Strobes and Digital Cameras

nerdly_dood

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Jun 15, 2010
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I think it's been pretty well established that many digital cameras don't take kindly to filming strobes.


A couple months ago I thought about this and took a sample video of the light on a phone company van. A simple amber strobe beacon, producing a bright triple-flash, with each flash at equal intensity.


http://s1006.photobucket.com/albums/af1 ... =00000.mp4


Yeah, it didn't turn out too well. But then a couple days ago the fire department had a mock dormitory fire at my university. It was around sunset, and they had a pumper here with a bunch of strobes on it, and using the very same camera, lo and behold, it worked just fine.


Fast forward to 10:44 for the strobes. And yes, the right-hand strobe on the front bumper is doing a double-flash, alternating with the quad-flash on the left-hand front bumper strobe and the center one above the grille - fast forward to 12:06 for the best view of that. The double-flash did appear to have more light output per flash than the quad-flash too.


My guess would be that filming in the sunlight caused the camera to take shorter exposures per frame, meaning that more flashes of the strobe happened between frames, but filming late in the evening, there was almost no time at all between frames, so almost every strobe flash was captured.
 
I have that issue also, I filmed a rapid single flash strobe indoors, and most, flashes were caught, some werent, which made it look like a tripple or quad flash. same strobe outdoors in brighter light and not much was caught.
 
My experience has been that you should use a slow(er) shutter speed (and, as such, a tripod). Assuming, of course, you don't get lucky and capture the strobe on when firing blindly.
 
Doug said:
My experience has been that you should use a slow(er) shutter speed (and, as such, a tripod). Assuming, of course, you don't get lucky and capture the strobe on when firing blindly.
Actually trying to take a still picture of a strobe would naturally be REALLY hard, but my main point was using a digital camera to take videos - plenty of videos on YouTube show people trying to take a video of strobes, and they only show little jerky single flashes here and there; only a handful show the proper flashing effect.


This is the kind of thing I'm talking about, originally posted by someone else on ELB:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SS2YuQZn2N8


The very same truck at night:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci1YezDuY40
 
it all depends on the frame rate the camera shoots at and the flash rate of the strobe light, the more ambient light the faster the frame rate


heres another example and it shows when the flash pattern changes so does the number of flashes caught by the camera

 
signal12 said:
it all depends on the frame rate the camera shoots at and the flash rate of the strobe light, the more ambient light the faster the frame rate
heres another example and it shows when the flash pattern changes so does the number of flashes caught by the camera

If that light isn't awesome, i don't know what is. That thing is worth its own new thread...!
 
I really like the "rotating filter" idea. I wish the stobes were easieer to capture.
 

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