Solar Filters for Cameras
The Baader Safety Film comes in 8×10 sheets. Handle it with care, because scratches, holes, or tears in the Safety Film have the potential to render it unsafe to use. The material is flexible and easy to cut, making it ideal for building a solar filter for your camera lens. The Baader Planetarium, creators of the AstroSolar Safety Film, have a webpage explaining how to construct (a rather fancy) filter for your camera, telescope, or spotting scope. While the page is aimed at telescope users, simply replace the word ‘telescope’ with ‘camera lens’ when following the instructions.
Most solar eclipse chasers who use the AstroSolar Safety Film rarely bother with anything so fancy, and you don’t need to, either. Instead, cut a piece of AstroSolar Film that is significantly larger than the diameter of your camera lens. Carefully stretch it over the lens, making sure not to tear it. Hold the Film in place with two elastic bands. Yes, the Film will wrinkle, but that’s not a problem.
What do the ‘pros’ use to shoot a partial solar eclipse? Many use specialty filters that thread directly onto the front of their camera lens. Thousand Oaks Optical is one solar-filter vendor. Thousand Oaks uses their own safe SolarLite polymer filter material, which is also found in their filters for telescopes.
Final Safety Thoughts
Regardless of what camera/lens combination you use to image the partial solar eclipse, remember that the filter always attaches to the front, or Sun-pointing side, of your lens. Never point an unfiltered camera at the Sun with its live view or electronic viewfinder activated. That’s a good way to potentially damage the camera’s sensors and electronics. If your camera has an old-fashioned optical viewfinder (maybe it’s a point-and-shoot), and it doesn’t have through-the-lens viewing, make sure you cover the viewfinder with the AstroSolar Safety Film. If you’re using a smartphone, tape a piece of AstroSolar Film over the front of its camera lens before pointing it sunward.
Well before solar eclipse day, test your camera and filter combination. Ensure the filter will stay on the front of the lens—you don’t want it popping off while it’s pointed at the Sun. Try different exposures to see which one is best. If you’re using a smartphone, see if the image size is large enough to make photography worthwhile. But above all, when looking at and/or photographing the Sun, eclipsed or not, think safety first. Your eyes are irreplaceable.