Why Do LED Lights Flicker on Camera?

When seen through the lens of the camera, sometimes you may see flickering LED lights. Lighting plays a huge role in photography, and these flashing lights can be challenging for the photographer.

Nonetheless, flashing LED lights on the camera is perfectly normal and fixable. In this article, you will find why LED lights flicker on camera and how to resolve this issue.

Why Do Some LED Lights Cause Flickering Effect on Camera?

LED lights are powerful sources of light. They are often used by photographers during filming and photography as an additional light source to bring out the scene in a better way.

Working with these lights, however, can be challenging as they may flash and flicker on camera. This is because the light pulses coming out of a LED bulb are very fast. As a result, they are often captured by the camera.  

If you are seeing flashing lights on your camera, then don’t stress. You should know that it is nothing unusual and can be caused by multiple reasons.

Artificial Lights Always Flicker

You may observe the flickering of LED lights through your camera lens because it is constant. Whenever you use an artificial light source, they actually turn on and off at regular intervals.

However, this occurrence is so rapid that it is undetectable with the naked eye.  Be it LED, fluorescent, or incandescent lights, it is normal behavior for artificial lights to flicker.

This activity becomes obvious on the camera when the frame rate of the camera does not match the LED lights.

Your Camera Settings

Unsuitable camera setting is one of the most common yet unacknowledged reasons for LED lights flickering on the camera.

A camera mostly opens and closes its shutter more quickly than the flickering LED light. This frame rate and the camera’s shutter speed can majorly affect the way that lights are seen on the camera. 

Power Supply Issues

An unstable power supply is another possible reason why LED lights flicker on camera.

If your shooting location has an unreliable or wavering voltage connection, then there is a greater chance for you to notice flickering LED lights when photographing or filming.

Moreover, different regions have different voltage frequencies. This can cause an unintentional strobing effect in your videos and images.

How to Stop Flickering of Lights on Camera?

Now you know how LED lights work with a camera and why they often flicker when seen through the lens of the camera. This issue can be very annoying and frustrating for most photographers.

Fortunately, it can be fixed with a few simple adjustments. These modifications and tricks may not help you completely eliminate the effect, but the flickering will decrease significantly.

Here are some ideas to stop the LED lights to flicker on the camera:

Increase Distance from the Light Source

This may seem like a very insufficient solution to the problem of flickering lights. However, sometimes, the distance between the camera lens and the LED light can make a world of difference to the outcome. 

As you increase the distance between the lens and the light, you will reduce the flickering effect noticeably. That’s because the distance will reduce the luminance of the LED light, decreasing its ability to reflect. 

However, this solution also comes with an obvious drawback. Increasing your distance from the light will also make your frame get darker.

Consequently, you will have to adjust your camera settings accordingly. If you fail to achieve the right balance according to the light, your resulting images might be too dark or too bright.

Adjusting the FPS of your Camera

When the  FPS speed is at its maximum it allows the camera to record intricate details. This makes the flickering effect even more apparent and noticeable than it actually is.

The chances of the flickering effect becoming a part of your video becomes even greater when it takes more frames per second. 

You can easily reduce this flicker by adjusting the frames per second settings of your camera. However, the downside of reducing your camera’s FPS is that it may affect the smoothness of your video.

The part of the video that you shoot with a reduced FPS may end up looking choppy and uneven.

Set Appropriate Shutter Speed

When you are recording specific details in a frame, the shutter speed of the camera plays a very critical role. You should be aware of the power supply and its frequency in order to set the shutter speed accordingly. 

You can change the shutter speed manually and should keep it as a multiple of 50 or 60, depending upon your location.

For example, if you are recording a video whose power source is utilizing 60 Hertz, you may have to film at 30 fps. Adjusting the shutter speed to intervals divisible by 60, i.e., 1/60, 1/120. It will help reduce the flickering effect in the resulting videos and images.

However, you have to be very careful in order to select just the right shutter speed. That’s because unsuitable speed can cause many adverse impacts on the outcome, such as motion blur, frozen motion, unflattering lighting, and so on. 

Regulate Light Intensity

Another solution to the issue of flickering Led lights on camera is to ensure the adjustment of the brightness of your light source.

Reducing the intensity of the light and making it duller will have a lesser flickering effect.

However, it leads to the same downside as increasing your distance from the source of light. Your shooting frame will get darker.

You will then have to adjust the exposure and aperture settings of your camera accordingly.

Use Editing Software

Sometimes, all the above-mentioned methods do not work, and you still end up getting an annoying flicker of lights in your resulting images and videos.

That’s when using editing software can be your last resort. It is the easiest and the most effective method to get rid of that flickering effect of LED lights.

Some of the advanced video editing software, including Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, or Adobe After Effects are designed to deal with photography challenges like this one.

All these software come with various plugins and features that can get the flickering problem resolved with a click of a button. 

FAQS

Do all lights flicker?

Yes, all light sources that are artificial tend to flicker, including incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, and LED. This flicker happens because of the super-fast voltage variation in lights.

Do incandescent bulbs appear to flicker on camera?

Incandescent bulbs do flicker like all other artificial light sources.

However, this occurrence is not noticeable on a camera. That’s because these bulbs work on a different principle than the LED bulbs.  

The incandescent bulbs operate with a filament that becomes white-hot to give off heat and light. This filament does not cool down even during the off state.

As a result, the residual heat from the glowing hot filament gives an impression that it’s on. Hence, no flickering effect is seen on the camera.

Final Thoughts

Now you know why the LED lights flicker on camera, and how you can fix it. Once you understand the distance, shutter speed, and different brightnesses, you will be able to do it a lot more easily and effectively.

However, if nothing works, you can simply use video editing software to reach your desired outcomes.