Sony Offically Says Not to Point Lasers at Its Cameras

Sony states that lasers can in fact damage their camera sensors
Credit: Antoine Julien
You've probably heard horror stories and seen viral videos of expensive cameras being ruined by lasers and stage lighting.

Now Sony has released an official warning on the subject.

I feel like it's no secret at this point that lasers are generally a bad thing for digital sensors. Just check out how easy it is for them to get destroyed.

The digital sensor is a beautiful thing.

It's a miraculously mind-blowing piece of delicate technology that is truly a remarkable feat of microscopic engineering with endless tiny little photosites that can capture light and convert them into an energy signal that is then converted into a beautiful digital image, until—

Poof, just like that, the lasers at your brother-in-law's Journey cover band show that you got paid 100 dollars to film just destroyed the whole thing.

In what I can only imagine is a response to a decent influx of recent complaints, Sony has released an official statement on their website (published on July 30, 2021, and discovered originally by Image Sensors World) on the matter.

Sony states, "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. NOTE: In either outdoor or indoor environment when there is a laser display, tendency of direct or indirect (laser beam bounce from reflective object) damage to the camera CMOS Sensor is still very high."

To my personal knowledge, this is the first I've seen of a company stating officially that this is a problem.

I don't know about you, but I think I'm just gonna avoid footage of lasers altogether. Seems like an easy sacrifice to make. No more lasers, got it.

However, you may be surprised what sort of stuff falls under this issue. For instance, in the example below, someone just shooting some footage of tattoo removal had their Sony sensor ruined.

I've seen it happen once on set with projectors as well in a faked movie theater scene. People filming protests in Hong Kong have even had their cameras ruined by protesters using lasers as well.

It's not exclusively one type of laser, or one type of sensor that can be damaged.

So, suffice it to say, just be careful what you're pointing into your lens, and make sure it's not a laser.     

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4 Comments

Just imagine what they do to you

August 3, 2021 at 7:35PM

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Aaron Harper
Rental House Manager
547

That's what I worry about, too! So these lasers can instantly kill a sensor, but they're totally fine for my eyes? Sure...

August 10, 2021 at 8:04AM

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Looks like the perfect argument to shoot on film. But, who's going to lug around a 16mm camera? Shoot stills on film. It's not worth destroying your sensor to get a moving image of a performance. And you still have it recorded for friends and posterity.

Also, are these lights shooting into the eyes of the audience too?

August 6, 2021 at 1:34PM

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Robb Wilson
Director/Owner Miller's Tale Productions
27

I had a broadcast van owner tell me like ten years ago that he doesn't want his (Sony) cameras in the room with lasers. He insisted on shutting everything off and putting caps on the lenses before the laser show started. He said he had killed a 30K broadcast camera once in a laser show and he learned an expensive lesson.

August 10, 2021 at 8:00AM, Edited August 10, 8:00AM

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