Report: CMOS & CCD Cameras Damaged by Laser

CMOS & CCD Sensors Damaged by Laser

Laser beams may be VERY dangerous, not only for your camera, but also (and much more important) for your eyes.

Through many years we’ve seen and known several cases of cameras damaged by laser, and much more sad: people injured by them as well.

Damage is NOT limited to DSLR with video capturing capabilities. Lasers can damage CMOS and CCD sensor based cameras, DSLR cameras of any brand, P&S compact cameras, camcorders, video cameras, cell phones cameras, and of course your eyes.

Below we post just few examples of cameras permanently damaged by lasers, and some additional information about safety.

We all must keep in mind that a LASER (which comes from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”) may be physically many times more powerful than the direct sun light, focused on a very small area.

The important advice is: be aware of this danger, do not aim your camera to Laser beams, and take really care of your eyes.

Of course, there are laws that regulate the use of lasers, but they may be different on each country, and even not obeyed in lot of events.

The use of lasers in any public show or event requires responsible safety measures and regulations where there’s a maximum laser power allowed. The devices must be managed by trained people and not be aimed to the audience.

Keep in mind that lasers can be reflected on windows, metallic surfaces or any reflective surface as well, making them potentially dangerous even when not directly aimed to the audience.

SAMPLE VIDEOS

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 Laser 5D Mark II sensor KILL
Camer: Canon EOS 5D Mark II

Crash matix Canon 7D – The laser has burned a matrix
Camera: Canon EOS 7D

Moby laser show kills digital camera!
Camer: Fujifilm FinePix F40FD

Lasers killed my CMOS
Camera: Sanyo Xacti HD1010

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If you suffered similar damages, feel free to share your experience posting a comment.

LASER SAFETY

Note: Please check Wikipedia’s Laser Safety article or a reliable technical resource to know more. Below we quote Wikipedia’s article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser:

Even the first laser was recognized as being potentially dangerous. Theodore Maiman characterized the first laser as having a power of one “Gillette” as it could burn through one  Gillette razor blade..

Today, it is accepted that even low-power lasers with only a few milliwatts of output power can be hazardous to human eyesight, when the beam from such a laser hits the eye directly or after reflection from a shiny surface. At wavelengths which the cornea and the lens can focus well, the coherence and low divergence of laser light means that it can be focused by the eye into an extremely small spot on the retina, resulting in localized burning and permanent damage in seconds or even less time.

Lasers are usually labeled with a safety class number, which identifies how dangerous the laser is:

  • Class I/1 is inherently safe, usually because the light is contained in an enclosure, for example in CD players.
  • Class II/2 is safe during normal use; the blink reflex of the eye will prevent damage. Usually up to 1 mW power, for example laser pointers.
  • Class IIIa/3R lasers are usually up to 5 mW and involve a small risk of eye damage within the time of the blink reflex. Staring into such a beam for several seconds is likely to cause damage to a spot on the retina.
  • Class IIIb/3B can cause immediate eye damage upon exposure.
  • Class IV/4 lasers can burn skin, and in some cases, even scattered light can cause eye and/or skin damage. Many industrial and scientific lasers are in this class.

The indicated powers are for visible-light, continuous-wave lasers. For pulsed lasers and invisible wavelengths, other power limits apply. People working with class 3B and class 4 lasers can protect their eyes with safety goggles which are designed to absorb light of a particular wavelength.

MORE INFO & TESTIMONIALS

We just link to a couple of articles, but there are lot more:

REGULATIONS

Quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_safety:

In various jurisdictions, standards bodies, legislation, and government regulations define classes of laser according to the risks associated with them, and define required safety measures for people who may be exposed to those lasers.

In the European Community, eye protection requirements are specified in European norm EN 207. In addition to EN 207, European norm EN 208 specifies requirements for goggles for use during beam alignment. These transmit a portion of the laser light, permitting the operator to see where the beam is, and do not provide complete protection against a direct laser beam hit. Finally, European norm EN 60825 specifies optical densities in extreme situations.

In the U.S., guidance for the use of protective eyewear, and other elements of safe laser use, is given in the ANSI Z136 series of standards. A full copy of these standards can be obtained via ANSI or the secretariat and publisher of these standards, the Laser Institute of America.[9] The standards are as follows:

  • ANSI Z136.1 – Safe Use of Lasers
  • ANSI Z136.3 – Safe Use of Lasers in Health Care Facilities
  • ANSI Z136.4 – Recommended Practice for Laser Safety Measurements for Hazard Evaluation
  • ANSI Z136.5 – Safe Use of Lasers in Educational Institutions
  • ANSI Z136.6 – Safe Use of Lasers Outdoors
  • ANSI Z136.7 – Testing and Labeling of Laser Protective Equipment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires all class IIIb and class IV lasers offered in commerce in the US to have five standard safety features: a key switch, a safety interlock dongle, a power indicator, an aperture shutter, and an emission delay (normally two to three seconds). OEM lasers, designed to be parts of other components (such as DVD burners) are exempt from this requirement. Some non-portable lasers may not have a safety dongle or an emission delay, but have an emergency stop button and/or a remote switch.

MORE INFORMATION

A laser can be classified as operating in either continuous or pulsed mode, so the effect (damage) in your camera or potential injury in your eyes may be different on each case.

Below we include some information extracted from Wikipedia.

The continuous or average power required for some uses:
Power Use
1-5 mW Laser pointers
5 mW CD-ROM drive
5–10 mW DVD player or DVD-ROM drive
100 mW High-speed CD-RW burner
250 mW Consumer 16x DVD-R burner
400 mW Burning through a jewel case including disk within 4 seconds[31]
DVD 24x dual-layer recording.[32]
1 W Green laser in current Holographic Versatile Disc prototype development
1–20 W Output of the majority of commercially available solid-state lasers used for micro machining
30–100 W Typical sealed CO2 surgical lasers[33]
100–3000 W Typical sealed CO2 lasers used in industrial laser cutting
5 kW Output power achieved by a 1 cm diode laser bar[34]
100 kW Claimed output of a CO2 laser being developed by Northrop Grumman for military (weapon) applications

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