Filming the Eclipse?

How would I film the Eclipse without doing any harm to my lens?

It may be simple, I just do not have any experience in doing something like that.

I have a Canon Rebel t6i with the Canon 18-55mm lens.

I also have a DJI Phantom 3 Standard.

Thanks in advance :)



  • Another thing is that I want to time lapse the Eclipse with my T6i and I believe there is two ways of doing that:

    • Intervals: Taking pictures with the interval device, I do not know much about it, but I have one, it came with the kit I own.
    • Taking a video then speeding it up in post

    Please let me know what you all think, thanks :)

  • @HIS_Films  I'm kind of hesitant to give an suggestions for this because the potential for error is so great, but, having said that, back in the 80s we had a partial eclipse that I managed to get a few shots of by using an old school color negative that had been thinly exposed.  Now, this was a film camera so there may be differences, and it was partial so there's a definite difference.  Please, be safe and wait for other recommendations before listening to anything I have said.

  • edited August 2017

    @tddavis Thank you for commenting, yea I will wait and be safe before I take any chances :)

    Any suggestions on the timelapse?

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    The simplest answer I can give is to stack a lot of ND filters on the front of your lens. ND filters are like sunglasses. I'm thinking you'd need two or three, depending on the density of the filter, or, at least one of the ridiculously dense filters, like ND100 or higher. 

    Or, see what this article says.

  • Hey @Triem23 Thank you for the tips! I can not wait to see the Eclipse, First time for me! Hopefully it will not be cloudy :)

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Hopefully. Get near a tree as well. Oddly enough you'll find as the eclipse progresses you'll see the light filtering through trees taking on crescent shapes as it hits the ground like using a custom aperture shape on a lens. You'll probably want to snap that with a secondary camera (phone?). 

  • I got my drone I might be able to do that with :) or something thanks Triem!

  • DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert on these matters...

    1. YOU MUST HAVE A QUALIFIED SOLAR FILTER on the front of your lens!  Don't risk ruining your camera (or your eyes) by guessing at this.

    I bought a sheet of Solar Filter from eBay a couple weeks ago, and I'd better get busy making some filters with it!  (It looks like the seller is currently away -- maybe others are available, but there is very little time left...)

    This filter blocks 99.999% of the sunlight (i.e. passes only 0.001%).  I saw somewhere what the equivalent ND (neutral density) factor was -- and it was really high -- but I don't recall it.  It seemed like you would need a very big stack of ND filters to achieve this level of filtering!  (And a big stack of filters => lots of reflections in your image?)

    2. THE FILTER GOES ON THE FRONT OF YOUR LENS or binoculars, etc.

    If you have or get hold of a pair of eclipse glasses, don't put the glasses on and then use binoculars to look at the sun.  The binoculars will concentrate the light and it will be too strong for the glasses, and in turn could damage your eyes.  The right way is to have the solar filter on the front of your binoculars, so that the light level is attenuated right from the start.

    3. DURING TOTALITY (and only then) it is safe to look directly at the sun's corona, or to photograph directly.

    But this is only if you are in the 70-mile-wide path of totality.  If even a bit of the sun is visible, you need the protection of a solar filter.  And if you are in totality, and take the solar filter off your camera for a few pictures, don't forget to put it back on before the sun reappears!

    I'll be driving about 5 hours to Hopkinsville Kentucky to see the eclipse in totality.  I don't know what to expect!  Traffic could be absolutely insane.  I have a hotel booked about 90 minutes away (closest I could find several weeks ago), but still, I feel like I better get on the road really early that day.  (I also bought a portable toilet to have in the van -- just in case, you know...)

    4. THERE WILL BE TONS OF PICTURES ON THE INTERNET... so don't obsess, don't take risks... just enjoy the eclipse experience.  You don't want to spend the rest of your life with an image of the 2017 eclipse burned into your retina.

    Remember using the sun and a magnifying glass to burn paper (or bugs)?  Don't do that to your eyes.  Or your camera sensor.  Or even your camera shutter.

    For those of you outside the USA, wondering what the hoopla is about:


  • Wow,  @TimLan635 Thanks for all the info :) I will look into all that you said, and study before, I do anything :) I am in Virginia, so the moon will not cover totally, so I got to plan for that as well :)

  • Nevermind it is not available

  • #12 welding glass. Found at any welding supply outfit. 

  • @GrayMotion Really? I will look for that, thanks!

    edited August 2017

    1. UV filters are built in to the camera itself, don't waste money on "protection" for your lens.  Use the glass on the lens without anything infront.  Solar filter is preferred

    2. Don't look through the viewfinder of your camera without proper glasses or solar filter, use the LCD to frame your shots to be on the safe side. 

    3. If you want to stare at the eclipse yourself, then wear glasses with  ISO 12312-2 certification. Make sure it's real and not a fake certification and you're good to go.


  • Thank you @CNK for the tips, all this will help a ton, thanks :)

  • No problem, happy to help you save some money. It blows my mind even today that people think they need UV and IR protection for their DSLR's...

  • @CNK Interesting , Yea it is going to save me money, and that makes me happy :)

  • Like I said at the start of my post, I'm not an expert.

    However, I think Canon and Nikon are, and they both say you can damage your camera without a proper filter:

    Check the first paragraph here:

    Read the third paragraph under "Safety" here:

    Here are photos about a situation I had not thought about: just having your camera sitting on a table in the sun without a lens cap, such that the sun is going into the lens when you aren't even using it.  Likewise, when you point your camera toward the sun to take a picture, but keep the sun out of the picture, there is still a good chance that the sun is entering the lens and melting something off-axis, just outside the area of the sensor.  Having an unfiltered camera on a tripod pointed at the sun for a long time just seems risky.

    I think damage is unlikely during sunrise or sunset, when the sunlight is passing through so much more atmosphere before it reaches you.  But the eclipse is mid-day for the USA.

    But, no need to wait for eclipse day to test this.  Point your camera at the sun today or tomorrow, and see what happens.  Maybe all is fine, and if not -- you'll still have time to buy a new camera before the eclipse on Monday.  :-)

    (Seriously, though, I can't say authoritatively that you'll damage your camera.  Maybe you'll be fine.  I just don't want to take that risk myself.)

  • edited August 2017

    I got three ND filters, so I will use those, and I will test those before the Eclipse, hopefully that will be okay, but thank you so much for your help @TimLan635


    edited August 2017

    The sensors themselves are protected, inside the SLR's, remember that it's digital. The lens itself is just  really high quality glass with a special coating to prevent scratches and what not.

    I would like to point out also, that the solar filter they're referring to, can't be anything else but ND filters, just a fancier name for them. First time hearing that name.

     Overexposing an image is probably what they ment, I guess?

  • So the camera I have fits your description @CNK for the sensors? The canon Rebel t6i?

  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator
    edited August 2017

    @CNK Camera sensors are not fully protected from UV. There are filters for IR and some UV but they aren't for protection. A camera sensor is sensitive to a far greater range of light than the human eye. Capturing the full range a sensor is capable of produces images that don't look very good so the filters are for preventing some IR and UV parts of the spectrum from distorting the visible light portion of the images being gathered, not protection.

    Even with the internal filters many cameras are used "as is" for reflective UV photography but it's reflective meaning you only capture UV after it's bounced off the subject like normal photography and external filters are used to block all visible and IR wavelengths. Since it is reflective, the camera sensor is only getting a tiny fraction of the total available energy.

    UV induced fluorescence photography requires a filter that blocks all UV and IR going well beyond what a sensor filter does.

    Filming an eclipse is direct UV photography because you are filming the UV radiation source. This is a whole other beast to deal with because you're talking about many many times more energy than you could ever get from reflective sources. A normal reflective daylight shot works out to be around % 0.01 of the available energy hitting the sensor. Trying for a close up of the sun with a Tiffen ND 2.4 giving you 8 stops of reduction works out to be around %0.4 of the available light energy. That's 40 times more energy than a camera sensor typically sees! That amount of energy is not something a camera sensor was ever meant to deal with and too much for too long can damage a sensor.

    Excessive UV can break down the components the sensor is made from. Think of a plastic cup left outside in the sun too long that crumbles when you try to pick it up. It's not the weather that caused that, it's the UV breaking down the molecular bonds of the plastic that caused it. UV can affect a sensor in the same way if it's subjected to extreme levels for  a long period of time like filming an eclipse.

    Solar filters have been around quite a while. They block all UV and IR like a UV induced fluorescence filter but they also incorporate something  like an extreme ND filter that's on Russian steroids. A pretty extreme ND filter will give you 10 stops of reduction. A solar filter gives you even more. Solar filters normally use the Tiffen ND scale (often listed as OD toobecause it's based on Optical Density) and they typically start at ND3.6 for 12 stops of reduction but ND3.9 with 13 stops is generally the minimum safe recommendation for the camera, not the human behind it. A human needs 14+ stops of reduction so if you're using a true SLR and want to look through the camera, you'll need more filter, ND4.2 or greater.

    Supposedly cell phone cameras use a wide enough angle lens that they can get by without using a filter but I would use at least a pair of sunglasses in front of the lens just to be safe. If you're using an add on lens definitely use some type of filter.

    @GrayMotion 's recommendation of #12 welding glass provides 15 stops of reduction. Safe for the camera and the human. I used to know the math to go from welding glass shades to stops of reduction but I don't remember it anymore because I'm lazy and use a handy table instead.


  • @Aladdin4d does the aperture play a big part when it comes to damage to the equipment? It just seems so odd to me, because to me it sounds like you have to point your camera with the mirror up for a while (1-2 minutes?) before you start damaging it from overheating the internals. In the end a solar filter (unless I'm missing something) is mainly for exposures sake only. I was aiming more for photography though, obviously the mirror is up while you're recording, so I can see why that could be an issue.

  • @CNK

    does the aperture play a big part when it comes to damage to the equipment?


    Aperture doesn't play as big a part as magnification. A wide angle lens is much much safer than a 200 mm  or longer focal length lens but where's the fun in that?

    to me it sounds like you have to point your camera with the mirror up for a while (1-2 minutes?) before you start damaging it from overheating the internals.

    The intense UV can be doing damage even before any overheating is noticed. The internals of a camera aren't all that great at dumping heat either. Multiple 8 seconds shots will eventually build up as much heat as a single 1 minute shot because the camera sensor doesn't have a Noctua NH‑D15 hanging off the back of it to dump excess heat.

    In the end a solar filter (unless I'm missing something) is mainly for exposures sake only.

    You're missing the part where a solar filter blocks all UV and IR. The internal filters of the camera don't and neither do standard ND filters. Most will block even more than that. Odds are the vast majority of solar or eclipse imagery you've ever seen was captured using Thousand Oaks Optical SolarLite filters. They block everything except a narrow 50 nm band between 580  and 630 nm.  

    Another option is to get a  UV/IR band pass filter. This would allow you to use ND filters to handle exposure issues but this kind of band pass filter is meant to be part of a "roll your own" set up to capture specific things. You could make an eclipse set up with it but it would need some extra filtering to get good looking shots. 

    Now if you all you want is to get a shot of the eclipse in totality then you don't need to do all this. When in totality, you can look directly at the eclipse safely and so can your camera so exposure is all you have to worry about but if you want to do a time lapse or film it when it isn't in totality then the only sane thing to do is get a filter to do the job safely for you and your camera.

  • Well I stand corrected. I believe everything you say. 

    On the other hand, I want to go grab my old SLR and see if I can break it by looking at the sun, lol....

  • Thank you @Aladdin4d for all that helpful info, I will work with that!

  • Probably too late already but just in case  - Smoking camera from shooting the sun without a filter

  • Damn! Puffer!!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator

    Who has two thumbs and utterly wasn't paying attention when his wife scheduled an indoor appointment at the exact time the eclipse is closest to totality in our region requiring driving almost an hour to get there, insuring we have zero viewing experience? 

    This guy! 

  • @Triem23 Who has two thumbs, live less than half a mile from the center line in Missouri but has to do a bleep bleep bleeping setup during the eclipse? 

    This guy!

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