E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

Started Jul 12, 2012 | Discussions
Timur Born
Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

This was taken out of another thread where it would be off-topic and quickly get lost for those people who might be interested in rattlesnaking/chatter/aperture dance.

Anders W wrote:

Timur! If you have experimented with the chatter, it'd be nice if you could summarize in some pretty systematic fashion when this happens and not. I still don't have a clear view about that, only some loose indications.

I only own the 12-50 and 45/1.8, but for those two the chatter/rattlesnaking/aperture dance behavior of the E-M5 is rather clear and reproducible. Basically there are situations where the camera switches completely to rattlesnaking mode (aperture closing dynamically depending on brightness and EC settings).

From there you need to differentiate Movie mode (especially with recording stopped) from Stills modes (PASM).

Movie Mode

  • P and S settings always uses rattlesnaking mode, with fast changes of aperture when video recording is stopped and slow changes when video recording is active.

Exposure compensation preview is done by a combination of aperture and curves. Negative EC will close down the aperture, but going from negative back up to 0 or positive will not necessarily open up the aperture all the way again, until you (half)press the shutter.

  • A and M setting never use rattlesnaking mode, instead aperture is fixed exactly to the one the user sets up manually. Even for stills shooting (which is possible in Movie mode) this has the big advantage of getting a live DOF preview without having to hold down any buttons! Additionally you can improve face detection by dialing in a deeper DOF that way. Exposure compensation preview is completely done via curves, too.

  • During video recording any aperture changes happen only very slowly, which means that exposure changes also happen slowly. This makes aperture changes inaudible.

  • Focusing always is done using a wide open aperture when recording is stopped, but done at the currently active aperture when recording is running.

  • AEL (exposure lock) will keep the aperture from changing, unless you dial in negative exposure compensation.

  • Switching away from Movie mode to any stills mode also switches off rattlesnaking (unless you already had it in a Still mode before).

Stills modes (PASM)

  • Stills mode normally do not rattlesnake/chatter/aperture dance and exposure compensation preview normally done by curves only.

  • Pointing the camera towards a flickering light source, especially incandescent light bulbs (50 Hz here) will switch the E-M5 to rattlesnaking mode reproducibly and permanently until you switch off the camera. This may happen after something like only 2 seconds (light bulb) to several more seconds (quickly changing highlights and shadows inside the frame). I once made it switch by quickly wavering my hand in front of the lens, but it's not that easy usually.

Exposure compensation preview is done by a combination of aperture and curves. Negative EC will close down the aperture, but going from negative back up to 0 or positive will not necessarily open up the aperture all the way again, until you (half)press the shutter.

  • It doesn't matter which PASM mode you are using, but DOF preview (via Fn button) overrides the rattlesnaking.

  • AEL (exposure lock) will keep the aperture from changing, unless you dial in negative exposure compensation.

  • Focusing always is done using a wide open aperture.

You might well be right that it happens on some lenses although too quietly to be heard unless you are in quiet surroundings and pay attention. I think all my Pany lenses are indeed audible when they do it. But I am not yet sure about the Olys.

The 45/1.8 is very audible (as is my Fuji X10 btw, which always does it) and also very visible, the 12-50 is hardly audible at all, mostly because of its smaller wide open aperture and solid build (I'd say).

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Lotus Cat Forum Pro • Posts: 10,642
complicated

Thanks for the details. I get the feeling ( my opinion only ) that the behavior is just too complicated to account for it during normal shooting. My 45mm f/1.8 and 25mm f/1.4 both rattlesnake and, once I realized it is normal, I ignore it completely; it does not bother me.

In your opinion, is there any photographic or mechanical reason I should pay attention to the rattlesnaking if the noise does not annoy me? Just curious.

Jim Pilcher
Summit County, Colorado, USA

Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: complicated

It doesn't have any impact on your final images other than impacting Live View slightly (and thus histogram and blinkies if you use those).

The main drawback of Rattlesnaking apart from noise is that a closed down aperture needs to open up again for auto-focusing, which in turn takes time and thus slightly slows down auto-focus.

The main advantage of Rattlesnaking is that in bright light it provides a deeper depth of field for Live View and thus for Face Detection and Tracking due to closed down aperture. This makes both a bit more reliable.

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kenw
kenw Veteran Member • Posts: 6,670
Thanks Timur!

I played with the rattlesnaking a bit when I first got the camera and it appeared to be somewhat systematic and somewhat random. I presumed "random" just meant complicated interactions, which from your post seems to be a big part of it.

Good discovery on the negative exposure compensation. That seems to be a very reliable way for me to get it to rattle-snake if I've got bright light around.

Anyway, thanks for the detailed post describing your findings. Hasn't been an issue for me so far, but if I get into a situation where it is bugging me I'll be coming back to this post!
--
Ken W
See profile for equipment list

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Brian Caslis
Brian Caslis Senior Member • Posts: 2,948
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

I can't say I would agree with this summary. I haven't used video mode, but for stills, I've never been able to get the 45mm or 12-50mm Olympus lenses to rattlesnake. The Panasonic 25mm f1.4 would however rattlesnake all the time.

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Anders W
Anders W Forum Pro • Posts: 22,144
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

Timur Born wrote:

This was taken out of another thread where it would be off-topic and quickly get lost for those people who might be interested in rattlesnaking/chatter/aperture dance.

Anders W wrote:

Timur! If you have experimented with the chatter, it'd be nice if you could summarize in some pretty systematic fashion when this happens and not. I still don't have a clear view about that, only some loose indications.

I only own the 12-50 and 45/1.8, but for those two the chatter/rattlesnaking/aperture dance behavior of the E-M5 is rather clear and reproducible. Basically there are situations where the camera switches completely to rattlesnaking mode (aperture closing dynamically depending on brightness and EC settings).

From there you need to differentiate Movie mode (especially with recording stopped) from Stills modes (PASM).

Movie Mode

  • P and S settings always uses rattlesnaking mode, with fast changes of aperture when video recording is stopped and slow changes when video recording is active.

Exposure compensation preview is done by a combination of aperture and curves. Negative EC will close down the aperture, but going from negative back up to 0 or positive will not necessarily open up the aperture all the way again, until you (half)press the shutter.

  • A and M setting never use rattlesnaking mode, instead aperture is fixed exactly to the one the user sets up manually. Even for stills shooting (which is possible in Movie mode) this has the big advantage of getting a live DOF preview without having to hold down any buttons! Additionally you can improve face detection by dialing in a deeper DOF that way. Exposure compensation preview is completely done via curves, too.

  • During video recording any aperture changes happen only very slowly, which means that exposure changes also happen slowly. This makes aperture changes inaudible.

  • Focusing always is done using a wide open aperture when recording is stopped, but done at the currently active aperture when recording is running.

  • AEL (exposure lock) will keep the aperture from changing, unless you dial in negative exposure compensation.

  • Switching away from Movie mode to any stills mode also switches off rattlesnaking (unless you already had it in a Still mode before).

Stills modes (PASM)

  • Stills mode normally do not rattlesnake/chatter/aperture dance and exposure compensation preview normally done by curves only.

  • Pointing the camera towards a flickering light source, especially incandescent light bulbs (50 Hz here) will switch the E-M5 to rattlesnaking mode reproducibly and permanently until you switch off the camera. This may happen after something like only 2 seconds (light bulb) to several more seconds (quickly changing highlights and shadows inside the frame). I once made it switch by quickly wavering my hand in front of the lens, but it's not that easy usually.

Exposure compensation preview is done by a combination of aperture and curves. Negative EC will close down the aperture, but going from negative back up to 0 or positive will not necessarily open up the aperture all the way again, until you (half)press the shutter.

  • It doesn't matter which PASM mode you are using, but DOF preview (via Fn button) overrides the rattlesnaking.

  • AEL (exposure lock) will keep the aperture from changing, unless you dial in negative exposure compensation.

  • Focusing always is done using a wide open aperture.

You might well be right that it happens on some lenses although too quietly to be heard unless you are in quiet surroundings and pay attention. I think all my Pany lenses are indeed audible when they do it. But I am not yet sure about the Olys.

The 45/1.8 is very audible (as is my Fuji X10 btw, which always does it) and also very visible, the 12-50 is hardly audible at all, mostly because of its smaller wide open aperture and solid build (I'd say).

Many thanks for taking the trouble to summarize this in a systematic fashion Timur! Obviously, it was also the right thing to do it in a separate thread rather than in the one where I asked you to do it but where it was off topic.

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dcassat
dcassat Senior Member • Posts: 1,276
Good Resource

Thanks for taking the time to assemble all of the fractious elements to make it a cohesive presentation.

Definitely one to bookmark.

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Dan

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TrapperJohn Forum Pro • Posts: 16,488
What about lack of rattlesnaking?

I've had the EM5 since April, 2000+ shots since I got it. Have been through these auto exposure capable lenses:

ZD 7-14
MZD 12-50
MZD 14-42
ZD 14-54
MZD 14-150
PL25 (4/3 version)
MZD 45 1.8
ZD 50 Macro
ZD 50-200

I'm almost always in A or M mode. Have shot portraits, landscapes, indoors with and without flash, nature, architecture, action, astro, and a bit of candid/street. Typically am running about -.5 to -.8EV on exposure comp, though I do tend to change it a lot.

And I've never heard anything that even remotely resembles rattlesnaking, or a rapidly changing aperture. Just has not happened. The only sound I hear is the hiss from the IS, and it's not particularly noticable unless I'm in a quiet room.

Is this prevalent in movie mode? (which I don't use, video isn't my thing)

I'm not doubting that you've experienced it, just curious as to why I haven't. Whatever I'm doing, I want to keep on doing it.

Len_Gee
Len_Gee Veteran Member • Posts: 9,880
Re: lack of rattlesnaking

For those who have never heard it on the OMD:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnVuYfVYUsU

Don't know if rattlesnaking makes your pics blurry, but I don't see any that are. Maybe the lenses you shoot with are immune to that problem?

You have stunning pics with the lenses you have and OMD.

Regards

TrapperJohn wrote:

I've had the EM5 since April, 2000+ shots since I got it. Have been through these auto exposure capable lenses:

ZD 7-14
MZD 12-50
MZD 14-42
ZD 14-54
MZD 14-150
PL25 (4/3 version)
MZD 45 1.8
ZD 50 Macro
ZD 50-200

I'm almost always in A or M mode. Have shot portraits, landscapes, indoors with and without flash, nature, architecture, action, astro, and a bit of candid/street. Typically am running about -.5 to -.8EV on exposure comp, though I do tend to change it a lot.

And I've never heard anything that even remotely resembles rattlesnaking, or a rapidly changing aperture. Just has not happened. The only sound I hear is the hiss from the IS, and it's not particularly noticable unless I'm in a quiet room.

Is this prevalent in movie mode? (which I don't use, video isn't my thing)

I'm not doubting that you've experienced it, just curious as to why I haven't. Whatever I'm doing, I want to keep on doing it.

-

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acahaya
acahaya Senior Member • Posts: 1,174
Re: What about lack of rattlesnaking?

Either you and i and a few others are living in a parallel universe where most of the issues discussed here simply do not apply or we are more concentrated on shooting whatever we are shooting than "testing" the cam and lenses under various conditions. Thanks to those on the forum actually doing the testing for me, not my cup of tea.

Having said that, i read another explanation for the rattlesnaking of the 25/1.4 somewhe but unfortunately can't remember what it was about, it was somehow related to the E-M5 being to fast for some lenses.

My own 25/1.4 rattlesnakes rarely, might be related to the way i'm using it the kind of pics i take.

I have not experienced rattlesnaking with my 12-50 and my 40/1.8 or simply never noticed it.

Kudos to Timur for the very good explanation of what actually happens and how to avoid it if possible.
--
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Jonas B Forum Pro • Posts: 14,596
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

Timur Born wrote:

(...)
Stills modes (PASM)

  • Stills mode normally do not rattlesnake/chatter/aperture dance and exposure compensation preview normally done by curves only.

  • Pointing the camera towards a flickering light source, especially incandescent light bulbs (50 Hz here) will switch the E-M5 to rattlesnaking mode reproducibly and permanently until you switch off the camera. This may happen after something like only 2 seconds (light bulb) to several more seconds (quickly changing highlights and shadows inside the frame). I once made it switch by quickly wavering my hand in front of the lens, but it's not that easy usually.

Exposure compensation preview is done by a combination of aperture and curves. Negative EC will close down the aperture, but going from negative back up to 0 or positive will not necessarily open up the aperture all the way again, until you (half)press the shutter.

  • It doesn't matter which PASM mode you are using, but DOF preview (via Fn button) overrides the rattlesnaking.

  • AEL (exposure lock) will keep the aperture from changing, unless you dial in negative exposure compensation.

  • Focusing always is done using a wide open aperture.

With my E-M5 and my PLµ25 I have found that you can easily get into rattlesnaking if turning the camera on in the dark (like indoors) and then point it against something considerably brighter (towards a window). If instead turning the camera on pointing it at the light it usually stays silent.

While not a biggie for me I still wish I had Trapper John's copy instead...

Jonas

Lotus Cat Forum Pro • Posts: 10,642
45mm f/1.8 rattlesnake

Brian Caslis wrote:

I can't say I would agree with this summary. I haven't used video mode, but for stills, I've never been able to get the 45mm or 12-50mm Olympus lenses to rattlesnake. The Panasonic 25mm f1.4 would however rattlesnake all the time.

My µ4/3 Leica 25mm f/1.4 is rather noisy when it rattlesnakes. My Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 rattlesnakes at times, but is very quiet when doing so. Many owners might not even notice it. Olympus obviously designed the iris diaphragm differently than did Panasonic.

Jim Pilcher
Bonita Springs, Florida, USA

efg40
efg40 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,193
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

My 14mm Panasonic lens rattlesnakes something fierce on my E-PL1, but not at all on my E-M5.

It bothered me a lot, because it's pretty constant on the E-PL1. But when I took it on a trip a few days ago I found I didn't even notice it. I suppose if I were in a very quiet environment it would be a problem though, so I wish there were something I could do.

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Elizabeth
efg40

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Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

I likely stumbled on the real mechanics of how Live View exposure compensation (for the screen and AF) is done and why the camera sometimes switches to "Rattlesnaking" mode.

It seems that on-screen exposure compensation is not done via curves, but via different electronic shutter intervals similar to how pulse-width modulation works for dimming computer monitor brightness. I can make that very visible by turning down the screen exposure while pointing at a flickering light source (like my flickering 30" display).

Depending on the E-M5's screen exposure it introduces strong flickering with dark lines scrolling down at a speed and line width depending on current compensation settings or brightness of the area pointed to. The down direction means to towards the lower part of the E-M5 screen, independent of how the camera is held (landscape, portrait, upside down).

At one point this flickering can get so bad that it's not only ugly to look at, but also affect "Full Time AF" focus operation, and maybe also AF-C. I assume that this is the reason why the E-M5 switches to "Rattlesnaking" mode in such situations in order to close down the aperture against bright (and potentially flickering) light sources and thus having no need to turn the screen down to flickering. "Fast" Frame Rate never turns to "Rattlesnaking", but it also turns off "Full Time AF" automatically. There might be some connection. emoticon - wink

If the camera is pointed towards a dark area or screen exposure is turned up the on-screen flickering of the E-M5 may stop completely, but this depends on the light source you are pointing at (+0.7 EV for my computer display, but a 50 Hz incandescent bulb flickers all the way up to +3 EV here).

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3DrJ Senior Member • Posts: 1,027
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

Timur Born wrote:

I likely stumbled on the real mechanics of how Live View exposure compensation (for the screen and AF) is done and why the camera sometimes switches to "Rattlesnaking" mode.

It seems that on-screen exposure compensation is not done via curves, but via different electronic shutter intervals similar to how pulse-width modulation works for dimming computer monitor brightness. I can make that very visible by turning down the screen exposure while pointing at a flickering light source (like my flickering 30" display).

Depending on the E-M5's screen exposure it introduces strong flickering with dark lines scrolling down at a speed and line width depending on current compensation settings or brightness of the area pointed to. The down direction means to towards the lower part of the E-M5 screen, independent of how the camera is held (landscape, portrait, upside down).

I encountered similar behavior recently when using the EM-5 on a copy rail (photographing art work for reproduction). The camera was in fixed position, and IS off. I was using a manual lens. The main light source for the subject was slave flash triggered by the plug-in flash. There were old fluorescent lamps in the ceiling fixtures.

Initially the fluorescents were on. The camera's monitor showed the scrolling horizontal bands as you described. When the overhead fluorescents were off, the bands diminished. (There were still some fluorescent lamps on in an adjacent room.)

Of course, since the lens was manual there wasn't any rattlesnaking.

The peculiar thing was that on close inspection of the recorded images, there were thin, vertical cyan lines throughout the darker areas of the image. These lines were not visible in photos taken when the overhead fluorescents were turned off. I'm guessing the abnormal image effect was related to an effect of the ambient fluorescent lighting.

Our AC is 60 Hz. It may be significant that some of the fluorescent lamps in the overhead fixtures were old and "flickery", and the flickering may have contributed to the image defect.

If it would be of any use, I'll see if I retained any of the images with the above defect. I can't do that right now as I'm away from home and don't have access to the set of files that might contain them.

At one point this flickering can get so bad that it's not only ugly to look at, but also affect "Full Time AF" focus operation, and maybe also AF-C. I assume that this is the reason why the E-M5 switches to "Rattlesnaking" mode in such situations in order to close down the aperture against bright (and potentially flickering) light sources and thus having no need to turn the screen down to flickering. "Fast" Frame Rate never turns to "Rattlesnaking", but it also turns off "Full Time AF" automatically. There might be some connection. emoticon - wink

If the camera is pointed towards a dark area or screen exposure is turned up the on-screen flickering of the E-M5 may stop completely, but this depends on the light source you are pointing at (+0.7 EV for my computer display, but a 50 Hz incandescent bulb flickers all the way up to +3 EV here).

At times, I have noticed the aperture rattling with the 45mm, but I've not been able to pin down exactly when it happens. Listening more closely, I may be able to catch when it is occurring.

JRA

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Artists must not only see, but see what they are seeing.

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Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

Just hold the 45/1.8 close towards an incandescent light bulb and it should turn the E-M5 to "Rattlesnaking" mode (until turned off). That happens within seconds with 50 Hz bulbs and I guess it happens just the same with 60 Hz ones. Your current setting of exposure compensation might make a difference.

Like mentioned "High" Frame Rate always keeps the camera from going into Rattlesnake, but I just found out that it does not help to get out of RS (still have to turn off the cam for that to happen).

RS does not completely cure flickering either! But by closing down the aperture it helps to considerably improve it. You can do the same manually by choosing a small aperture and then use the DOF preview function.

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Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

3DrJ wrote:

The peculiar thing was that on close inspection of the recorded images, there were thin, vertical cyan lines throughout the darker areas of the image. These lines were not visible in photos taken when the overhead fluorescents were turned off. I'm guessing the abnormal image effect was related to an effect of the ambient fluorescent lighting.

In such cases you should try to fire several shots in a row. The pattern and visibility of these dark shadow lines (even at base ISO) varies in time. I only encountered them after considerably pushing shadows in post-processing, though, and am not sure if yours are the same as mine (no specific cyan here).

Especially compare the white door on the right side between these two shots.

If possible please provide a RAW file of your example, because I found that my kind of lines is emphasized by applying the color noise filter in LR4.

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Timur Born
OP Timur Born Veteran Member • Posts: 4,972
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

Could someone with a Panasonic 25/1.4 please check if using "High" frame-rate keeps the E-M5 from switching to "Rattlesnaking"?!

Make sure to turn the camera off and on again after switching the frame-rate.

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kenw
kenw Veteran Member • Posts: 6,670
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

Hi Timur,

I attempted to test but was unable to get my 25/1.4 to rattlesnake in any stills mode at all. Are you interested in the results for movie mode (not recording)? That's the only way I can usually provoke it. I occasionally can with stills, but no luck today.

Also, I'm a bit confused by your assertion that incandescent bulbs can provoke it. In my experience, including using high speed photodiodes, there is almost no flicker at all with incandescent bulbs - the thermal mass of the filament is too high for the light level to respond to the mains frequency. Now, if what you have instead are compact florescent bulbs meant to replace incandescent bulbs then I'd expect flicker.

I've pointed my camera at incandescent bulbs and never been able to get rattlesnaking to occur in stills mode nor can I see any banding in liveview. Pointing at a florescent on the other hand and liveview banding is extremely obvious.

Thanks again for all your work on exploring and explaining this issue!

Timur Born wrote:

Could someone with a Panasonic 25/1.4 please check if using "High" frame-rate keeps the E-M5 from switching to "Rattlesnaking"?!

Make sure to turn the camera off and on again after switching the frame-rate.

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Ken W
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Tdon123 Forum Member • Posts: 60
Re: E-M5: Rattlesnaking explained

Timur Born wrote:

Could someone with a Panasonic 25/1.4 please check if using "High" frame-rate keeps the E-M5 from switching to "Rattlesnaking"?!

Make sure to turn the camera off and on again after switching the frame-rate.

Timur;

I just received my replacement 75 f1.8 and it immediately began the "rattlesnake"chatter. However. I switched the frame rate to High, as you suggested and then turning the camera off and on.

The "rattlesnaking" ceased immediately and I did this procedure several times....no issue as it solves the problem.

However, what's the limitations of working in the High frame rate?

And the oddity is that I have never had any "rattlesnaking" with my 45f1.8 or my 12f2 lenses. Overall, a disconcerting symptom and so random per different lenses.

TomD

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