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Creating quality photos / videos of LED projects
gambistics Posted: 8 Jan 2024, 10:55 AM
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Joined: 8-January 24
Hi there,

I have built some blinky badges but I have always struggled to get good shots of the projects. Especially, videos have a hard time capturing the full fidelity of animations. Problems I have:

* shoot in the dark or with light? (I guess mostly depends on whether I want to show the board or just the animations?)
* LEDs are often quite bright and different parts of an animation can have vastly different overall brightness, adjusting parameters dynamically is hard or finding good static values for aperture and exposure. Shooting with mobile phones has its own challenges.
* distance from camera to the object, rather use zoom (= less light, which can be good) or no zoom and close distance
* how to reduce lens blending?

Does anyone has some tips / default recommendations especially for blinky projects?

Last edit by gambistics at 8 Jan 2024, 10:56 AM

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mit Posted: 8 Jan 2024, 03:49 PM
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yeah whatever

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It is indeed difficult to get the right exposure in these situations.

Firstly, I always use manual exposure modes. Modern cameras will still be auto-ISO even in "manual" mode, which can be confusing, often you have to play with manual shutter, manual aperture AND exposure compensation. For still images I use a metered bounce flash, which means you can also play with flash exposure compensation.

For video getting a balance between ambient light and the glowy LEDs is very hard. In the scaffold video I had a fluorescent light in the corner of the room, and we just moved further away from it to balance the amount of light with what was coming from the piercing.

Another thing to worry about is white balance, which is particularly annoying if you have bright red LEDs, mixed with daylight fluorescent, and with human skin in the picture. In most situations, white balance can be corrected in post, but not if you have a mix of unmatched light sources in the same scene.

It is always much, much better if you can shoot with the right settings compared to trying to fix it in post. I sometimes tease people by saying "If you have to fix it in post, you're not using the camera correctly" - it's not quite true, but it's the attitude I have.

All of my videos are shot on DSLRs with a macro lens, I've never tried making a proper video using a phone camera. In theory a smartphone camera should be good at macro, the tiny sensor would work in your favour. There may be 3rd party apps that give you more control over the camera and reduce the amount of unhelpful postprocessing the phone probably does.

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gambistics Posted: 9 Jan 2024, 10:22 AM
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Thanks a lot for the reply! I suspected that ultimately manual settings and experimentation is required and there's no magic way of making it work. Good to have a confirmation!

I guess I have to get my camera gear out and experiment a bit more. :)

Here's a shot of the project I'm working on (related to https://scrollprize.org). I took some inspiration from your posts and used a CH32V003... Nifty little chip.

(User posted image)


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mit Posted: 10 Jan 2024, 12:25 PM
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yeah whatever

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Looks interesting. Certainly a lack of ambient light if you wanted to show anything more than the LEDs. You might be able to just drop the brightness of the LEDs for the sake of filming it.

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