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Russell H.
Russell H., Technician
Category: Digital Cameras
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Experience:  Working with digital cameras & questions for nearly 8 years.
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Flicker problems animating with 600D

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Hi, I've got a problem that just doesn't seem to go away. I bought a 600D 18 months ago specifically to do animation. I am using Dragonframe software which controls the camera during a shoot with lots of exposures. I am also using manual Olympus lenses with an adapter, so I don't get flicker from the aperture closing down to a slightly different size before each shot. The first sequence I shot was lovely and steady, with no noticeable flicker. But after that I have been getting flicker on all the image sequences. I process the Camera Raw images in Photoshop, and have to adjust the exposure manually for each frame (sometimes around +/- 0.25) The histograms show some noticeable differences, even though the exposure and ISO are supposed to be locked. I thought this was a camera problem, so it has been back to Canon for inspection, but nothing has been found. I am wondering whether I am simply asking too much of a cheap camera to expect it to expose frames the same each time. In the software the histogram moves around constantly, even when nothing is changing in the subject matter. I am generally shooting at 1 sec exposures, using various light sources, so the long exposure should even out any possible fluctuations in power or light. But still the problem persists. Any ideas? Or should I bite the bullet and go and buy a 7D or 5D Mk11?


I should add that the flicker issue was very noticeable when I was using 1/40th exposures, but is still noticeable, perhaps a bit less extreme, when I use 1 sec exposures.


Is there anything in the camera controls that I am missing? I have been through the menus a dozen times at least!

Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Digital Cameras
Expert:  Russell H. replied 3 years ago.
Hi, thank you for contacting JustAnswer.com. My name is Russell. I will do my best to provide the right answer to your question.

Check the software with which you are controlling the camera. It might be 'wavering' the exposures relative to each other, after the first sequence that worked, owing to some auto-adjustment factor that you enabled by accident, by trying to tweak the simplicity of that first well-recorded sequence into something more elaborate.

Or, try going back to the original settings with which you did the first sequence.

Let me know what you think of the above.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Russell. Thanks for having a go at this. It is a really tricky problem.


 


The software has a locking button, where you can lock the shutter speed and ISO. It controls the camera operations. Even when I activate this, the image still seems to waver around - I can see the histogram moving up and down and from side to side, indicating varying exposure.


 


No one so far has been able to answer the question of whether it is to be expected that the histogram should move around - even when all other factors are stable, i.e. static subject, steady light etc. My instinct says it shouldn't, or very little. Canon looked at the camera, but didn't seem to think there was a problem...


 


I have looked at the original shot, and the control panel does not preserve the original settings. I have looked in the metadata, but this does not help much either. I have also re-read the manual, and this does not indicate any auto-adjustment control. The software is the industry standard for this sort of thing, so is intended to keep your exposures consistent.


 


I keep coming back to the question of whether the camera should be capable of taking a series of stills at exactly the same exposure levels, or whether it is considered normal for it to have a certain 'fudge factor' which allows it to hunt around? (I have tried taking a series of stills in this way, unconnected to the computer, and still come out with differences from one exposure to the next.) This doesn't seem right to me.


 


I noticed that on the camera I cannot operate the Exposure Lock when it is in Manual mode. I assume this is normal. But the software manufacturer tells me that the camera must be linked to the computer in manual mode, via Live View, suggesting to me that it might not be able to lock the exposure, if I can't.... In which case, should I be able (i.e. is this intended by Canon) to lock the exposure in manual mode, and would this indicate a fault in the camera? (Of course this last point is irrelevant if the Exposure Lock does not continue from one shot to the next.)

Expert:  Russell H. replied 3 years ago.
Check whether the camera is on some form of Auto mode. Set it to Manual mode, then re-connect it and see if that alters the histogram variations, which can only be owing to *something* varying stuff around. Setting the camera to Manual mode should just plain eliminate the camera.

After that, if the histogram still varies, you need to reinstall the software you are using with the camera, after backing up what data and videos you want to save, then uninstalling the software, then restarting the computer, (and then installing the software again.)

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hmm. The camera has never been operated on Auto mode, as it was purchased expressly for animation, and I don't use it for anything else. But I'll check to see if the histogram wavers around in Auto mode as well as manual.


Not sure how it can be an issue with the framegrabber software, as that just captures the images produced by the camera. It doesn't process them. That happens later in Photoshop or After Effects.


OK. I've had a look at the histogram on the camera, in both Auto and Manual modes, and it seems to be steady - although it is quite a small readout. It certainly doesn't resemble what I see in the software - so that would suggest there is some issue, as you suggest, with the software, or the connections to the computer. I have tried a couple of different USB leads, and they don't seem to have made any difference at all, so do I then contact the software distributor again, as it was a download, not a DVD?

Expert:  Russell H. replied 3 years ago.
Try uninstalling, then restarting the computer, then reinstalling, the capture software (or whatever it is that you use to 'get' the animation into the computer.) That may simply reset its settings to whatever they were when you, at first, got the good results.
If that succeeds, then you will need to, at once, note down exactly what settings you have in every detail, so that you can go back to what works the instant it happens again... and also have some idea as to which settings are producing the problem.
Russell H., Technician
Category: Digital Cameras
Satisfied Customers: 10457
Experience: Working with digital cameras & questions for nearly 8 years.
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