Lasers used in a light show have damaged a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (reviews) CMOS sensor and I sure didn't know it was possible, but I thought I'd get a warning out since it appears to have damaged this guy's sensor. I would suspect that all CMOS sensors are probably susceptible – including Nikon, Sony, Panasonic etc., but maybe because we're using larger lenses on the HDSLR cameras would tend to focus more of the laser's beam on the sensor (I'm no scientist so I'm just guessing here, but it makes some sense). While it appears to be mostly safe and not common to get damage (you'll see in the video that several lasers hit the camera but only one caused the damage), we thought you should know.
A laser light burnt my sensor. Shot at Madrid'd Gay Pride: www.vimeo.com/13432785
We thought we'd check up on this a bit and found this page on the International Display Laser Association's site which says:
“Lasers emit concentrated beams of light, which can heat up sensitive surfaces (like the eye's retina) and cause damage. Camera sensors are susceptible to damage, similar to the human eye.
For large scale shows, such as on a televised concert, laser show producers work with clients to avoid TV camera locations and video projectors (ILDA Members, see this page for details). However, it is not possible for laser show producers to be responsible for all cameras and camcorders which might be at a show.
Therefore, if you attend a show as an audience member, you should take reasonable precautions not to let a laser beam directly enter your camera lens.”
So, there you go… you can read more on their site, but I think the idea is there… be careful out there!
UPDATE: Another sample:
from the comments, here's another sample
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(Photo credit: snap from the video)