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Have you ever taken a magnifying glass on a sunny day and held it over a piece of paper? If not, you should, it’s tons of fun. It sets the paper ablaze. However, as fun as burning paper is, the problem is that your camera lenses are a lot like a magnifying glass, in the sense that they focus light onto a small point.
The sun outputs a LOT of energy, enough to light up half the planet’s sky at a time. And when you point your camcorder at the sun, you’re directing all of that onto a space smaller than an 8th of an inch. Chaos shall ensue.
Now, there are techniques to shoot the sun. When the sun is rising or setting, it’s being diffused by a lot more atmosphere, and should be safer to shoot. I also wouldn’t be too worried if you doing a fast pan of the sun during the day, as long as you weren’t lingering. Additionally, there are lens adapters that are designed specifically to make it safe to shoot the sun. But I would be really scared of pointing my camera directly at the sun. The best case scenario is that you’ll have exposure issues. But more likely than not, you’ll burn out a few pixels on your CCD chip. The camera as a whole will still be useful for the most part, except for the sun sized spot that’s permanently white or black from being melted.
And while the lens is important, I actually know of a guy who burnt out his viewfinder by leaving the back end of the camera facing the sun. The lens on the eyepiece acted like that magnifying lens, and the sun’s heat melted the LCD panel. Whoops!