LED lights offer a plethora of amazing benefits that make them one of the best solutions when it comes to lighting fixtures. However, they are not without any flaws. One of them is that they flicker on camera making it almost impossible to click a good photograph or capture on in a video.
LED lights flicker on camera because of what is called the ‘strobe effect’ where the frames recorded by the camera pick up the actual flickering that takes place in LED lights. While it is invisible to the naked eye, the flicker is easily captured by any device with a camera.
To understand why it happens and how to minimize it, we will need to go in-depth into how an LED light works.
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Why do LED lights Flicker on Camera?
One aspect about LEDs that a lot don’t understand is that they illuminate with a flickering effect. In real-time, the LEDs are constantly turning ON and OFF when turned ON. However, our eyes cannot see the flickering as it is much faster than what our eyes are used to.
Why do they flicker? LED lights flicker on camera because they require an alternating current to power up and in such a current, the electrons move in cycles every second called Hertz. In a single cycle, the light turns on and off twice due to the electrons moving in and out.
These cycles are different in the United States and the rest of the world. In the U.S, electricity runs on 60 Hertz or 120 cycles per second. In other parts of the world, it runs on 50 Hertz or 100 cycles per second.
In both cases, our eyes are unable to see the light turning on and off so quickly so when we look at an LED light, we see light getting emitted consistently. When you record the light on the camera, however, you will see a flickering effect.
This is because cameras come with quick shutter speeds that open and close faster than the speed of the electrons moving in and out of the circuit. So any camera that has a higher frame rate or FPS than the light being turned on and off in LEDs will capture the flickering perfectly.
Misconceptions about the Flickering Effect and LED Lights
Some people see the flickering effect in videos and assume that their camera is no longer functioning properly. There have been many cases when people have actually either returned their camera or sold it for significantly cheaper thinking that it was malfunctioning.
On the other hand, some people see the LED light flickering in the camera and assume that there is something wrong with the light itself. Both the above cases are wrong as it is only natural for your camera to pick up the light flickering on LEDs.
If you see your light flickering with your own eyes, only then is there an issue with it. In some cases, your eyes won’t be able to see it flicker but the electrons will be moving in and out of the circuit at a slower pace than what it is supposed to be moving at.
In such a scenario, you will find yourself getting headaches and nausea with prolonged exposure. This is again another sign that your LED light needs to be replaced.
How to Stop the Flickering Effect of LED Lights from Being Captured on Camera?
Fortunately, there are a few ways in which you can remove or greatly minimize the flickering effect of LED Lights caught on your camera. Here are some of them:
- Change the frames per second or FPS to a lower value and see if the flickering effect stops appearing – This might take a few trials. You can change the shutter speed based on whether it is 60 Hz or 50 Hz. If it’s 60 Hz, go for one that is divisible by 60 like 1/60 or 1/120 and 30 FPS. If it’s 50 Hz, go for 1/50 or 1/100 and 2 FPS.
- Try putting some distance between you and the light – As the distance changes, adjust the aperture accordingly. This will also take a few trials but you should see a significant improvement.
- Adjust the LED’s Brightness – Another way to minimize the flickering effect is to increase or decrease the brightness of the LED light.
- Use Reflectors and Diffusers – One of the best ways to reduce the strobe effect is to use reflectors and diffusers with plenty of natural light. Sunlight is the best source of lighting you can ever get. This only makes sense if you stream or create video content of course.
- Use battery-powered LED lights – They don’t create any flickering effect.
It is important to note that this issue exists only with LEDs powered by an alternating current or AC supply. If the light uses a driver that changes it to DC, then you won’t have this issue. Some of the drivers also increase the supply from 50 or 60 Hz to 120 Hz, making it invisible when captured through a camera.
If you are a steamer and use an LED light in the background, then a great solution would be to use a flicker-free LED light. These lights are specifically designed for slow-motion capture and constantly stays illuminated without getting turned on and off too fast. These will be more expensive of course, but they are also more efficient and safer to use.
If you’re interested in flicker-free LED light bulbs, I highly recommend you get these on Amazon. They are low cost and super affordable but still very high quality.
Unless you can see the LED light flickering in real-time with your eyes, there is no need to worry as it is only natural for cameras to pick up the light flickering.
By following some of the tips written above, you should be able to either greatly minimize or outright remove flickering from being captured by your camera.
If you already shot a video and want to get rid of the strobe effect, then you can make use of post-production software programs and have the brightness of each frame adjusted to a consistent value.
For future use, you can save the profile and the settings so that you can easily correct it next time you edit the video. Good luck!