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Old Feb 23, 2004, 9:04 AM   #1
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Default taking digital pictures of a welding arc

I am the owner of a Cannon PowerShot S50. I was recently doccumenting a MIG welding process with my digital camera from ~10-15 feet away. I had on a welding helmet to protect my eyes from the welding flash, but my digital camera did not. My question is: will welding flash dammage the image sennsor, light meter, optics, or any other part of the camera? If so, what can I do to protect my camera, short of putting it behind a helmet because you can't see much that way. Please reply to [email protected]. Thanks for your help.

-John
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Old Feb 23, 2004, 9:29 AM   #2
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We usually reply on the board. It is an advantage to you as someone might know a lot more than I do and correct an incorrect response. It helps for others to see the replies – we learn a lot from each other and replying to e-mail circumvents that. You can remove your duplicate post by using "Edit".

I wouldn’t personally expose the sensors to light I needed such a strong neutral density filter for my eyes. You might try just holding some fairly dark mirrored UV rated sunglasses over the lens. From 10 feet away that would probably protect it well enough. It meters through the lens and will probably do OK. If you want some of the item being welded in the image you might want to pre-meter with the flame near the edge or a corner as the meter is center weighted. You would burn out the flame but be able to see some of the work.
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Old Feb 23, 2004, 11:35 AM   #3
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FWIW, the CCD sensors in camcorders, which are if anything more sensitive than those in digicams, seem to survive pointing directly at the sun without any harm. I'd read somewhere that this was the case. I had two camcorders that each lasted 6 yrs and 54 x 90 minute tapes. I often had the sun in the frame (artistic contre-jour shots, you understand), and neither showed any burnt bits. My new used camcorder can see in near darkness, so maybe I'll be more careful with that one.
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Old Feb 23, 2004, 4:20 PM   #4
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Both my husband and I have taken quite a number of photos of welds in progress without any damage at all to our cameras...or our eyes. Naturally, we're far enough away that we don't burn our toes. The only problems we've had is with metering, but by bracketing, we've gotten some pretty good pictures.
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Old Feb 23, 2004, 6:01 PM   #5
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I've got a digicam and a TIG welder but I'd keep the camera at a safe distance and use zoom - mainly because all electric arc welding processes generate nasty hostile electromagnetic interference (EMC) in large amounts, the closer you are to the arc or welding cables. TIG is particularly dodgy because of its HF start for steel welding, or continous HF arc for aluminium welding.

As for the light, welding glass tends to be tinted green, so I wouldn't use that. To do the job properly I'd use a dark Neutral Density (ND) filter. This also allows you to get more spectacular pics, by using slower shutter speeds.

There's a lot of invisible U.V coming off the arc as well, some cameras might expose for this - you just have to experiment with exposure. VOX
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Old Feb 23, 2004, 8:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
This also allows you to get more spectacular pics, by using slower shutter speeds.
Doesn't this blur all those wonderful sparks? Or does blurring them end up creating an aura around the welder? Come to think of it, that could be pretty darned spectacular.

What do you do with the TIG? Work? Hobby? Both?
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 12:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by voxmagna
There's a lot of invisible U.V coming off the arc as well, some cameras might expose for this - you just have to experiment with exposure. VOX
...not to mention lots & lots of IR, to which digicams are also sensitive.

When looking at the sun, it's the IR that'll cook your eyes. A welding arc is a very hot place analogous to a mini-sun, so all the information we looked at in 1999 for the total solar eclipse is relevant to photography of high temperature sources like arcs. They'll radiate with a peak intensity according to the temperature, but this doesn't mean there isn't a lot of relevant radiation at other wavelengths.
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 4:15 AM   #8
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............Doesn't this blur all those wonderful sparks? Or does blurring them end up creating an aura around the welder? Come to think of it, that could be pretty darned spectacular...........

Yes, I was thinking of the 'creative' rather than factual effect. I discovered this on my first attempt at shooting fireworks at night. An ordinary sparkler can be made to look like a roman candle in full flow! I've seen some arc weld shots on the front covers of magazines, where hot metal traces and spatter coming off the work can look spectacular at slower shutter speeds - but I'd still be at a camera safe distance with some zoom I think. Regards VOX
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 10:13 AM   #9
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Some good comments and suggestions to a classic "drive-by" question. The original poster even stated that (s)he had no intention of ever visiting this site again by asking that responses be sent via email. Though not quite as bad as some that basically say, "Please do my homework for me."
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Old Feb 24, 2004, 10:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
a classic "drive-by" question
That little clue flew right past me until you pointed it out. No matter. Having a husband who welds, I ended up collecting some information I can use.
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