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Thread: Do ND filters make good sunglasses?

  1. #1
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    Default Do ND filters make good sunglasses?

    It's difficult to photograph the sun. I try not to look at it so as not to damage my retina, but sometimes you just have to to get a good composition.
    I put a Kenko ND400(9 stops) filter on my lens and look through the viewfinder to compose.(I tried using the LCD screen but I couldn't manually select the AF points) Is that safe? Does it block out the other rays of harmful light? (infra-red, UV)
    I just tried it today so I'm a little worried for my eyes. If it's not safe, then how should I take photos with the sun in them? (I was shooting at around 6:20pm)

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    Default Re: Do ND filters make good sunglasses?

    Just to clarify, I'm not actually zooming in with a 500mm prime to take a photo of the sun. It's just a nice backdrop to the beach I was at.(was waiting for sunset colours but was too impatient, so I shot before the sun started to set)

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    Moderator daredevil123's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do ND filters make good sunglasses?

    Quote Originally Posted by megain View Post
    Just to clarify, I'm not actually zooming in with a 500mm prime to take a photo of the sun. It's just a nice backdrop to the beach I was at.(was waiting for sunset colours but was too impatient, so I shot before the sun started to set)
    First time I heard someone getting too impatient and started to shoot a sunset before the sunset...

    I am sure your eyes are fine. And please do not point the camera directly at afternoon sun.,. you can get blinded if you are looking through the viewfinder... and if you fired off a shot, you could burn your sensor.

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    Senior Member giantcanopy's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do ND filters make good sunglasses?

    I think you are worrying too much dear megain. I do not see any ills if you are doing a simple short composition.

    However if you are using a telephoto lens to shoot a near frame filling sun, without proper filters the lens acts like a magnifier of sorts and can damage the eye and sensor ( the potential sensor damage part was according to an email exchange with one of the astro folks from Thousand Oaks, sounds pretty logical, or maybe they wanted me to buy their solar filters . . )

    Ryan

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    Default Re: Do ND filters make good sunglasses?

    idk, maybe I am worrying too much. Cause I saw a website that said even a few seconds of looking at the sun will cause temporary or permanent eye damage.(but they didn't say anything about ND filters) so I'm not sure if they're still fine or whether I should continue this practice.

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    Default Re: Do ND filters make good sunglasses?

    Quote Originally Posted by megain View Post
    idk, maybe I am worrying too much. Cause I saw a website that said even a few seconds of looking at the sun will cause temporary or permanent eye damage.(but they didn't say anything about ND filters) so I'm not sure if they're still fine or whether I should continue this practice.
    Did they also state how they looked into the sun to get this damage? Most of these urban myths come from misunderstanding and leaving out important details. At 6:20pm I would say the ND400 is good enough as protection for visible light. But not sure about IR. Colour casts are frequently reported, being caused by IR light which is not blocked in the same way as visible light.
    EOS

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    Let me throw in my 2 cents.
    Caution: I'm not a pro photographer, but I am in science and use laser based imaging for a living.
    Looking straight into the sun is harmful to you but your natural reflex to close your eyes will counteract that under normal circumstances.
    However, if you still hold your eyes open you can damage the retina.
    In special cases like solar eclipses where the amount of visible light goes down, there's still a lot of IR which causes eye damage and can even cause blindness as your iris is wide open.
    The problem I see with nd filters is that as they may cut visible light but not uv and ir (you'll need to check the filter characteristics), it might still damage your eye by letting you open the iris full.
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