REAL OR HOAX? Will taking photos of the solar eclipse damage your smartphone camera?

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Many people on social media are debating the best way to safely capture today’s solar eclipse on camera.

Most of the beauty shots of the solar eclipse will be taken by professional cameras or shot through a telescope. But, the most common photos will be taken by the millions of smartphones everyday people are using.

NASA says taking a photo of the eclipse using your smartphone probably won’t damage it, but it could, especially if you have a newer device.

Can you view the eclipse using selfie mode?

NASA says if you’re using older iPhone or Android smartphone camera lens, you should not need any added camera filter. Experts say the lenses on your smartphones are generally very small and do not admit enough light on autofocus. While your picture will likely come out overexposed and washed out, your phone camera should not be harmed.

However, NASA points out that some newer smartphones have larger and faster lenses (f/1.7 to f/2.0). Those could be damaged if pointed at the sun for a period of time, both during the eclipse and any other time.

In either case, you need to be really careful while taking these photos. It is very likely that you may glimpse the full-on solar disk and this can damage your eyes after prolonged viewing.

NASA says to avoid this harmful contact, you should wear approved solar eclipse viewing glasses.

You can find a list of all the approved glasses for safe viewing of the solar eclipse here.

Here are some additional photography tips from NASA:

  • Set up your smartphone on a tripod or a wrap-around mounting so you can fix the angle of the shot before the eclipse starts. The sun disk will be small enough that you will want to avoid the inevitable shaking that occurs when holding the camera.
  • Don’t forget to take some photos of the surroundings, what people are doing and such, in addition to shots of the eclipse itself. That will require low light level “Twilight” photography on your smartphone, and you may need to download a specific camera app that lets you manually adjust exposure speed and other settings.
  • You might also illuminate the foreground with a flashlight or a low-wattage lamp so that it is discernable under twilight conditions. Practice taking photos several days before just after sunset during twilight.
  • Using optical filters to photograph the eclipse when you are not on the path of totality, which will be nowhere near Pennsylvania, is inherently risky because you are looking at the blindingly bright solar surface.
  • Practice photographing the full moon to get an idea of how large the sun-in-eclipse will appear with your smartphone’s lens, or with a telephoto lens attachment, or with your digital camera.
  • Take a time-lapse photo series of the scenery as the light dims with the smartphone or camera secured on a tripod or other mounting so that you can watch the eclipse while your camera photographs the scenery. You might even want to shoot some video in the minutes before, during and after to record people’s reactions.

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