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I'm currently near Seattle, and I'm wondering if I can directly photograph the sun through the haze (caused by the smoke from wildfires). The intensity of light coming from the sun isn't as bright at the moment. If I were to try and photograph the sun on a hazy or cloudy day would it damage my lens or camera?

Here's a photo I took with my phone:

Phone photo of current conditions

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    Phones and cameras can lenses can be replaced. Eyes cannot. That's the starting point for researching. – user50888 Sep 6 '17 at 16:08
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    The answer is that it won't hurt anything until it does; there's no bright red line that will appear and say 'this haze is too thin" . There is also a huge component of "how long" involved. We all look briefly at the sun with no protection occasionally, by accident or not; most of us have included the sun in photos. Same idea - a short period is OK, a long period is not, and there's no warning buzzer that will go off to let you know when your eyeball, or sensor, is "cooked", so erring on the side of caution is best. In other words, there is no objective way to answer your question. – Linwood Sep 6 '17 at 18:10
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    @Linwood Your comment is really an answer in disguise. Why not write it as an answer and earn your points? Please see: Short answers as comments — please resist the urge – scottbb Sep 6 '17 at 19:38
  • @scottbb, well, really my answer was there is no answer, but OK, let's see if it flies; it's at odds with the others. – Linwood Sep 6 '17 at 22:02
  • What about DSLRs? – Wilf Sep 6 '17 at 22:31
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There is no objective answer to your question. The reality is that with enough haze it is safe, and with too little it is not; there is no good dividing line or indicator one can give. Your photo certainly indicates very heavy haze but without knowing the details even that could be misleading. There is also an issue of duration; we all look at the sun briefly (accidentally or just because), we all photograph it incidentally at times, without harm. Stare at it, or leave the camera on it for a long time, and bad things happen to eyes or sensor. The same is true of angle of view; a very wide angle lens won't concentrate the sun's energy the same way a long telephoto lens will. No warning buzzer will go off to let you know when you pass the line from warm to cooked, from spots-for-a-while to blind.

I do not suggest there is no time it is safe to do, indeed it is done frequently; I suggest you cannot answer the question usefully in some descriptive way. Be sure to review Lensrental's blog entry regarding damage to equipment from shooting the sun with powerful telephoto lenses, it shows the power of the sun through a photographic lens.

I think the safest approach is, if you have questions about whether it is safe, just do not.

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If the haze is so dense that the sun looks like in your photo, no problem. Which is presumably why you didn't hesitate to take that picture with your phone.

No need to get paranoid over this. We don't walk around all summer frightened that direct sunlight might hit our eyeballs by mistake and blind us. But if we DO glance into the sun, we soon glance away again. If you wouldn't want to look into it, don't ask your camera to.

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No problem, clouds and haze and low-in-the-sky sun is seen with diminished brightness. Often the sun is included in vista. Since the sun's brightness is greatly reduced, under cloudy or hazy, likely no harm will come from imaging the sun itself.

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