Getting started with shooting video on your DSLR or ILCS


Photography and video used to feel worlds apart, however that's changing and we're rapidly seeing a convergence of the two. Most stills cameras now are also highly capable video cameras, with many offering 4K video, high frame rates and more. If you haven't already dipped your toes into the world of video, now would be a good time to start!

Here at Triggertrap we produce a fair number of videos, so here's our list of things to watch out for when getting stuck into shooting video.

1. Frame Rates

The frame rate refers to how many frames are captured per second, or played back at this speed.

Your camera will probably offer a multitude of different frame rates, so how do you pick the correct one? There are three key frame rates you’ll need to know about, 24, 25 and 30 fps (frames per second). These are the standard frame rates; 25 fps is used in PAL regions, 30 in the USA, and 24 is often used in cinema.

You’ll probably want to stick to the frame rate that is suitable for the region you’re in, but with that said, with most video content being shared on the web it doesn’t make a huge difference. If you’d like to get a  more ‘cinema’ feel to your footage than you’ll want to use 24 fps.

Your camera may also offer options such as 48, 50, and 60 fps, these take twice as many stills than the standard frame rate which means the footage can be slowed down and played back at the standard frame rate and therefore allowing some slow-mo footage. If you’re lucky enough to have 100, 120, or even 240 fps you can really slow things down!

2. Resolution

It’s needless to say that you’ll probably want to shoot at the best resolution available to you, just be aware, if you’re shooting in 4K, you’re going to end up with a lot of data to deal with. 1080P (HD) will probably suffice for most things!

The scale of 1080 (HD) compared to 4K (UHD). Shooting in higher resolutions results in much more data.

The scale of 1080 (HD) compared to 4K (UHD). Shooting in higher resolutions results in much more data.

3. Shutter Speed

Once you’ve picked your frame rate, you’ll have the base of how to set the shutter speed. In stills photography we typically try to avoid any sort of motion blur, however within video this isn’t the case. Some blur adds a more natural feel to your footage, you can obtain the right amount of blur by using something know as a 180 degree shutter angle. This dates back to days of film cameras using a rotary shutter (learn more here). You can replicate this by setting your shutter speed to double the frame rate, for example if you’re using 25 fps you’ll want to set your shutter to 1/50s; 30 fps and you’ll want to set 1/60s; if you’re using 24 fps, you’d ideally want to set 1/48s but this isn’t possible, so go for 1/50s.

Captured at 25fps. 1/50s represents a 180 degree shutter angle and the motion looks natural and fluid. At 1/1000s the motion looks unnatural and jarring. Excuse the uninspiring clip! 

4. Exposure

With video, your shutter speed is set as above. To control the exposure you’ll need to adjust the ISO and aperture. Remember a high ISO will result in a noisy image. If you’re trying to get a shallow depth of field and you’re shooting in daylight you might struggle to get a good exposure; to prevent over-exposure, you’ll need to add a neutral density filter. Getting the exposure dead on is really important with video as the files are much less forgiving than shooting RAW stills, or even JPEG.

5. White Balance

Setting the white balance manually is key with video, the last thing you want is inconsistent white balance across clips or changing white balance throughout the shot. Simply choose a preset white balance or dial in the correct white balance under the Kelvin setting.

6. Picture Control/Style

The name varies between brands, but setting the picture control/style controls the way the camera processes the video, this is really important for video as you have less room for editing the exposure and colours in post processing, so getting the settings right in camera can go a long way towards getting better footage.

For maximum flexibility use a flat picture style and add contrast back in when you’re editing. If you’re looking for an easier workflow, simply use the neutral profile.

Flat picture style: Notice how the low contrast image seems to retain loads of detail in the highlights and the shadows. This allows much more room for adjustment in post processing / grading but won't look so good straight out of the camera.

Flat picture style: Notice how the low contrast image seems to retain loads of detail in the highlights and the shadows. This allows much more room for adjustment in post processing / grading but won't look so good straight out of the camera.

Landscape picture style: There's a lot more contrast when using this picture style, this can cause a problem if you need to try and adjust the exposure later on. The one benefit of this is that the final image may need less or no grading in post if you nail the exposure.

Landscape picture style: There's a lot more contrast when using this picture style, this can cause a problem if you need to try and adjust the exposure later on. The one benefit of this is that the final image may need less or no grading in post if you nail the exposure.

7. Sound

Good sound can make or break video. The onboard microphones on cameras are typically terrible so to get better audio, try adding a microphone. There are a number of great on camera options such as the Rode Video Mic Pro, if you’re willing to try syncing up the audio after, something as simple as using a smartphone to record the audio can make all the difference.

8. Stability

One of the things that can take your video from looking really rough to looking really smart is adding some stability to the camera. For static shots, a tripod is key! There’s a huge range of tripods available and we particularly like Manfrotto’s video tripods. If you’re hoping to be a bit more mobile, a monopod can be invaluable. There are a range of other stabiliser options from simple shoulder rigs to complicated electronic stabilisers but really, a tripod is the best place to start.

9. Storage

One thing to remember, especially if you shooting in high quality 1080, high fps or 4K is that you’re going to need a fast card. At very least you’re going to want a class 10 memory card with the highest MB/s you can afford, ideally you’ll want to get a U1 or U3 card as these are even faster.

Not all cards are equal, take care when purchasing memory cards to make sure you purchase the speed of cards that you need!

Not all cards are equal, take care when purchasing memory cards to make sure you purchase the speed of cards that you need!

10. Timelapse

Want to add some sweet establishing shots to your footage? Shoot a quick timelapse! You’ll need an intervalometer to shoot the stills, of course, Triggertrap Mobile is perfect for this.

Just in case you missed it, here's our global crowdsourced Timelapse, LapseWorld.


Why not try out some of these tips for yourself? We want to see what you come up with over on our social channels! Tag us @Triggertrap and #Triggertrap to make sure we see it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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