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Lock aperture for timelapse photography?

daniel_browning

Vancouver, US
31 posts

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daniel_browning Registered since 21st Mar 2012
Mon 02-Apr-12 03:14 PM

How do you lock the aperture on Nikon cameras? Normally the camera stops down the lens only during the exposure. This causes a major problem for timelapse photography because of aperture activation variance: it stops down to a slightly different aperture every time (varying around 1/6 to 1/3 stop), which causes a flicker when the timelapse frame rate is increased for viewing.

I recently switched from Canon, and the method I used there was to select the aperture I wanted and then untwist the lens slightly, which disabled electronic communication while preserving the stopped-down aperture that I wanted. Is there a similar workaround for Nikon?

TonyJ

Boulder, US
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#1. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 0

TonyJ Silver Member Nikonian since 14th Sep 2004
Mon 02-Apr-12 01:30 PM | edited Mon 02-Apr-12 01:32 PM by TonyJ

Why not use manual mode? An older extention tube (pre-autofocus) should work on non "G" lenses. I wouldn't mess with shorting the electrical contacts...

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daniel_browning

Vancouver, US
31 posts

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#2. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 1

daniel_browning Registered since 21st Mar 2012
Tue 03-Apr-12 01:10 AM

Thanks for the response.

>Why not use manual mode?

What does "manual mode" mean? If you are referring to manual exposure mode, I am using that already but it still opens up the lens to the widest aperture after every exposure.

> An older extention tube
>(pre-autofocus) should work on non "G" lenses. I
>wouldn't mess with shorting the electrical contacts...

Thanks, but I wouldn't want to lose infinity focus. Most of my timelapses are in fact focused on infinity (starry night skies).

Arkayem

Richmond Hill, GA (Savannah), US
6131 posts

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#3. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 2

Arkayem Moderator Awarded for his high level skills in flash photography Charter Member
Tue 03-Apr-12 07:34 PM

>If you are referring
>to manual exposure mode, I am using that already but it still
>opens up the lens to the widest aperture after every
>exposure.

I am not a time lapse photography pro, so let me know if I am way off-base.

Are you saying that in camera Manual mode the lens doesn't open to exactly the same f/ stop on each successive frame and you are in camera Manual mode?

Is this a common problem when doing time lapse photography?

If your problem is common in time lapse photography, I have a hard time understanding why, since the aperture has an extremely precise manufacturing/calibration specification on both the camera and lens.

If you are seeing a difference, I wonder if there might be something wrong?

Is one of the aperture leaves in the lens sticking and not moving fully to the selected f/ stop?

Have you tried a different lens?

Russ
Nikonian Team Member
Russell MacDonald Photography
Nikon CLS Practical Guide

daniel_browning

Vancouver, US
31 posts

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#4. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 3

daniel_browning Registered since 21st Mar 2012
Wed 04-Apr-12 11:27 PM

>>If you are referring
>>to manual exposure mode, I am using that already but it
>>still opens up the lens to the widest aperture after
>>every exposure.
>
>I am not a time lapse photography pro, so let me know if I am
>way off-base.

No problem!

>Are you saying that in camera Manual mode the lens doesn't
>open to exactly the same f/ stop on each successive frame and
>you are in camera Manual mode?

Precisely.

>Is this a common problem when doing time lapse photography?

Yes. Another problem that is encountered (less frequently) is that the exposure duration (in M mode) is not exactly the same between every frame (i.e. 1/4000 could actually be 1/3856 one time and 1/4142 the next). But as far as I know there isn't any particular workaround for that (except to use more ND for longer durations since the variance is generally fixed). Personally, I haven't experienced that issue, just the aperture one.

>If your problem is common in time lapse photography, I have a
>hard time understanding why, since the aperture has an
>extremely precise manufacturing/calibration specification on
>both the camera and lens.

In theory, the manufacturers hit the extremely precise specification. In practice, they don't. I know at least that none of my $2000 Canon L lenses did not. For 99.99% of users (i.e. non-timelapse shooters), being off by 1/6 stop isn't really going to make a difference, so I think manufacturers would not be too concerned about it.

>If you are seeing a difference, I wonder if there might be
>something wrong?

Well, there is definitely something wrong in the sense that manufacturing tolerances should be tighter, but if that's too expensive or bothersome I'd be happy with the cheap workaround, which is to allow us to leave the aperture closed all the time. One way to do that would be to change the DOF "preview" from "hold-it-down" to "toggle on and off" -- a pretty simple change I think.

>Is one of the aperture leaves in the lens sticking and not
>moving fully to the selected f/ stop?

Perhaps. I didn't check for that.

>Have you tried a different lens?

Actually, I haven't tried any (on Nikon) yet, but I did try several Canon lenses. If I recall correctly, some were very just fine near wide open (e.g f/3.2, f/3.5) but inaccurate at the very bottom (f/22), while others were the exact opposite (accurate near f/22, but inaccurate near wide open).

Thanks for the help!

gpoole

Farmington Hills, US
4132 posts

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#5. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 0

gpoole Platinum Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Awarded for his very generous support to the Fundrasing Campaing 2014 Writer Ribbon awarded for his article contributions for the Articles library and the eZine Nikonian since 14th Feb 2004
Mon 02-Apr-12 01:41 PM

Daniel

If you have a a camera that will meter with non-cpu lenses and use a lens with a aperture ring, you can use the aperture ring instead of the lens electronics to select the aperture. This creates a mechanical stop for the aperture setting that should be more reliable than the variance is stop down you are describing.

To tell the camera to use the aperture ring instead of the setting from the camera dial turn the "Aperture setting" item in the Custom Settings to off. On the D300 this is CSM f7.

Also you could use a non-cpu lens. Cameras that support non-cpu lenses, will meter properly in A and M exposure modes with those lenses.

Gary in SE Michigan, USA.
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daniel_browning

Vancouver, US
31 posts

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#6. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 5

daniel_browning Registered since 21st Mar 2012
Tue 03-Apr-12 01:23 AM

>To tell the camera to use the aperture ring instead of the
>setting from the camera dial turn the "Aperture
>setting" item in the Custom Settings to off. On the D300
>this is CSM f7.

Thanks for the suggestion, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to work on the D800 (CSM f9). Even with that set, the aperture still opens back up to the widest aperture after every exposure (test with Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8).

Kind regards,

gpoole

Farmington Hills, US
4132 posts

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#7. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 6

gpoole Platinum Member Fellow Ribbon awarded for his excellent and frequent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community in the Nikonians spirit. Awarded for his very generous support to the Fundrasing Campaing 2014 Writer Ribbon awarded for his article contributions for the Articles library and the eZine Nikonian since 14th Feb 2004
Tue 03-Apr-12 01:45 AM

Yes it opens back up between exposure. The difference is that the lens is stopping down to a mechanically controlled aperture instead of an electronically controlled one. My thought is that the mechanical setting my be more repeatable that the electronic one.

Gary in SE Michigan, USA.
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daniel_browning

Vancouver, US
31 posts

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#8. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 7

daniel_browning Registered since 21st Mar 2012
Tue 03-Apr-12 02:19 PM

>My thought is that the mechanical setting my be more repeatable
>that the electronic one.

Ah, I get it now. Thanks for the suggestion.

Robman3

West of Santa Monica, US
1842 posts

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#9. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 0

Robman3 Registered since 12th Apr 2010
Tue 03-Apr-12 02:11 AM | edited Tue 03-Apr-12 02:16 AM by Robman3

Hi Daniel,

Is that a manual focus non-G lens/non-AF lens with an indented iris ring? (two sets of numbers on the barrel)

If so, there is a menu where the wrench is, to give the lens a number and set the camera's CPU to recognize it as lens number 1 through 9 and indicate the maximum aperture.

Not saying this will solve the problem, but it might tell the CPU to leave settings as is when you activate the time lapse in manual mode.

The little in focus light within the VF will still be lit while in focus.

Outside of that, perhaps a ten pin intervalometer which usually overrides all else for TL, at least AFAIKT.

HTH's

Rob

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daniel_browning

Vancouver, US
31 posts

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#10. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 9

daniel_browning Registered since 21st Mar 2012
Tue 03-Apr-12 02:25 PM

>Is that a manual focus non-G lens/non-AF lens with an indented
>iris ring? (two sets of numbers on the barrel)

I have one of those, yes, but I'd prefer to be able to lock the aperture with *any* lens. It's pretty funny when I have to swap out a nice, brand new $2000 Nikkor for an old $80 used lens with tons of aberrations just so I can lock the aperture.

So far I think I'm just going to continue using the old "untwist the lens" workaround. (On Canon, you untwist to a certain point and *boom*, you lose communication all at once. On Nikon, the aperture closes down slowly as you untwist.)

>If so, there is a menu where the wrench is, to give the lens a
>number and set the camera's CPU to recognize it as lens number
>1 through 9 and indicate the maximum aperture.
>
>Not saying this will solve the problem, but it might tell the
>CPU to leave settings as is when you activate the time lapse
>in manual mode.

Thanks for the suggestion. I just tested it and it still opens back up wide even with the internal time lapse mode.

DrGoon

US
36 posts

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#11. "RE: Lock aperture for timelapse photography?" | In response to Reply # 0

DrGoon Registered since 11th Mar 2009
Tue 10-Apr-12 03:10 PM

There's no Nikon 'trick' to prevent aperture flicker that I know of. If you want to use Nikon lenses, you may be better using them on a Canon body with an adapter.

If you want to use a Nikon or Canon body, you'll likely get the best results from acquiring an M42 (Contax S/Praktica/Pentax) lens that doesn't change the aperture between shots and an adapter for that.

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G