Beamshots of many lights. Picture heavy

iced_theater

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Joined
Oct 12, 2005
Messages
819
Location
Green River, Wyoming
Figure this would be the best place for some beamshots as it's a combination of most of my lights. I set the white markers at 25 feet, 50 feet, 100 feet, and 200 feet distance. The camera is on manual night mode and is the same on all pictures. The color/brightness may or may not be exactly as it is in person, but gives a good idea on how they stand to other lights. The pictures are taken at the local shooting range at 3 AM.

Base shot
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2D Maglite
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Surefire 8NX
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3AA Mini-Mag LED
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Inova T3
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Superflashlight III Combat Grip low
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Superflashlight III Combat Grip high
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Chameleon CT5
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Chameleon Chamelehead CT5
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Luxogen LR10W
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Led Logic Striker-VG high
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Surefire PK Milspec K2 KROMA low
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Surefire PK Milspec K2 KROMA high
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Surefire PKEF-A 5K 5W low
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Surefire PKEF-A 5K 5W high
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ROP Medium Stripple high
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leukos

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Apr 8, 2004
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3,467
Location
Chicagoland
That's a clever way to show depth of field. Perhaps targets with a range of colors in the same setup would really make a nice comparison. :goodjob:
 

Mischief[LTS]

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Sep 11, 2006
Messages
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great job man. just one more question: when are you gonna do some more! :)

i'm debating between m3 and l6 but there arent many comparison beamshots of the two
 

MoonRise

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Feb 9, 2004
Messages
542
Location
NJ
Nice.

I especially liked the "base shot". :nana:

Just curious, do you know what the aperture and shutter speed are/were for the shots? Manual night mode doesn't really tell me that. And did you do a manual focus override to infinity or some other distance?
 

underdust

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Mar 19, 2005
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197
Location
Syracuse, NY
Very nice! Thanks for posting those.

I had always thought that a golf driving/practice range would be a great place for taking beamshots, because they almost all have yardage signs similar to your markers. The hard part would be finding someone that owns a driving range who wouldn't mind people snooping around there after dark.
 

iced_theater

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Oct 12, 2005
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819
Location
Green River, Wyoming
Where would one be able to get those range of colors sheets? I don't have a printer so I couldn't print any myself.

I'll be doing more when I get more lights. I will add a Elektrolumens Tri-Blaster-3XK2-4C when it's made, and a Maxlite II high output when it gets made.

I honestly don't know the aperature and shutter speed of it on night mode as it didn't say. I tried using many different a/s/m's but they almost all turned out black or very faint light. My camera is a Olympus Camedia C-765 Ultra Zoom 4 Megapixel.

The city owns this shooting range, and while I don't know if they like it that I'm out there, they haven't driven out there to look for people. It is about 4-5 miles outside of the actual town on dirt roads. Also, the yardage signs they have out there are at something like 200, 400, 600, 700 yards out. :) Well beyond what most flashlights can possibly do.
 

MoonRise

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Feb 9, 2004
Messages
542
Location
NJ
Hmmmm, a quick check on steves-digicams.com for an Olympus C-765 4Mp camera says that you can do manual mode with that camera.

To see what the exposure info about the shot is, just look at the display screen and it will tell you the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO speed when you are taking the picture (as long as you aren't in program/auto mode).

To see the info about the picture when you view it, preview the image on the display screen, then press the "OK/Menu" button to get more options, then press the LEFT button to toggle the display of additional image information (like the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings). The histogram display also looks like it will show the exposure info as well.

For taking beamshots, you definitely do not want any auto modes. The camera will try to capture an image and get a "correct" exposure, but that means that the camera will most likely have different exposure values for the different shots.

You can not use any auto modes, and that includes P (program), A (aperture priority), S (shutter priority), or any 'scene' modes (party, portrait, landscape, etc). You really have to use full manual and lock the ISO and WB (white balance) as well. Full manual means that you set the aperture and the shutter speed, even if the camera doesn't think that those settings are 'correct'. You probably should also lock or set the focus, if possible, so that the camera isn't hunting for focus in the dark or changing focus between shots.

Oh, and obviously make sure that you have the built-in flash turned off. You did.

Digital cameras let you play with and check your pictures and exposures right away and change and redo the shot quickly as well.
 

MoonRise

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NJ
Well, step ONE is to read the manual. :nana:

More seriously, manual mode is easy but YOU have to do the settings for both shutter speed and aperture. Since you are trying to get images of beamshots from lights that have varying amounts of light output, even when you have the settings 'right' some images will be darker and some will be lighter.

Step one: white balance or WB. If you don't know what WB is, it is like the color bins of LEDs but it applies to ALL light sources. Pick multiple 'white' LEDs and use them by themselves and they should look pretty 'white'. Compare them to one another against a white wall and you will start to notice tint differences between them. That is basically what WB refers to. To make the images and colors look 'right', the camera can do some compensation for the different 'bins' of light sources. Since you want the camera to let you see the difference between different beam shots, you want all the camera settings to be the same and the only difference to be the lights themselves. Since you don't want the camera to try and compensate for different tints, you want to set the WB and not use the AUTO setting. I'd say to set the WB to Daylight and leave it there for your beamshots.

OK, now that WB is taken care of, you next need to set the ISO. If your camera images degrade at higher ISO settings by having grain/noise or color problems in the images, then don't use the higher ISO settings. Most digicams will produce the 'best' image (least amount of noise/grain or color problems) at the lowest ISO setting. Pick that one or just use 100 as that is pretty common.

Now that those two settings are taken care of, you just have to set the exposure. The exposure consists of the shutter speed and the aperture at a given ISO setting. For comparison, a daylight exposure in bright sun might be f/16 and 1/125 sec at ISO 100 or the equivalent. The aperture is the "f" number and the shutter speed is the time the shutter is opened in seconds. An equivalent exposure would be f/8 and 1/250 sec at ISO 100. Or f/8 and 1/500 at ISO 200. They are all equivalent exposures, because they let the same 'amount' of light into the camera.

Since almost no flashlight is as powerful as the sun, you will have to pretty much let the shutter stay open longer to let the light in to make the image. Just remember that if you are trying to compare beamshots of lights with greatly varying brightness and lumens levels, you can't just pick one exposure and necessarily use it for all of your beam shots. If you base the exposure for an Arc AAA, then an HID will be too bright. And vice versa.

What to do? Pick a mid-range exposure and try some shots to see if the lights you are trying make 'decent' exposures. If not, reset the exposure and try again. Repeat until you are happy. Do the whole exposure-guess exercise again if you do more beamshots and the light has a greatly different brightness or lumens output.

Where do you start in your exposure-guess? Try f/8 and 4 seconds. If too dark, then leave the shutter open longer. If too light, then use a shorter shutter speed. Repeat and adjust until you are satisfied.

You might want to make a note of what settings you used for beamshots, so the next time you can use the same settings. This way you can compare beamshots taken at different times and know that the only difference is from the different lights.

Oh, if you put a copy of your original images up on your photobucket account I/anyone can probably read the EXIF info and tell what settings were used. But you have to put the original up, not a resized or otherwise manipulated image (the EXIF info gets lost when you do that).
 

OldNick

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Sep 3, 2006
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Western Australia
I have been beating a drum about all this, just in the last week, on another thread!

I applaud the idea of the cards. I suggested side by side at a standard distance, but this idea has a lot more merit. Maybe a combo, to give beam sprread? I also liked the fact that you went to the trouble to go to a dark, open place to take the shots.

I also feel we need camera settings, Moonrise. However I feel that if we could agree on a _standard_ set of settings, we would see real comparative shots. There is often a marked advantage in the ability of the eye to to manage contrast compared to cameras. This makes us tend to overexpose shots to produce a good view of the periphery of the beam, I feel. Standard targets would help this.

I became concerned about this when another poster and I both posted "real" shots of LED lights in similar conditions, but which were at least 6 F-stops equivalent apart in exposure. I felt ISO 100, F2.8, 1 second and 35mm equiv lens length. The other guy thought ISO 200, F2.8, 3 seconds, with what looked like roughly the same "lens length". So he gave it 6 times as much light onto the snnsor as I had. Naturally his photos looked brilliant!

Cameras do differ, but not that much. I took shots at ISO 200, 3 seconds and they were way overexposed. I wished they were real. We cannot judge an absolute with our eyes. But surely we can come to agree about a comparative.
 

iced_theater

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Green River, Wyoming
I'd be all for a "standard" in photo taking. Would help me out so I don't have to decide what's best to use. When I get my three lights I'm waiting on, I'll redo the test if someone helps decide what standard we should do.
 
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