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Old Oct 18, 2011, 9:45 PM   #1
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Default How do I photograph a TV/Monitor?

Okay, I've been trying to take some photographs/videos with my Canon T2i and I can't seem to get it to even look decent.

Here are my problems:

1.) I can't focus! When I focus like I usually do, the image is over-run by the borders of the pixels. It looks like something out of the Matrix, or just a poorly shot screen. So, I have to focus out a bit and then the image is blurry.
2.) The colors! Everything is at least twice as contrasted as is in real life. No setting on my camera changes this.
3.) The banding. Even while shooting photos, I can't get the bars to not be seen. It looks best at 1/15 or under, but even then it's never fully gone. It's always obvious that it is a photo of a screen. And in video, I'm stuck at 1/30 minimum, so it never goes away.
4.) Dynamic contrast on cameras is a thousandfold poorer than the human eye, and I am aware of that, but I can't seem to get two items of varying luminance to appear on the screen.

My specialty is landscape, portraits and macro, so I'm very new to this.
My biggest gripe with photography is the inability to take a photo that mirror what I see with my own eyes. And with video, I distinctly recall it being possible to have a TV in complete focus and looking just as in real life, in various movies I've seen.
And yet, I can't do it in any way shape or form.

Any help will be appreciated!
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Old Oct 19, 2011, 3:10 AM   #2
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Images on TVs and monitors are generated over a span of time, so the shutter speed must be long enough to capture the entire image as it is being generated. In addition, TVs and monitors have "persistance" that preserves the image after it's been generated, but that allows the image to fade so that the next image can take its place. All this happens faster than your eyes can see, but slower than most shutter speeds. Also, the television or monitor is a light source, while the surrounding furnishings are not, so the television will always appear brighter than everything around it.

Almost universally, the the images that appear on a television or monitor in movies or TV are added to the image or video in post processing.

For best results, you might try the tips here:

  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
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Old Oct 19, 2011, 4:20 AM   #3
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On an old CRT type tube set- you'll need something like 1/20th of a sec shutter speed-and adjust the aperture accordingly for correct exposure. Manual focusing will be necessary too. I'm not sure what speed you can get away with on an LCD/plasma set- as I haven't got one...lol

On my computers LCD monitor,I can use whatever shutter speed I like.....!

Last edited by SIMON40; Oct 19, 2011 at 4:22 AM.
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Old Oct 19, 2011, 1:40 PM   #4
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For stills, the shutter opening needs to be twice as long as the reciprocal of the frame rate, so 1/15th second should work (where the frame rate is 30fps - North America and other parts where 60Hz electicity is used.) This allows two full frames, and should eliminate the black bar. If it's not enough, you may have to double the time again. I don't have experience with doing this on progressive scan signals, but for interlaced TV, this has worked.
Focus is a problem, if you are trying to get a full screen image on a still. Digital cameras will give you a very nice image of the shadow mask on a crt set, or the pixels on LCD. You do need to defocus a bit. TV images are not really sharp anyway - as you will find if taking a still frame from any video.
For the color problem, you will have to adjust the color on the TV down considerably from the way it is normally set, and lower the contrast as well. I can hardly stand to watch other peoples' TVs, or the ones in store demos, because they always have the color an contrast set way too high. (used to do TV repair work, and would set them up correctly when they left the shop - if I saw the same set again, it had the color and contrast cranked up)
To shoot video of video, without the black bar moving through the screen, you will need a very complicated setup to sync the signals, or use a slower frame rate. 15fps has worked for me. If you don't have that available, I think you're out of luck.

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