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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Anti-Flicker Technology - The Real Story
Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 7:57 AM on 06.06.16
->> I've read many posts both here and on other web sites from photographers that seem to "rave" about anti-flicker technology incorporated in the newer Canon DSLR cameras. I'm not trying to be a party pooper, but there seems to be some misunderstanding of how this technology actually works and the impact it has when shooting sports.

I think the term "anti-flicker" gives some the belief that the camera somehow removes the color variations from shot to shot when shooting under mercury vapor or fluorescent lighting conditions. It actually does not. What actually happens is the RGB metering system measures the light output and seeks the optimum output of the light as it cycles. It then allows the shutter to release at those peak moments.

OK. So what could be wrong with that? What happens if the peak moment of action doesn't occur at the peak moment of the lights cycle? Right, the shutter won't release and you missed the shot. Isn't it better to have anti-flicker off, shoot RAW, get every frame, and try to correct the color and exposure variations yourself in post production? Of course it is and that's why the default setting is set to OFF.

Rudy Winston from Canon explains anti-flicker in an article he wrote on the 7D where the technology was first introduced.

http://www.learn.usa.canon.com/resources/articles/2014/eos7dmkii_antiflicke...

I tested anti-flicker with my 1DX II on a baseball field the other night where I knew the power cycles were horrible due to the age of the lights on the field. My shutter sounded like a lawn mower with a bad spark plug, water in the gas, and no oil in the crankcase.

If anti-flicker works for you...Great. For me, it will always remain OFF.
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Vincent Johnson, Photographer
Chicago | IL | USA | Posted: 8:20 PM on 06.10.16
->> Wait, not everybody shoots in RAW?
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 6:48 AM on 06.11.16
->> Wait...That's fine.

Shoot JPEG and just delete the images with the color cast. This doesn't have anything to do with shooting RAW (other than the fact that it's a bit easier to clean up than a JPEG).

The point of my post is that Anti-Flicker doesn't correct the color cast. All it's doing is metering the light pulses and determining the peaks of the cycle. At that time, and that time only, will the camera tell the shutter to release. If you are cool with letting the "in-camera" system make these decisions then all the more power to you.

For me, I'd rather make that decision and get every frame (including the frame at the peak of the cycle)and then make the determination if the image is usable or not in post production. Again.... it doesn't matter if I'm shooting RAW or JPEG.
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Jim Karczewski, Photographer, Assistant
Hammond | IN | USA | Posted: 6:36 PM on 06.13.16
->> But at 1/60th of a second for cycle the most you'd ever wait is 1/60th, most of the time less for the shutter.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 4:58 AM on 06.14.16
->> Jim - All I can suggest is that you actually try the feature. Your point is valid ... however you are making a big assumption that the camera anti-flicker technology will work every time .... measuring the cycles and releasing the shutter at the peaks of each cycle.

Now, on a football or baseball field you may have up to 6 light poles. Each pole has 6-8 heads on it with each head cycling on it's own. On a basketball, volleyball, or hockey rink, you my have up to 16 heads ... again cycling on their own. What happens as you follow focus through all of these cycling lights? How will the anti-flicker technology respond? Will it ever have the chance to truly measure where all of the lights hitting the subject are all at their peaks at the same time. Will it be able to detect that the subject is moving from one set of lights to another and must remeasure?

Based on my experience, anti-flicker is nothing more than a feature designed to make the camera appear smarter than the photographer and the world they work in and creating a false impression that it's "eliminating/preventing the flicker". All it's doing is "attempting" to keep the shutter release suppressed and "eliminating the butt ugly frames" (something that we do already in post production using our own judgement ... with our own eyes).

Something tells me that all it will take is for you to miss one big shot as a result of having anti-flicker turned on and you will immediately return it to it's default setting of OFF.

Again, my whole point is to make sure everyone understands how anti-flicker actually works and how it may impact your shooting. If you use it and it works for you ... great. You will at least know what the camera is actually doing and the risks you take when using it.

Again, the proof is in the actual testing you do yourself with the cameras you own that have this technology available. If you don't own one of those cameras and are considering purchasing one, I wouldn't put "anti-flicker" on the checklist of reasons for buying.
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Ron Scheffler, Photographer
Hamilton (Toronto area) | Ontario | Canada | Posted: 3:40 AM on 07.01.16
->> You're right that it will definitely change the fps rate and could potentially make it somewhat irregular. I think the significance will depend on how critical the perfect timing of images are for a given event.

If it's an important game and you're shooting for peak action that defines the story of the game, then yes, maybe you run the risk of the camera deciding to release the shutter at the wrong times.

If you're shooting youth sports for on-site print sales, you probably don't care as much about peak action as you do about getting decent action shots of all the kids in the short period of time you're able to shoot them. If anti-flicker results in images that have a much more consistent WB and exposure in-camera, then it's a huge benefit requiring a lot less file massaging at the printing stage. And such events, at least those I've shot, are never RAW and strictly Jpeg for simplified file management and speed. Even if shot RAW, it's tough to correct an image where one half has a magenta shift while the other half is maybe too yellow.

I got the 1DXII a week ago and have shot two weddings with it so far. During both I found the anti-flicker feature extremely useful for working at relatively high shutter speeds (over 1/250) under fluorescent lights where normally there would be frame to frame WB and exposure variations.

With anti-flicker enabled at these events, I've noticed very little, if any, WB and exposure fluctuations during sequences, compared to shooting the original 1DX or any other camera without anti-flicker. Kind of surprised this is one of the 'killer' features of the 1DXII, for me so far. In one case, it was extremely beneficial for shooting against a background of LED light strings, which flicker tremendously. With anti-flicker turned off, the lights were off in a majority of the images due to their cycling. With anti-flicker turned on, every single image was consistently exposed and with the LEDs fully on...

Unless it's a fps critical situation, like maybe pro sports in a well-lit stadium, I will probably just leave anti-flicker enabled most of the time. So many facilities now are using LEDs, and this is especially the case for event/stage lighting. Most of those LED implementations are not optimized to reduce flicker (but I have shot in some arenas that didn't have LED flicker problems). And of course, fluorescent lighting has been around for ages and is so commonplace. Not to mention mercury vapor in a lot of community sports facilities. For me it will mean being able to shoot at action-freezing shutter speeds under bright fluorescent or mercury vapor lighting without the need to worry or deal with tweaking large numbers of files individually for specific WB and exposure adjustments.
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Kevin Krows, Photographer
Forsyth | IL | USA | Posted: 9:28 AM on 07.01.16
->> Some very good points Ron and agree with most. However, if I am not mistaken, Canon does not recommend leaving anti-flicker on all the time as it will impact overall performance. That's why their default is set to OFF. If it's something that you think you would use regularly, you could always add the feature to your custom menu so that turning it on/off would be fast and easy. That's what I do with features that I change, tweak, or need access to regularly.

Again, anti-flicker is nice to have. The point of my thread is that folks really understand the ins and outs of how Canon achieves it and the plus and negatives. Canon's marketing would like you to believe that there is "magic" at work or that a little man is inside every 1DX II doing color correction. That's simply not the case.
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Thread Title: Anti-Flicker Technology - The Real Story
Thread Started By: Kevin Krows
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