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Old Jan 12, 2010, 3:00 PM   #1
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Default Does bulb very long exposures (4hs to 6hs) wears out Mark III CCD?

I need to take 4 to 6hs exposures every-night for the next 3 months.

Some blogs say I should not do it with digital cameras or it could damage the CCD.

I just bought the TC-80N3 time controller to do this job and it's written there that I can do long exposures up to 99 hours.

Why would Canon built a time controller with such a long exposure if we can't use it?

So, the question is: can I do my 4 to 6hs long exposure job every-night or I'll have to buy a new CCD at the end of it?

I would be very grateful if anyone could help me over here...

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Old Jan 12, 2010, 8:42 PM   #2
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As with so many questions, the answer depends on other factors. If you are taking pictures of star trails which are constantly moving, then long exposures are not a problem. If there is a fixed, high intensity light source in the frame, then it could cause a problem.

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Old Jan 12, 2010, 10:19 PM   #3
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But then if your exposure needs to be 4 to 6 hours, then obviously your light source is almost non existant. I read on one site to use CMOS if you plan on long exposures. CCD has a banding problem. Also a cooling problem. But its worth your while to google for more reliable info.

Last edited by Bynx; Jan 12, 2010 at 10:40 PM.
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Old Jan 15, 2010, 3:10 PM   #4
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Ok, I have a lot of news, and, before I start, to answer VTphotog, my idea is to take pictures of completely dark sleeping-rooms during the night.

I tried to do long exposures with Mark IIIDs as listed:

First Day - 1h30 minutes exposure - Grainy and Reddish (the red light that lights during the exposure turned all my picture red.

Second Day - 3hs Exposure - Err 90

Third Day - 3hs Exposure - Err 90 ( then I updated the firmware to identify what was the real error)

Fourth Day - 1h30 Exposure - Err 80 (indicates that malfunctions related to electric control or the images has occurred)

I began to send emails to Canon asking about Mark III long exposures, my first question was very similar to the first day I posted here, their first answer was:

"Doing long exposure of that amount of time does cause the CMOS sensor in
a digital camera to heat up. There are a number of factors that could
escalate this and could damage the camera.

1. Ambient temperature, if it is hot this could cause the sensor to heat
up faster, in cooler or cold conditions it would help as it would cool
the camera down.
2. The amount of light coming into the camera. If you are taking
pictures of stars then it should be ok, again depending on the

There are other factors that may arise for particular applications. If
you keep the camera cool it should be ok, the time is designed to give
you exposure times greater then that length and it is part of the normal
operation of the camera. The only thing I can suggest it to keep and eye
on the camera during this time to make sure it is not heating up if it
is I would stop exposing at that time and let the camera cool down."

My Second question was:

When you say "keep an eye on the camera during this time to make sure it is not heating up" what do you mean? What signs should the camera give me?

I tried to use it before writing you for the last 3 days, working in
absolutely dark bedrooms. The first day I tried an 1 1/2 hour exposure
and it worked but the second and third day I got "Err 99" message
trying to do 3hs exposure. Then I began researching and ended up
sending you an email.

If I leave a fan pointed to the camera would help? Any other idea?
And, if by any chance you tell me it's too risk for the Mark III being
used on this condition, which Canon print film bodies can I attach the
TC-80N3, I mean, the cheapest one since I'll have to buy it just for
this job.

The Second Answer from Canon:

"The camera will get hot to the touch if it begins to heat up. I have
done some research on my end and the camera will shut off if it gets to
hot to prevent any damage to the camera. Also the images maybe grainy,
as the sensor heats up it produces more grain then normal. As for the
ERR 99 that usually comes up if it is having a communication problem
with one of the components like the lens or the memory card. I would try
a new memory card and another lens to see if that is the cause. More
then likely if it is after the image has been exposed it is the memory
card. The fan will help keep the camera cooler and my allow it to expose
for the time you want it too. If you would like to use a film camera
instead you would have to get another trigger the TC-80N3, it only works
with digital SLRs. Though I am not saying you will have any problems
other then the camera shutting down due to heat, which may affect the
effect you are going for. As for film cameras if you would like to go
that route you may want to look on bhphotovideo.com, keh.com, or
adorama.com to see what options they may have. I would recommend testing
the camera for the length of time you are shooting for in a simulated
setting before making any decision on your next step."

My Third Email:

"I'm not being able to see the final pictures I'm taking because in the end of my exposures I am getting an Err 80 (I updated the firmware yesterday to see what really Err 99 meant).

It says:

80- Malfunctions related to the electric control or images have been

What could that be? Should I change lens and card as you said before?

Another question: thinking about a solution in which the CCD won't get
warm and the image grainy I thought about doing with the TC-80N3 a
series of shots with an interval so that the CCD could get cooler. For
example, 180 one minute shots with 10 seconds rest between them that
would be later merged as one single image in Photoshop.

So, the question is: does Canon have any chart related to the ambient
temperature studying how long does it takes to the CCD begins to get
hot/grainy and long should be an interval for it to rest and get
cooler? If not, do you know where could I find any similar study /

Canon Third Answer:

"How long was the exposure when you got the Error 80? Do you get the
Error message when using the camera for normal exposures?

Canon has not tested the camera in that capacity so we do not have
statistics for what you are asking.

My Last reply, trying to get any kind of help or statistics from the makers:

"Is there any hint you could give me on how long he CCD takes to get
cooler? Any other Canon blog or site that I could start from?"

Canon's Last Reply:

"Since the camera is not tested completely for a 4-6 hour exposure, we
are unable to speculate as to how long it takes the CMOS image sensor to
cool down after being heated up for that long. "Err 80" indicates that
malfunctions related to electric control or the images has occurred. If
possible, we do not recommend shooting exposures that are hours long
because prolonged activity of the image sensor is not always good for
the image sensor."

After that I go back to my first question:

Why does Canon make a timer controller capable of 100 hours of exposure if its best and most expensive camera is not able to use not even 1% of its capacity?

The only reason that I bought the TC-80N3 last week was for doing very
long exposures, I mean, what it's meant for since it can expose up to

With which camera should I use my recently bought TC-80N3 then?! It does not work with any of the Canon negative cameras, as you read in one of Canon's above answers.

I really think Canon should advise its customers that, although the
controller makes such long exposures, none of its digital cameras can
be used with it on its full capacity. Otherwise it would be some kind
of false advertising.

If I could, I would give it back today and use the money to buy a negative camera, what seen to be the only solution for my task...
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