I got my first dSLR, a Nikon D3500, a few weeks ago. Today I was trying out manual mode and for some reason I thought it would be cool to shoot pointing directly at the lamp/lightbulb in the ceiling while moving the camera. Now I am scared that I might have damaged my camera because I've seen posts about how light can damage your camera. I am sorry if this is a dumb question but I just thought I would ask or else I would keep wondering whether or not I somehow damaged it by doing that.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried using the camera since? \$\endgroup\$
    – Mick
    Commented Sep 15, 2020 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mick I have tried using it but I am not sure what a sign of a possible damage would be hence the question \$\endgroup\$
    – debbie
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 18:00

2 Answers 2


The direct view intensity of an indoor electric lamp is generally lower than that of a specular reflection (say, from a car window or chrome hubcap) of the sun when outdoors -- but we don't see loud cautions from camera or sensor manufacturers warning against exposing images that might include reflections of the sun.

In practice, there is only one kind of artificial light source that poses a significant risk to your camera sensor: a laser. Just as you shouldn't look into a laser beam (or even expose your eyes to a specular reflection from a laser above the very lowest power class), you shouldn't take a photo that will have either the direct beam striking the lens in field of view, or a specular reflection of a more powerful laser in view -- I've seen on YouTube where short term exposure to reflections of lasers that can be sold direct to the public has etched permanent color spots (hot pixels) or black spots (dead pixels) on a video camera sensor.

So, don't shoot directly into lasers, or near powerful lasers, or directly at the sun (especially with a fast lens), but don't worry about including a common indoor light bulb in your image frame -- even a 500W halogen won't harm the sensor in a common fractional second exposure, probably not even in a time exposure shorter than a few minutes on a tripod.

Based on comments, to be sure you don't have damage: a damaged sensor would show permanent changes to the values of some pixels. Most commonly you'd have black or colored pixels in the same location in every following frame, but depending on the damage, it's also just possible you could have something like a faint imprint of the light source visible in a sufficiently low-contrast solid color area in the same part of the frame the light occupied. I'm confident you won't see this in your described situation.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Some lasers powerful enough to damage sensors (and eyes!) are installed in outdoor devices like those ones that project a spray of colored spots on a wall around Christmas or Halloween. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 13:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the answer. It was more like directing the camera straight up at the lamp in the ceiling rather than just including it in my frame that's why I was worried. Also the photograph turned out just a complete total white canvas and the aperture was f3.8, don't know if that should worry me or if it changes something in your answer \$\endgroup\$
    – debbie
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 18:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ Still not a problem. You'd know if you had a damaged sensor pretty quickly anyway; you'd have permanent black or white (or colored, due to the Bayer array) spots on any subsequent images. All you did was overexpose enough that all the information from that one frame was overflowed (i.e. every channel of every pixel was all 1, not a zero in sight). \$\endgroup\$
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Sep 16, 2020 at 18:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ And the lasers don't have to be visible: arstechnica.com/cars/2019/01/… \$\endgroup\$
    – AthomSfere
    Commented Sep 22, 2020 at 1:15

No, your camera is fine. You would need to do a long exposure for it to overload the receptors. You are right though. Avoid pointing directly into the sun. It will damage your camera much faster than a light bulb. If you do damage your receptors you will know it.


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