by ʇolɐǝz ǝɥʇ qoq

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I'm slightly inspired by the picture in this question involving candle flames.

I'm interested in taking similar pictures of candle flames and fire more generally, but I worry that it might cause damage to either the optics or the sensor. Is this a legitimate worry?

In case the answer would vary based on the quality of my equipment, I currently have a Canon 550D, the standard 18-55mm kit lens and a Tamron 70-300mm (all fairly low-level stuff, I know).

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Unless you get so close to the flame that you burn or get soot on the front lens element, photographing candles will not damage your camera.

Assuming your 70-300 lens has the same 1:2 macro setting as mine, this is probably your best option; I have taken some good shots of igniting matches with that lens.

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Correct. But on the same line of thought: do be careful about lasers. Those can damage your sensor. – Roflo Oct 21 '12 at 18:29
@Roflo What about eyes when you look through view finder. Need to be careful when shooting a bright Sun as well. – GoodSp33d Oct 22 '12 at 8:15
Right @kantu, that's worth mentioning too. – Roflo Oct 22 '12 at 20:19

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