Choosing between NTSC & PAL when shooting with a DSLR to prevent light flicker

I've just came back from a holiday trip at Malacca, Malaysia.

Recently, I've bought a Panasonic GH4 so I've decided to shoot mainly video for this trip. If the video thing doesn't work out, I can still grab the 4K still images.

With the GH4, you get to choose between shooting it as a NTSC and PAL system. NTSC and PAL are colour encoding systems for analogue television. A country might use one or the other.

When you choose NTSC with the GH4, it allows you to shoot at 30FPS and 60FPS. For PAL, that's 25FPS and 50FPS.

It's important to choose the correct setting and frame rate when you're out shooting to prevent light flicker.

How light from electric sources works

Light sources are illuminated using high frequency pulses of light. The frequency is affected by the power source of the country. Common power sources in Europe and Asia are 50Hz and in USA it's 60Hz.

There are two ways to prevent light flickers in your video.

1. Match the frame rate at a factor to the frequency of the power source. E.g. In Asia, you should be using 25FPS or 50FPS for shooting.

2. Match the shutter speed at a factor to the frequency of the power source. So you should be using 25FPS, 50FPS, 100FPS and so on. If you choose this option, be aware that you may introduce motion blur if the shutter speed is set too low.

Unfortunately for me, I did not know that before and so you'll see that some of the lights in my video are flickering. I was shooting 60 FPS in the land of PAL.

I shot the video in 4K with the Panasonic 12-32mm lens. Most are shot with the camera on the tripod while some are handheld.

Video quality on the GH4 is amazing.