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Nikon D5100 DSLR Camera – LCD screen fades to black in portrait mode

I ran into a weird problem with a Nikon D5100 DSLR the other day. Everything worked fine for the most part, but changing the orientation from landscape to portrait (just turning the camera on its side) made the screen fade to black. Not always completely black, just too dark to read, similar to what I’ve seen from aging laptop screens whose backlights are giving out.

I thought it might be a problem with the camera’s gyroscope since it happened consistently and only when the camera was anything other than perfectly flat. Confusing things further was the fact that I had just changed lenses and environmental conditions prohibited me from doing it again, so I thought the CPU or lens might be to blame.

By now the number of factors I was willing to point the finger at was too nebulous to figure out. Could it be the LCD burning out? Did I somehow fry the sensor by using too wide an aperture in bright conditions?

The answer turned out to be something much simpler. I took off my sunglasses.

It turns out the new pair of sunglasses I was using was polarized, which I was unused to. Not being a physicist, I’m not going to pretend to understand the mechanics behind why this is so but a quick Google search confirms that polarized glasses do interfere with visibility of DSLR LCD screens.

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