When the Canon EOS 5D Mark II was released, a lot of people wondered what were the side effects of having such a big sensor recording video stream constantly. Photographers were used to live view but its use was marginal and there were not a lot of data about its effect.

The principal fear was around the heat generated by the sensor. As anyone in electronics will tell you, heat is rarely good for electronics.

From there, numerous theories emerged, stating that recording video was ‘bad’ for your camera and it would shorten its life expectancy.

The reality

Almost 5 years have passed since then and a lot of people have recorded thousands of hours on their HDSLR without issues.

The reason is simple: if the sensor or camera gets too hot, one of its internal sensor turns it off so it can cool down. This internal protection has caused a lot of frustration for the unprepared shooter but can be resolved by switching to a backup camera.

The real danger

While recording video seems to have no long time effect on the sensor, there is a special case to be aware of: the danger of exposing the sensor to strong light. By strong light we mean the sun, lasers (like those used in concerts, not spaceships) or any intense light source.

There are numerous cases of sensors burning pixels after being exposed to these conditions for both stills and video. With video the danger is even more present since the sensor is constantly exposed.

So you better play it safe and make sure you never point your lens directly at these.


Other than the case mentioned above, it seems like intensely using the video function of your HDSLR does not affect its long term usage.

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chief astronomer at planet5D LLC
Mitch "planetMitch" Aunger is the creator and mastermind behind planet5D.com — which covers every aspect of HDSLR cameras (and a whole lot of other cameras as well). A lover of photography since his early days, he graduated to selling stock photos to make a little bit of spare cash. It wasn’t much, but it allowed him to upgrade to better cameras as well as computers, and it wasn’t taking money away from feeding his family.
He loves the stories that the still image can tell. In the summer of 2008, he read a story written by Arnold Kim called “I Quit My Job” — Arn is the owner of macrumors.com. He started macrumors in 2000 as a hobby, and by 2008 he was making more money with the site than he was on his day job, so he quit. The surprise to the story is that he was a doctor making more than six figures! Right then and there, planetMitch dreamed about doing the same thing.
September 2008 rolled around, and Canon announced this new version of the incredible 5D — the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. It was the first Canon DSLR to shoot full HD video and the earth moved! (It really was a huge deal in the photography world.) planetMitch knew if there was ever a chance to ride a wave of something he was really passionate about, this was it — and the blog at planet5D.com was born. It is now one of the most popular HDSLR blogs on the planet, and he is making a full-time living from blogging. He couldn’t be happier!
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