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Is it dangerous to take a disto reading aiming towards camera?

Safaran Qureshi

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Was reading about a tip from a 1st ac who sometimes stands on actor marks, asks the 2nd or a PA to put their hands over the sensor plane mark and aim the disto laser towards camera to get measurements. Is the laser dangerous if accidentally pointed towards the lens/sensor of camera when trying to take a reading of the plane?

Just want to make sure that's safe before I try this tip on set.




Edited by Safaran Qureshi
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8 hours ago, Safaran Qureshi said:

Is the laser dangerous if accidentally pointed towards the lens/sensor of camera when trying to take a reading of the plane?

For the avoidance of doubt, yes, it is. Try this.

I would have thought the risk of the 2nd AC getting an eyeful of laser would be non-zero as well. There's a lot to be said for an actual tape.

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OP...dunno about your case. Usually a laser is marked with a warning label about eye damage. If it has a warning label, be careful...they will damage eyes and cameras.

I use Class IV lasers for self-defense. Just one of my self-defense tools I would use in NYC. You can't have much there for self-defense. Later on, I graduated to a 1200 lumen tactical flashlight. Blinds people without permanent eye damage.


Over the years from fooling with lasers I got some eye damage from them. You can get hit even from the reflection of a laser on chrome, mirrors etc. Whenever you work on a laser...always take the batteries out!

If you are worried about your camera, pop the lens cap on. Or have the camera operator hold up a piece of  black carboard over the lens. You may also want to test it out on a junk camera to see what happens to the sensor. I've built up lots of old, out of date digital cameras that are useless more or less nowadays. They are disposable cams I would use in high-risk shoots. 



In the Mosh Pit - 2015

D.D.Teoli Jr.

Yes, the Juggalos would routinely destroy my gear. You only used gear you didn't mind losing. After this shot, they broke the flash off at the hot shoe. If you don't have a disposable camera, buy a cheap digital still cam on eBay and do a blog post about it. Best way to find out is to test, although you still might be taking a risk as every sensor is different.


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as others have said, and to answer the question directly, yes it dangerous to the digital sensor to have a laser pointed at it

however, there are situations where i needed to measure from somewhere on set to the camera, usually to get a natural mark quickly.

just dont aim near the lens... bring the laser carefully from the floor up to the tripod head, or operator's body 🙂, or someone's hand in line with the film plane.

this is usually not a critical mark, so your measuring point doesn't need to be as close to the camera body as possible. just in line with the plane.

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Just to add, even an eye safe laser can damage the sensor or possibly cause eye injuries if someone is using an optical viewfinder. The reflections aren't something to worry about but because the lens focuses things, even a very low power laser can get to some fairly high peak values on a sensor or film plane. Just pop on a lens cap or measure from the camera position

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  • 5 months later...

My Hilti lives on my hip so it comes out constantly and I am very aware of where it is pointing before even turning it on. My hand is often ready to cover the laser if somebody moves or I get bumped.

I regularly walk the scene with a hard tape a laser to gauge where the cast can go and where they might end up (no marks these days). Part of this I will take measures to the camera position. I'm not concerned about being super accurate for this so I point the laser at the tripod head below the camera.

Many of my 2nds are used to standing on marks, holding a board next to their face and closing their eyes. I personally don't like this at all as I never put a laser that close to someone's face even if they close their eyes or cover their face with the board. I'll take a measure to their chest or shoulder. If it's a super critical close up then the soft tape comes out or I take marks from the monitor. 

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I've never heard of pointing the laser at the camera. I don't understand the benefit. Put a PA or something on the mark and measure from camera. Then you can quickly test the measurement by looking through the viewfinder. MUCH faster/simpler .

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