I am making a stop motion film and am concerned about flicker. I have a Canon 1000D Ef-s- 55 kit and was hoping not to have to buy a Nikon manual lens and adapter. I am looking at buying either these or these lights and using the granite bay deflicker software. I also mean to have a practical LED light on set and have read that having mixed light sources makes it near impossible to eliminate flicker. If that is so, are there any good (and cheap) LED lights out there? I live in the UK if that makes a difference.



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Don Carlson said:

Strider, realistic lighting is more your thing, what do you think?

Lol well, bright sunny days are something you'll never find in my work! I've thought a lot more about night-dark balance than daylight balance.  

But if you're asking abot why they call it daylight balanced or why it's important to use daylight balanced bulbs, without having really delved into it or anything, my initial reaction is that you want to start with a good strong white light. Then it's easier to get whatever you want by gellin' like a felon. If you start with orangey or purplish or greenish lights then it's a lot harder to make them do what you want, and you have to dim them down quite a bit to turn that light toward its complement. White being the balanced addition of all colors, is where you want to start from. 

I suppose you could play with the white balance on your camera or in post production to get a more yellow-y image for a sunny day and a blue tint for a cloudy day.

You could, though I'd think it would be better to properly white-balance your camera and use gels on individual lights - that way you can have a nice strong hard spotlight for the sun and a big soft diffused source for blue skylight - just like you find in the sky. Then if you decide to manipulate in post you can play with white balance or digital filters there.

Good thoughts! I never thought about the summation of all colors equaling white. Usually, I'm mixing pigments and it's just the opposite.

Makes sense to use an orange/yellow spotlight (key) for the sun because it is direct light and a blue bounce light (fill) to simulate the sky because it is indirect light.

Yeah, you probably know, but with light it works the opposite way as with pigments - all colors added = white. 

And for a daylight shot you want the blue sky light to fill in shadow areas where the sunlight doesn't fall. You can see that effect especially well in snow scenes where the white snow reflects the color really well:

Essentially the sun is a very bright, very hard spotlight, and the sky is a gigantic blue softbox that covers - well - the entire sky! For an overcast or heavily misty day you'd eliminate the spotlight and just use soft grey-blue diffused light from all over above if possible.

And while we often think of sunlight as yellow, it generally looks white, unless it's near early morning or late afternoon. 

Wow, have we gone way off topic!! If I was still a moderator, I'd split this off and make a new thread of it so it doesn't kill any chance of anyone posting relevant information on the original subject. 

So yeah - anyway.. about those LED lighting units..  

Ahhh, sorry about that. Good post, by the way! The mountain analogy very clearly illustrates the "filled in" shadow principle of bounced daylight.

I've just finished up on shooting a stop-mo project and I can also suggest that you look at your lens setup. I was running tests on a 550D with newer made-for-digital Canon lenses and found that I was getting a lot of flicker. I replaced them with some old lenses from a 35mm camera and the problem disappeared (having ruled out power supply, lights, camera settings and cables).

It's kind of strange that my Rebel has never really flickered. Can't imagine why that would be, but the problem so many people seem to be having just doesn't exist for me, save for a couple of instances which I think were more user error than anything else.

But all the same, I am looking forward to the bridge cameras. Those don't have mechanical shutters in them. Just waiting for a good enough paying job to get one and also a live video feed via USB. At the moment, I'm only seeing analog video outs on those things.

I bought a Canon 550D to use in conjunction with my mates Dragonframe software and found that I had a great amount of flicker when using the standard kit lens that came with the camera. After buying a lens adapter which is similar to the Novaflex (I think that's what their called?) and a few cheap manual M42 fit lenses from ebay It worked like a charm with no flicker. The auto lenses aperture apparently is not precise enough when taking frames, and the result is flicker.  There is also some other little workaround which i think is on the Dragon frame site, i believe It has something to do mounting the kit lens while connected to dragon frame and then unscrewing the lens and mounting your manual lens with adapter. I did this a while ago and off the top of my head i think it resolves the issue of an overly dark live display within Dragonframe. Having a good lighting solution is obviously a bonus but I know nothing on this subject as lighting is my weak spot!

Yeah, that's a puzzler for me - I read on the Dragonframe website that it's supposed to be able to control a kit lens well enough that it won't flicker - and yet as I said on another thread somewhere around here, the Caliris don't seem to make any definitive statements on this and when pressed they always seem to say that to ensure no flicker you need manual lenses with adapters. 

So maybe a kit lens with slow iris blades just can't snap to the right aperture fast enough, and is at a slightly different point each frame, resulting in flicker? The way a camera with auto-exposure lens works is that it's always wide open until the moment you snap the shot, then in a fraction of a second it tries to make the iris stop down to the selected f stop. For regular photography of course this is good enough - you would never notice slightly different exposures in a series of still pictures. But string them together into a movie and it becomes very noticeable as flicker. 

Maybe I should stop recommending people try a kit lens first? I wasn't going to make that recommendation until I saw some evidence that it actually works, but then when Don said he just uses a kit lens I figured there's the evidence - I've never spotted a hint of flicker in his films.

I never got any flicker at all with my FZ50 (bridge camera) and I can swear I wasn't getting any flicker at first with my G1 (micro 4/3s camera) using fully automatic lenses, but suddenly I was getting really bad flicker and had to buy manual legacy lenses in order to tame it. When it first started flickering I was sure I had just messed up some menu setting or bumped a switch or something, but went through it all again and again and was unable to find any way to fix it.  I had several different automatic lenses for it - maybe some of them flicker and some don't? Who knows - all I can say for certain is that with the automatic lenses it was a crap shoot, but with manual lenses the exposure is rock steady. 

The whole part about the aperture is exactly what i was trying to say but not being very good with the technical side of photography couldn't really explain it! Strider is most definitely right and the flicker occurs due to the aperture discrepancies, well that is what i have been told anyway. You may be lucky and get some good results with an auto kit lens, I could not get rid of the flicker and had to go down the manual route and I can confirm that this clears up the problem. I know its a pain in the backside if you have just bought an expensive camera to have to buy more lenses and an adapter, but as I mentioned previously I picked up some lenses for about £20 on Ebay and the adapter was £5.00. Well done Strider for explaining this a hell of a lot better than I did!

Yeah, at least there's one good thing - used manual lenses are a lot less expensive than brand new fully automatic lenses! 

I shoot almost everything at f/5.6 and 1/8 sec. When I try a longer exposure, for some reason, that seems to invite flicker. Maybe every lens is just different and no two builds are exactly the same. On my kit lens, though, I'm not sure if you would call it auto. It's set manually, and it doesn't deviate in Dragon's settings like a slide whistle. . 

This is what I would look at, before anything else is considered, however, and something that I have wondered about: The F-setting on the lens itself...The two maximums (one for all the way open, one for all the way closed).

As the shutter is a physical object, and different lenses are going to have different maximums, it could be possible that mine is simply more closed at its most open position and less open at its most closed position, giving it less distance to travel to get the exposure with each shutter click. Just a thought, and I might be going down the rabbit trail with this, but I keep thinking it has to have something to do with those F-settings painted on the lens. My maximums are  f/3.5 and f/5.6. 

Now consider the fact that I have been getting the best results at f/5.6... Again, just a thought- but itstuck out to me, and I had to mention it.

Whoops, ran out of time to edit... What I wanted to add to this was that it might be possible to look at the maximum closed position for your lens and use it to determine what shutter speed you need to avoid flicker. The sweet spot for mine is definitely f/5.6 (with the lens only slightly zoomed toward telephoto position). The lens I'm using is an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS.

EDIT: Hey, kind of neat! The EOS-550D actually has the same kit lens... Try these settings in Dragon Frame with your camera set to M (for manual) and let me know if your flicker goes away:

f/5.6, ISO 100, 1/8 sec.

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