of pixels on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Those unlucky enough to have experienced damage soon realize that the cost of replacing the sensor is often not that far short of replacing the entire camera. In short, if there are any lasers in use, it's best not to use your camera at all.
Lead image by Gerardo Lazzari and used under Creative Commons BY 2.0.