Known for their energy efficiency, LED lights have been growing in popularity. However, you may wonder why LED lights flicker on camera and how you can fix this.
Alongside their energy efficiency savings, LED lights also benefit from a long lifespan, making them the preferred choice of eco-conscious consumers and business looking to reduce their electricity costs.
LEDs generate stable and consistent light for the human eye; however, when captured on video, they may flicker. Keep reading to find out why this happens, and what can you do about it.
What is a Flickering LED?
Flickering refers to a rapid and repetitive change in brightness or light intensity, creating a strobe effect. It’s like a light bulb that keeps getting brighter and dimmer quickly, almost like it’s blinking. This blinking effect can happen with LED lights, causing them to appear to flash on and off.
What Is the Strobe Effect?
The strobe effect is a fascinating visual phenomenon that occurs when a light source turns on and off quickly. This rapid switching creates the illusion of freezing or slowing down motion, making objects appear as if they are in a series of still frames. The result is a mesmerising effect where movements seem segmented or disjointed.
Strobe lights, often used in clubs, concerts, and special effects, take advantage of this effect to create an exhilarating and dynamic atmosphere. The strobe effect can also be witnessed in everyday situations, such as when car wheels spin slowly under certain lighting conditions.
Why Do Lights Flicker on Camera?
LED lights operate by rapidly turning on and off to create the illusion of continuous illumination. Unfortunately, the rapid switching can lead to mismatches between the light’s frequency and the camera’s frame rate. When these frequencies are not synchronised, the camera captures the light turning on or off at different stages, resulting in flickering.
In addition, LED lights use pulse-width modulation (PWM) to control brightness, where they cycle between being fully on and entirely off within each frame. Flickering can occur if the camera’s shutter speed or frame rate is not aligned with the PWM frequency.
Other factors contributing to LED flickering on the camera include voltage fluctuations, low-quality dimmers, or incompatible camera settings.
How to Fix Flickering Lights on Camera
Flickering lights can be a concern in the workplace, especially when undertaking essential video calls or conferences. Dealing with flickering lights on camera can be a frustrating experience. It can ruin the quality of your videos or photos, leaving you with subpar results. Fortunately, there are several effective ways to fix this issue.
Adjust the Frames Per Seccond (FPS):
- One of the primary causes of flickering lights on camera is a mismatch between the frequency of the light source and the camera’s frame rate. Most standard lighting systems operate at a frequency of 50 or 60 Hz. On the other hand, cameras typically capture video at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second (FPS).
- To resolve this, try adjusting the camera’s FPS to match the frequency of the lighting. For instance, if the light operates at 50 Hz, setting the camera to 50 FPS can significantly reduce or eliminate flickering.
Adjusting the Shutter Speed:
- Experiment with different shutter speeds until you find a setting that minimises or eliminates the flicker. Using a shutter speed that is a multiple of the light source’s frequency (such as 1/50 or 1/60 second) helps synchronise the camera’s capture with the light’s cycling, resulting in smoother footage.
Adjusting the Brightness of the Light Source or Using a Stable Light Source:
- LED lights often flicker when they are operated at low brightness levels. Increasing the brightness can stabilise the lights and reduce or eliminate the flicker. Alternatively, consider using a stable light source, such as professional-grade LED panels or incandescent bulbs. These tend to have less of a flickering effect than cheaper or older LED models.
Upgrading Your Lights to a New System:
- If flickering persists despite adjustments, it might be time to upgrade to a newer LED lighting system. Some modern LED lights are specifically designed to minimise or eliminate flickering, offering improved performance and consistency. Look for lights with features like “flicker-free” or “strobe-free” technology, as these are designed to provide stable lighting without causing flickering on camera.
Checking the Anti-flicker Settings on the Camera:
Many cameras have built-in anti-flicker settings that can automatically adjust the capture frequency to mitigate flickering issues. Enabling this setting can reduce or eliminate flickering caused by inconsistent light sources. Explore your camera’s settings menu to see if such an option is available.
Other Causes of LED Light Flickering Beyond Camera-Related Factors
LED light flickering on cameras can be a common concern. However, not all instances of flickering are directly tied to camera-related issues. Various other factors can contribute to LED light flickering. They include:
A Problem With the Bulb:
- A faulty LED bulb can cause flickering. These problems may result from manufacturing defects, poor quality control, or damage to the internal components. If the flickering persists even after trying other troubleshooting methods, consider replacing the bulb with a new one from a reputable brand.
- Loose connections between the LED bulb and its socket can lead to flickering. Vibrations or movement can cause the wires to loosen over time. Ensure that the bulb is securely screwed into the socket and that the electrical connections are tight. Turn off the power and check for any loose or damaged wiring.
- If the wiring in your home or building is outdated or not designed to handle LED lighting, it can contribute to flickering issues. Older electrical systems may not provide a stable and consistent power supply, causing the LED lights to flicker. Consider consulting a professional electrician to inspect and upgrade your wiring if needed.
- LED lights require lower power compared to traditional incandescent bulbs. However, having multiple LED lights connected to an overloaded circuit can result in flickering. This occurs when the circuit cannot handle all the lights’ combined power demand. Consider redistributing the load or consulting an electrician to add additional circuits to avoid overloading.
LED lights flickering on camera can be an annoyance for office workers who need a high-quality connection. However, understanding the causes behind this issue and implementing the right solutions can turn flickering frustrations into a thing of the past. Once fixed, LED lights become game-changers, offering energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and longevity.