Causes of flickering LED lights on camera
LED lights are lighting products that produce luminance through a series of processes that involves an electrical current and a microchip. They operate on the AC current as opposed to DC. There is a wide generalization that they are the best when talking about light bulbs, overtaking the incandescent, halogen, and compact fluorescent lights.
LED lights flicker 100 times per second for a lightbulb on a 50hz electric grid, while it also flickers 120 times for a light bulb on a 60hz electric grid. So factoring this, the flickering that is causing the worry is no cause for it, as it is perfectly normal.
A few of the reasons why LED lights flicker on camera are;
- Alternating current
The main technical term that will help with this is hertz or cycles per second. First, the lightbulb gets bright as the electrons flow into it from the positive end. Then, as it starts heading towards the negative charge, the lightbulb grows dimmer till there’s nothing left, and this process is repeated from the negative to the positive end before finishing its cycle.
A LED light (1) on an alternating current in one cycle turns on and off twice. This shows that the LED light goes on and off twice the number of hertz the lightbulb is on in a second. And as it was mentioned earlier, just too fast for the human eye to catch.
- Shutter speed and FPS
This is the amount of time the media is exposed to light. The standard shutter speed for a video is either 1/30 of a second or 1/60 of a second, depending on the type of camera being used; this refers to 30 or 60 frames being shot in a second.
The LED light is able to complete its cycle before the shutter comes down, but in a camera where the shutter speed is faster than the LED light being captured, for example, 1/125 (125 frames per second), the electrons are unable to finish the journey and are literally caught in the act of going off and coming back on which would have ordinarily gone unnoticed as far as seeing is concerned.
Why do LED lights flicker even though some precautions like the enablement of drivers have already been taken? This is simply because the camera is too close to the light.
Even though the continuous interchanging switch of the alternating current is barely noticeable in its DC state, pulses still manage to slip through and show up on the screen when the camera is too close to the source of light.
How to minimize or reduce LED lights flicker.
We’ve answered the question, “Why do LED lights flicker on camera?” Up next is to talk about how to reduce or eliminate LED lights flicker.
These are some fine ways;
- Use DC current
What initially causes the LED lights to flicker is the alternating current that feeds it power.
If a constant direct source can be gotten for the lightbulb, the LED light never has to go through the on and off cycle and thereby removes the issue of flicker once and for all.
These are tools that help convert alternating current to direct current(2). The slight issue with this solution is that the drivers might not be strong enough, or if the frames per second being taken by the camera are really huge, the flicker will still manage to slip through.
- Reduced frame per second
A high FPS speed makes your camera able to record more details, and this, in turn, causes the problem of flickering LED lights to stand out even more than it already had. The higher the number of captured frames per second, the higher the chances of capturing LED lights that are flickering alongside other details.
- Low shutter speed
This is the most effective of all the ways to get rid of LED light flicker. If the shutter speed is put at the appropriate level, video making will happen smoothly without a hitch.
Knowing the frequency of the power supply and adjusting the shutter speed accurately plays an important role. The trick is to set the shutter speed to a multiple of the frequency of the current the work is being done on.
- Reduction in LED light intensity
One other way of minimizing the strobe effect of flickering LED lights is to adjust the brightness of the light to make it calmer and more camera-friendly. Assuredly, the frame might get darker, but that is nothing that cannot be fixed with a few tweaks and the dial of a few buttons on your camera.
A surefire way to get a video without any LED lights flickering is to go natural. The sun does not flicker, nor does the moon; the source of light and energy is constant. So the question, why do LED lights flicker is only applicable to artificial lights, there is absolutely no need for a reduction in shutter speed or FPS speed, and all locations are pretty much available with this option.
- Move away
This is the most basic of the solutions as it does not require any tech-savviness. Why do LED lights flicker on camera? This is because the camera is able to capture it. If there were to be a little bit of distance between the camera and the offensive source of light, the problem would remedy itself. This might, in turn, make for a darker picture, as there might not be enough light for the camera to go by.
Distance is a solution that can be accessed at any time needed, and it does not require any tools or knowledge. Instead of a video being ruined by a flickering LED light, total avoidance of said light might just be the way out.
It is normal for a LED light to flicker on camera because the camera is able to capture the LED light going on and off. The only cause for concern is when this flickering is being noticed by people with regular eyes.
You can stop your LED light from flickering while on camera by matching the shutter speed and the frames per second speed of the camera with the frequency of the hertz on which the lightbulb is.
The whole article boils down to just two things after all, why do LED lights flicker on camera, and what can be done to stop it.
If the camera is using a faster shutter speed while the light and shutter are not in sync, there’ll be flicker, and the other way round as well, shutter speed and light frequency matching each other translate to no flicker.
What do you think of the article, helpful?
- Tom H., Chris P. & Wesley F. (2021, February 11). How Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) Work. Retrieved from https://electronics.howstuffworks.com/led.htm
- Taylor Scully. (2020, June 10). Understanding LED drivers and how to choose the right one. Retrieved from https://www.ledsupply.com/blog/understanding-led-drivers/