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Its video recording capabilities are one of the best features of modern DSLRs.
And while some DSLRs offer better video specs than others, you can improve the quality of the videos you produce in the short run with these tips.
The following tips will help you to fulfill your creative vision, from getting the right accessories to learning how to shoot in manual mode.
Stabilize the Camera
It is necessary to have a strong, stable base to get simple, sharp still pictures. But when shooting video, it’s even more critical.
You’re filming a moving picture after all, so if the camera isn’t stable, the footage will give viewers a feeling of seasickness because the video is jumping all over the place.
Using a tripod is the easiest way to stabilize the camera during video recording.
You can pick up a good video tripod for less than $200, such as the E-Image shown above.
Specifically designed for video shooters, this particular tripod features a fluid head with a 75 mm bowl and a fixed counterbalance that allows the head to hold up to 11 pounds of gear.
The EK650 has a mid-level spreader and fast leg locks for quick and stable set-up to increase stability.
Tripods such as this one provide fixed pan drag, variable tilt drag, and continuous tilt drag for more precise camera positioning changes.
It also comes with a GP1 plate that is compatible with different heads of E-Image and Manfrotto.
The aluminum legs are powerful and sturdy, but lightweight, making the tripod easy to carry. There are even anti-slip pads on the feet to further improve stability.
If you stabilize the image, it is virtually impossible to get the highest quality footage, so investing in a high-quality tripod like the E-Image EK650 is one of the best tips for better DSLR video.
Editor’s Tip: Every great DSLR video needs a fantastic soundtrack that adds suspense, texture and lets you tell a better story. Epidemic Sound is one of my favorite places to get audio. They have an amazing selection of songs, albums, and sound effects to make your videos come alive. Jump over to Google and look for “Epidemic Alert” and see what’s going on right now!
Learn to shoot in Manual Mode
When creating videos, shooting in manual mode is a slightly different exercise than when shooting still photos in manual mode.
First, the speed of the shutter must be double the rate of the frame. So if you’re shooting at 24 frames per second (fps), you need at least 1/50 seconds shutter speed.
It assumes, of course, that if you aim at 30 fps, you will need a shutter of at least 1/60 seconds, and if you shoot at 60 fps, the shutter speed will need to jump to 1/125 seconds.
If you don’t follow this rule, the video footage you take ends up looking choppy, rather than the continuous smooth video footage you like.
On the aperture front, it is the same in film like still photography.
If the depth of field is to be reduced, keep the subject in good, clear detail but with a blurred background, open the window. If you want the whole scene to be sharp, close the gap.
Obviously, there will be plenty of light coming into the lens if you use a wide aperture to blur the picture. Conversely, there will be much less light if you close the aperture down to increase the depth of field.
You will need to adjust the ISO to improve even the exposure.
As with still photography, to reduce optical noise, you want to keep the ISO as low as possible. If shooting with a wide aperture, this is not a concern because there is plenty of light. You can, therefore, hold the ISO to a minimum.
Nevertheless, the ISO will need to be increased when you close the window. Checking video at various ISO rates is a good rule of thumb so you can decide the absolute lowest ISO setting you can use to get good exposure with minimal noise.
Don’t shoot in autofocus
DSLR autofocus systems are better than ever to take still pictures.
But in most situations, if you use continuous autofocus, autofocus for shooting video results in camera searching for the correct focus point.
A better option is to use manual focus so you have complete control over what and what is not in focus.
Manual emphasis can sound scary, but as demonstrated by this video (below), it’s not really as hard as some people think! Learning manual focusing should be one of the first steps you take if you need to know how to shoot video with a DSLR.
For additional tips on manual video focusing, check out ZY Productions’ video below.
Invest in Good Lens
Lenses you use to shoot video have more effect than anything else on the quality of the footage-even your camera!
Most professional DSLR videographers would inform you that prime lenses with a wide aperture like the Sigma 24 mm f/1.4 HSM Art Lens are the best lenses for shooting video.
The 24 mm focal length is suitable for wide shots, while the enormous f/1.4 aperture allows you to monitor field depth and aim with relative ease in low-light situations.
The problem, of course, coughing up some cash on this particular lens.
With a longer prime lens, say, a Canon EF 50 mm f/1.2 you can take excellent quality footage.
Again, you get an ideal focal length and an even bigger opening than the Sigma lens, but it comes at a $1,500.00 price.
For videography, you can also use a zoom lens, but be sure to invest in a good zoom lens (so, not the kit lens that came with your camera).
The Sigma 24-70 mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art, which is a cool and cost around $1,100.00, is a good normal zoom lens for shooting video.
The focal length of 24-70 mm is extremely versatile and the aperture of f/2.8 is large, though not as large as the two previously mentioned lenses.
Nonetheless, throughout its focal range you can expect good image quality and a nice bonus is the optical image stabilization.
Not everybody can afford to spend so much money on a good video lens, of course.
I recommend Lensfinder for DSLR camera accessories such as great lenses that cost less.
Lensfinder is a marketplace where photographers can buy and sell lenses with the peace of mind that there are fraud protections in place.
What’s more, you can communicate with sellers directly, that way you can ask questions before your purchase.
After the purchase, you can leave feedback so other community members know how good the seller is. There’s even a mediation service in case things go awry!
It’s simply the most secure and easiest way to get your hands on great lenses while saving a buck.
Ultimately, how to shoot video with a DSLR comes down to many factors, but the ones outlined here are among the most important.
Do yourself a favor and get geared up with a good lens and solid tripod, learn how to shoot in manual mode, master manual focusing, and you’ll be in good shape for fulfilling your creative vision with your videos.