Watch your viewfinder in bright sunshine (viewfinders with magnifiers or loupes).

Just a reminder to anyone using a viewfinder fitted with an eyepiece, magnifier or loupe not to leave it pointing up at the sun. Every year I see dozens of examples of burnt  and damaged LCD screens and OLED displays caused by sunlight entering the viewfinder eyepiece and getting focussed onto the screen and burning or melting it.

It can only take a few seconds for the damage to occur and it’s normally irreversible. Even walking from shot to shot with the camera viewfinder pointed towards the sky can be enough to do damage if the sun is out.

So be careful, cover or cap the viewfinder when you are not using it. Tilt it down when carrying the camera between locations or shots. Don’t turn to chat to someone else on set and leave the VF pointing at the sun. If you are shooting outside on a bright sunny day consider using a comfort shade such as an umbrella or large flag above your shooting position to keep both you and the camera out of the sun.

Damage to the viewfinder can appear as a smudge or dark patch on the screen that does not wipe off. If the cameras was left for a long period it may appear as a dark line across the image. You can also sometimes melt the surround to the LCD or OLED screen.

As well as the viewfinder don’t point your camera directly into the sun. Even an ND filter may not protect the sensor from damage as most regular ND filters allow the infra red wavelengths that do much of the damage straight through.  Shutter speed makes no difference to the amount of light hitting the sensor in a video camera, so even at a high shutter speed damage to the cameras sensor or internal ND’s can occur. So be careful when shooting into the sun. Use an IR ND filter and avoid shooting with the aperture wide open, especially with static shots such as time-lapse.


4 thoughts on “Watch your viewfinder in bright sunshine (viewfinders with magnifiers or loupes).”

  1. Thanks for the safety tip!

    Q: Are screens, viewfinders and sensors safe from sun damage if the camera is turned off?

    I’m curious how people shoot sunrise time lapses without causing damage to their camera’s sensor.

    1. Both sensor and viewfinder can be damaged when off.

      I have shot many time-lapse sunsets but I always use a small aperture to control the amount of light hitting the sensor. Generally if the shot is exposed correctly the sensor and ND filters will be OK, but pointing the camera in the direction of the sun with no filtration and a wide open aperture my cause damage.

  2. Good tips, Alister.

    I would like to add something that happened to me the other day with my FS7. On the FS7 there is an eyecup on the LCD viewfinder that flips up to allow you to view the LCD without putting your face up to the eyepiece.

    The issue was that when the eyecup was flipped up, it was perfectly aligned with the sun up and in front of the camera and was magnifying and focusing the sun on my face when I was looking at the LCD. I felt a very warm spot on my face and moved away. So even more importantly than damaging your camera, watch out for where you leave that eyecup pointing. You might burn yourself.

    The same warning applies to users of F5 and F55 with the DVF-L350 viewfinder with flip up eyecup.

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