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Shooting Subway trains with 5D4

WookiesDad
Contributor

Hello, all...

Hoping someone can offer some assistance based on first hand experience.

I do a fair amount of train and subway shooting. I noticed recently, while shooting in stations of Washington Metro that the status signs as well as signs on trains are only partially registering. My guess is that this has to do with LED "refreshing" in such signs vs. my chosen shutter speed. (I've also noticed this in shooting the more modern NYC Subway trains (R160-type) that the red circle around the route designator is often "incomplete."

Anyhow, I found that if I use shutter speed of ~1/100, on the Washington Metro trains, the route designator on front of train (ex: RED) will register completely. Any faster and it will not be complete or just show as a horizontal line. BUT if a status board is also in photo (i.e. Next train Arriving in X minutes) I'll just see "dotted lines" rather than text.

The dilemma here is in being able to use fast enough shutter speed to freeze an arriving train yet STILL to be able to read the electronic signs in same picture. I did notice the "Flicker" indicator is showing in my viewfinder, but I thought this actually related to fluorescent lighting rather than what I described above.

Any ideas from more experienced hands with the 5D4 would be greatly appreciated!

Many thanks.

8 REPLIES 8

Obviously, you have Flicker detect enabled in your VF, but do you have "Anti-flicker Shoot" enabled in shooting menu item 4? I understand that it's not the scenario described in the manual, but it might be worth a try since the 5D4 is detecting flicker. Something else you might try is shooting in burst mode so maybe one of the shots will get your signage while fully illuminated.

Thank you, FloridaDrafter! You've given me a project to try this weekend. That burst idea would seem to make sense, if only to find that elusive moment when both the status signs in the station AND the route designator on the train might be in sync. I didn't realize what a crapshoot this kind of shoot could be! 😉 But without a learning curve for new types of shooting, photography could certainly stagnate! To answer your question, I checked Menu Item 4 and Anti-Flicker Shoot is enabled.

 

BTW, as you are a more experienced hand with the 5D4 than I, perhaps you can answer another question that's had me chasing my tail: Is there any way to turn off the red focusing beam when, for example, shooting at infinity and not needing AF. Sorry if I missed it in going through the manual, but could not seem to find anything on that.

 

Again, many thanks!


@WookiesDad wrote:

Is there any way to turn off the red focusing beam when, for example, shooting at infinity and not needing AF. Sorry if I missed it in going through the manual, but could not seem to find anything on that.

 

Again, many thanks!


I'm not sure what you are refering to. Mine has no focusing beam, at least I've never noticed it. I could have disabled it long ago and just don't remember. There is an AF-Focus assist setting, but I think that is for flash. Now, my wifes R6 sure does, but it is amber.

Maybe you mean the red focus point in the VF?

@FloridaDrafter

Oops - My mistake! I was shooting an oncoming train and was concerned the red flashing grid I was seeing in my VF was actually shooting into the train operator's cab! Must've been thinking of the red focus-assist pattern projected by my old 430 EZ flash when shooting at night.

 

I don't believe flicker setting on the camera is going to help with these LED signs.  If all of the LEDs were flickering at the same rate, it would be different but if that were the case instead of seeing some out you would see all of the sign as completely on, dark, or somewhere in between depending upon sync between the shutter and the flicker rate but you wouldn't see some parts there and other parts missing.

 

LEDs are pulsed by their driver so that they aren't all on at once to limit maximum current draw so the driver will pulse different segments on/off at different times at a high rate.  To the human eye, it will appear continuous but that won't be the case with anything above a fairly low shutter speed.  

 

The flicker setting works with lamps that flicker together at the line frequency rate (60 hz in the US, 50 hz in many parts of the world).  But it won't help with displays that flash individual segments.

 

You can see the same effect here in this short video clip of my Corvette Z06.  To the human eye, the red taillights will display a solid form but the video camera shows the various segments flashing on and off and that is what your camera is catching at faster shutter speed.  You will probably have to take multiple shots, one to freeze the train and the others to capture the display information.

 

https://rodgersingley.smugmug.com/LED/n-8kFd8z

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video


@wq9nsc wrote:

I don't believe flicker setting on the camera is going to help with these LED signs.  If all of the LEDs were flickering at the same rate, it would be different but if that were the case instead of seeing some out you would see all of the sign as completely on, dark, or somewhere in between depending upon sync between the shutter and the flicker rate but you wouldn't see some parts there and other parts missing.

 


Rodger, I figured it was a long shot 🙂

FloridaDrafter,

 

LED lighting has its own strange issues! 

 

Rodger

EOS 1DX M3, 1DX M2, 1DX, 5DS R, 1D M2, EOS 650 (film), many lenses, XF400 video

Thanks, Rodger, for the further explanation of the LED on-off phenomenon. Geez, looks like I've got my work cut out for me in terms of getting both complete display of Metro route designators AND any status signs in the frame, although I suppose the easiest approach will be waiting for a train to stop and then shooting with wide-angle lens that will allow handholding at a slow enough shutter speed that - just maybe! - all LEDs in frame "appear" on at the same time.

Handsome blue on your 'vette. 

And I see we were both EOS-ing when the system arrived...

medium.com/@emberphoto/happy-anniversary-eos-8d13a7413cbc

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