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View Full Version : Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis Shot on Epic or Dragon...Has anyone done it



Paul E. McCarthy
10-27-2014, 03:24 AM
Hi,

I have a gig in Iceland in December and I was wondering if anyone has any experience shooting the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis with an Epic MX or Dragon.

I would really appreciate any advice in nailing this.

Peace


Paul

Lauri Kettunen
10-27-2014, 04:06 AM
Well, it's like Sean Connory says in the Entrapment movie "it's doable" but not the most practical approach. In fact, requires quite a lot of work to squeeze water out of a stone. Here's what to try: Put the low-light OLPF to Dragon, and set the slowest fps 1frame/second and exposure time to 1s (or 360 degrees). In post set ISO to the lowest value giving you an image of the Northern lights. Then add say about 10 frames to each other, and finally use some noise reduction to clean the footage.

I haven't tried yet the low-light OLPF of Dragon, but with Epic this approach means quite a lot of work compared to shooting a time-lapse with any modern DSLR. Furthermore, it's difficult to come up a footage whose quality were comparable to such a timelapse.

Paul E. McCarthy
10-27-2014, 05:26 AM
So you are saying there is no way to shoot the northern lights at 23.98

Dunkan Wolf
10-27-2014, 06:53 AM
You're much better off with a Sony a7s when shooting real-time Aurora's combined with some large aperature lens like the SLRMagic 50mm t0.95. Even then it'll be barely visible.

Dragon won't see a thing unless you drop the FPS below 4

Michael Tiemann
10-27-2014, 08:14 AM
You're much better off with a Sony a7s when shooting real-time Aurora's combined with some large aperature lens like the SLRMagic 50mm t0.95. Even then it'll be barely visible.

Dragon won't see a thing unless you drop the FPS below 4

Moreover, the Northern Lights move at about the speed of cloud formations, meaning that at 24fps the glow you can't see won't be perceived as moving, either. The Northern Lights is a time-lapse event.

Paul E. McCarthy
10-27-2014, 09:41 AM
I assumed all this, Thanks for all the help. I think Ill try to shoot horizontal split screen lock off for wide and comp a timelapse top frame with a 23.98 bottom frame.

Jeffrey Loewe
10-27-2014, 10:32 AM
Hi,

I have a gig in Iceland in December and I was wondering if anyone has any experience shooting the Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis with an Epic MX or Dragon.

I would really appreciate any advice in nailing this.

Peace


Paul
I was there in April this year. Saw them twice. Same in Norway, saw them two times.

You really need some form of a long exposure setting to really achieve it. At the same time you don't want it to be to long just incase the event doesn't last long. In my experience the MX footage was unusable and you could barely see it even when using Frame Summing. In my case even with black shading there was way to much sensor noise.

If I were you I'd take a DSLR even if you rent one to get time lapses or footage you need of the Northern Lights. I took a 1DC on both trips thankfully. It worked wonders and saved me from completely missing it. Just curious where will you be in Iceland? I can give you some cool spots to check out!

With all of this said I'd be a huge advocate of RED putting more into some sort of time-lapse feature with a long exposure that got usable and clean results. I haven't tried it with the Dragon so maybe it's doable. I'll have a good idea if it is this winter.

scott devitte
10-27-2014, 11:24 AM
I was there in April this year. Saw them twice. Same in Norway, saw them two times.

You really need some form of a long exposure setting to really achieve it. At the same time you don't want it to be to long just incase the event doesn't last long. In my experience the MX footage was unusable and you could barely see it even when using Frame Summing. In my case even with black shading there was way to much sensor noise.

If I were you I'd take a DSLR even if you rent one to get time lapses or footage you need of the Northern Lights. I took a 1DC on both trips thankfully. It worked wonders and saved me from completely missing it. Just curious where will you be in Iceland? I can give you some cool spots to check out!

With all of this said I'd be a huge advocate of RED putting more into some sort of time-lapse feature with a long exposure that got usable and clean results. I haven't tried it with the Dragon so maybe it's doable. I'll have a good idea if it is this winter.

Everybody who travels with a Red with EF mount should carry a 1DC- an incredibly versatile, abusable, low light machine, even if just to get glamour shots of your Red in action.

Jeffrey Loewe
10-27-2014, 11:43 AM
Everybody who travels with a Red with EF mount should carry a 1DC- an incredibly versatile, abusable, low light machine, even if just to get glamour shots of your Red in action.
A bit expensive for just that purpose haha. But yes it is a good camera to deploy for various reasons. Mine is usually lowlight footage and time lapses.

Eric Hines
10-27-2014, 12:29 PM
Moreover, the Northern Lights move at about the speed of cloud formations, meaning that at 24fps the glow you can't see won't be perceived as moving, either. The Northern Lights is a time-lapse event.

You can definitely see movement in aurora in realtime. I recommend the A7s for something like this.


https://vimeo.com/109389599 (https://vimeo.com/109389599)

Lauri Kettunen
10-27-2014, 01:14 PM
So you are saying there is no way to shoot the northern lights at 23.98

Yes

Russ Fill
10-27-2014, 05:07 PM
I agree with using a DSLR but I have been thinking about getting some northern lights also...Maybe,,,2 words Frame Summing.. I have had some success using Frame Summing for some really nice night cloud movement in very dark situations... Might want to try it with some clouds at night and see what you have to do with noise reduction.... And don't forget to Black shade at these settings...
Summing maybe 4 or 6 frames depends on how bright a night..

Jeffrey Loewe
10-27-2014, 08:35 PM
I agree with using a DSLR but I have been thinking about getting some northern lights also...Maybe,,,2 words Frame Summing.. I have had some success using Frame Summing for some really nice night cloud movement in very dark situations... Might want to try it with some clouds at night and see what you have to do with noise reduction.... And don't forget to Black shade at these settings...
Summing maybe 4 or 6 frames depends on how bright a night..
I have tried this. It was largely unsuccessful. GoPro managed to get a decent long exposure in there 4. I doubt it's on RED's priority list but it'd be pretty cool if it's something they looked into.

Lauri Kettunen
10-27-2014, 11:28 PM
I have tried this. It was largely unsuccessful.

Agree with Jeffrey. If within the camera frame summing of raws shot with slowest fps (1fps in Dragon) was possible, then the situation would be different. As others say Sony A7s, or the new Samsung NX1 is much better choice for the job.