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Why I NEVER use ND Filters With Drone Cameras

herein2021

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I can create the exact same effect with my Red Epic. In fact in certain situations I’ve done that because the effect works. Like shooting whitewater rapids, where a 1/4000 shutter creates a sparkly effect in the water that really works for that subject. It’s not a flaw, like HMI flicker, it’s a characteristic of high shutter speed footage. I don’t like that look for most subjects.

The NFL is really not relevant here. They’re shooting at higher shutter speeds and frame rates so that slo-mo playback will look better and their signal path includes devices capable of frame blending and interlace for 1080i playback.

I think part of the problem here is that no one has really stated their definition of strobing. Strobing to me is a rapid increase and then decrease in exposure. Using a higher shutter speed when combined with the rest of the proper settings of the exposure triangle will not affect the exposure.

Even the effect you just described would not be defined as strobing, the exposure did not change, there was simply no motion blur to make the transitions of the water drops as they fell look less than hyper realistic. I have agreed many times 100%....higher shutter speeds definitely reduce or eliminate motion blur that is a well known fact, but as long as the exposure remains constant which it will when using daylight lighting, then strobing will not occur.

If people simply do not like the reduced motion blur of higher shutter speeds then sure, that is a good use case to use an ND filter to lower the shutter speed until the motion blur that is required is achieved, but to state that "strobing" as defined by rapid changes in exposure is caused by high shutter speeds is still a false statement when using daylight as the light source and this is why there are no reputable articles and no one can provide a single link to a reputable source that states flickering or strobing is caused by high shutter speeds; hyperrealism sure, possible camcorder look sure....strobing/flickering....no.
 

AirStreamPictures

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I think part of the problem here is that no one has really stated their definition of strobing. Strobing to me is a rapid increase and then decrease in exposure. Using a higher shutter speed when combined with the rest of the proper settings of the exposure triangle will not affect the exposure.

Even the effect you just described would not be defined as strobing, the exposure did not change, there was simply no motion blur to make the transitions of the water drops as they fell look less than hyper realistic. I have agreed many times 100%....higher shutter speeds definitely reduce or eliminate motion blur that is a well known fact, but as long as the exposure remains constant which it will when using daylight lighting, then strobing will not occur.

If people simply do not like the reduced motion blur of higher shutter speeds then sure, that is a good use case to use an ND filter to lower the shutter speed until the motion blur that is required is achieved, but to state that "strobing" as defined by rapid changes in exposure is caused by high shutter speeds is still a false statement when using daylight as the light source and this is why there are no reputable articles and no one can provide a single link to a reputable source that states flickering or strobing is caused by high shutter speeds; hyperrealism sure, possible camcorder look sure....strobing/flickering....n
I think part of the problem here is that no one has really stated their definition of strobing. Strobing to me is a rapid increase and then decrease in exposure. Using a higher shutter speed when combined with the rest of the proper settings of the exposure triangle will not affect the exposure.

Even the effect you just described would not be defined as strobing, the exposure did not change, there was simply no motion blur to make the transitions of the water drops as they fell look less than hyper realistic. I have agreed many times 100%....higher shutter speeds definitely reduce or eliminate motion blur that is a well known fact, but as long as the exposure remains constant which it will when using daylight lighting, then strobing will not occur.

If people simply do not like the reduced motion blur of higher shutter speeds then sure, that is a good use case to use an ND filter to lower the shutter speed until the motion blur that is required is achieved, but to state that "strobing" as defined by rapid changes in exposure is caused by high shutter speeds is still a false statement when using daylight as the light source and this is why there are no reputable articles and no one can provide a single link to a reputable source that states flickering or strobing is caused by high shutter speeds; hyperrealism sure, possible camcorder look sure....strobing/flickering....no.
I’d say you’re right about that. (That part of the problem is semantic.) What you call strobing, I would call flicker. (As in HMI flicker or “FLICKERfree” lighting.) I call it strobing because it reminds me of the staccato motion you get with strobe lights in a dark room. Strobing is not changes in light level, it’s discontinuous light—light/no light/light… but it’s semantics, and as far as I know neither of us works for Webster’s, so I guess it doesn’t matter as long as we’ve figured out what the other is talking about.

It is a pretty common problem in photography forums these days. Terms like “banding,” “strobing,” and “flicker” aren’t very universally defined. But you see it all the time with terms like DOF and just haven’t learned the basic terminology of the craft. (Not meaning you here at all.) Terminology causes a lot of confusion on the net.
 
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herein2021

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I’d say you’re right about that. (That part of the problem is semantic.) What you call strobing, I would call flicker. (As in HMI flicker or “FLICKERfree” lighting.) I call it strobing because it reminds me of the staccato motion you get with strobe lights in a dark room. Strobing is not changes in light level, it’s discontinuous light—light/no light/light… but it’s semantics, and as far as I know neither of us works for Webster’s, so I guess it doesn’t matter as long as we’ve figured out what the other is talking about.

It is a pretty common problem in photography forums these days. Terms like “banding,” “strobing,” and “flicker” aren’t very universally defined. But you see it all the time with terms like DOF and just haven’t learned the basic terminology of the craft. (Not meaning you here at all.) Terminology causes a lot of confusion on the net.

I definitely agree with you. so I think we went full circle and may have decided we are saying the same thing...that ND filters will lower the shutter speed which will add motion blur if desirable but if not desirable (or required) not using an ND filter will reduce motion blur to a state that some may find undesirable depending on the final shutter speed.

For the type of projects that I shoot I have never needed or used an ND filter with my drone footage; I've also never had a client complain that the footage did not have enough motion blur or that it had flicker/strobing/pulsing/stuttering but I am genuinely curious to see exactly what footage that people using ND filters would find undesirable if they did not use an ND filter. So the video below is one that I put together with nothing but high shutter speed footage. All of the footage in the video was shot at 4K30FPS 4:2:0 10bit with manual exposure and the ALOG profile. The shutter speed for the camera for every clip in the video ranged from 1/1000s - 1/2000s. I did not add any motion blur in post.

Keep in mind that YouTube macro blocking and compression artifacts will impact the footage in the video especially for the faster moving footage. This would have occurred regardless of what shutter speed was used.

 

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