If you are planning on shooting the eclipse with your smart phone, here are a few tips about using the approved solar eclipse glasses to ensure your safety, the safety of your phone and better photos. Delayna Earley Staff video
If you are planning on shooting the eclipse with your smart phone, here are a few tips about using the approved solar eclipse glasses to ensure your safety, the safety of your phone and better photos. Delayna Earley Staff video

Local

Solar eclipse can blind unprotected eyes. What will it do to your cell phone camera?

August 10, 2017 10:51 AM

UPDATED August 21, 2017 11:09 AM

You surely know, after heaps of warnings, not to watch the Aug. 21 solar eclipse without heavily filtered glasses.

But what about those inevitable selfies with the sun? Advice for the most photographed event of the year isn’t so clear.

NASA itself debates whether smartphone photos of the eclipse can damage the phone’s camera.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

Some photographers argue that the tiny lens is too small to admit damaging light to the sensor, and that the cameras automatically set exposures for very short times. Others note that recent cameras come with bigger, faster lenses.

Watch the March 2016 total solar eclipse in 35 seconds

Members of Slooh watched and captured the total solar eclipse from Indonesia on March 8, 2016. Slooh is a community observatory dedicated to bringing astronomy from the stars to screens, according to representatives. It regularly live broadcasts meteor showers to solar eclipses to advances in space exploration. Members were there for the total solar eclipse and had a live broadcast on YouTube

Slooh

There’s also the danger of inadvertently hurting your eyes by simply pointing your phone toward the sun, the space agency says.

“The best thing to do is to cover the camera lens with a solar filter during the moments before (and after) totality when the sunlight is still blinding. This will eliminate sun glare blooming and give you a clear image of the solar disk,” NASA says. Eclipse glasses will do.

iPhone maker Apple begs to differ.

Most smartphone photos show a wide-angle view, of which the sun will be a very small part, Apple tells USA Today. Pointing an iPhone at the sun – even during the eclipse – won’t damage its camera sensor or lens, the company says.

Just make sure to protect your own eyes first with certified eclipse glasses.

Photographing the eclipse with a non-smartphone camera also requires more care to protect the user. Solar filters must be placed over the outer element of telephoto lenses, telescopes or binoculars.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

Smartphone photos of the eclipse

NASA and USA Today offer these tips:

▪ Practice photographing the full moon to get an idea of how the sun’s (tiny) image will appear.

▪ Learn to use the camera’s manual focus and exposure controls to improve results. Download an app such as Camera+ or NightCap Pro for greater control.

▪ Consider buying a zoom lens attachment, such as by makers Olloclip or Moment, and a small tripod. The camera’s built-in digital zoom will not yield sharp images.

▪ Instead of trying to shoot the sun, photograph or video the people around you as the light fades. Or steady the phone on a tripod and take time-lapse photos of the scene.