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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