I recently visited the Chernobyl exclusion zone and thought to myself, how does my digital camera react to ionizing radiation?
Pictures of the destroyed reactor #4 were all a bit faded and I suspected it might be because of the high levels of radiation in the area so I decided to find out and tested my camera.
I built a rig to expose the camera to different levels of radiation. Two radioisotopes were used as sources, Cobalt-60 which is a strong Gamma-emitter and Cesium-137 which emits Beta-particles. These yielded the highest activity levels on my counter of the samples.
In the measurements I used my trusty Russian dual-tube RADEX RD1706 Geiger Counter with a custom sticker in it.
Rig contained a lab stand holding the Geiger-counter, camera which had its sensor set the same height from the table and a laboratory elevator to rise and lower the isotope sample.
Gamma-emitter was covered with 8 mm aluminium sheet to block any Beta and Alfa-particles from reaching the sensors. For Cesium-137 paper envelope was used as an Alfa-shield. Lens was removed from the camera and replaced with thin plastic bodycap.
I took 11 measurements with both isotopes from different heights swapping the lab-elevator under the the geiger-counter and camera. Pictures were taken in RAW-format with 30 second exposures to maximize the amount of interference in the shots.
Radiation produces spots in the image that are caused by high energy particles hitting the CMOS-sensor. Unless the radiation is affecting the control and processing circuitry of the camera, anomalies seen on the images are not caused by ionising radiation.
- Ionizing radiation can be picked up by camera’s CMOS sensor
- High energy particles cause bright dots in digital images
- Remember to switch off camera’s manual mode if not using it
Difficulty ★★★☆☆ Time ★★☆☆☆ Price ☆☆☆☆☆