Basic Tips for Shooting Video with a DSLR

Since DSLRs are gaining popularity in the video production world, I thought we would share some basic tips for shooting video on a DSLR.

First, you want to adjust your shutter speed. Depending on how you want your video to look, this will vary. Shutter speed is how long the sensor of your camera is exposed to light. First you need to know what frame rate you will be shooting in. For most DSLRs this will be either 24p/25p, 30p, or 50p/60p. If you are shooting at 24p/25p, you want the shutter at 1/48th and 1/50th (of a second). If you are shooting at 30p, you want the shutter to be 1/60th. And if you are shooting at 50p/60p you want 1/100th and 1/120th, respectively. Shooting at 24 frames per second will give you a film look to your footage, if that is the style you want.

Second, you need to adjust your ISO. The ISO changes how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. The higher the ISO, the more sensitve the sensor is. If you are shooting in low-light condistions, you will need to raise your ISO, which will help brighten the image. A rule of thumb for ISO is to keep it as low as possible because when you raise the ISO, you begin to see a digital noise in the footage. Often times certain ISOs create more noise than others. These ISO settings are good to avoid: 125, 250, 500, and 1000.

Third, you need to set your white balance. White balance is the process of capturing the correct colors for the available light you have. If you don’t set the white balance, your footage just won’t look right because the colors will be off. Most DSLRs will have white balance presets, but if your camera has a manual Kelvin white balance, you will want to use that. Presets will do a pretty good job, but adjusting the white balance yourself will be more accurate. When shooting outside, start at a white balance of 5200K. This is usually the temperature of sunlight, and you can tweak it, if needed. If shooting indoors under tungsten light, start at 3200K. This is the normal temperature of tungsten bulbs. Most bulbs are not completely color accurate though, so you will want to adjust it based on the light that is around you.

As with all video tips, these are just starting points. Tweaking the rules is how you can develop the exact look you want for your video project, but these are good places to start.

 Have you found any of these tips helpful in your video production? Let us know in the comments section!

Derek DeStefano 
Assistant Video Producer

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