Using the Video Feature in Your New DSLR

Happy Holidays everybody! Did you get a fancy new camera and realize you want to become a filmmaker? KelbyOne Instructor, editor, videographer Brandon Ford has come up with his top five questions photographers have about shooting video.

“Can I just shoot video and pictures at the same time by pulling still frames from the video?

Answer: You would not want to pull video frames to use as pictures. The biggest reason would be quality and frame size. Most DSLR Users out there that have video options built into their cameras are going to have a resolution up to 1920 X 1080. In terms of pixels, that translates to only about 2 Megapixels. Do I need to say more? The other main reason why you would not do this is Full HD footage with a frame rate  at 1920 X 1080 is the frame size itself. 1920 X 1080 is what is considered a 16:9 ratio. It’s designed so your frame matches the screen shape of a movie theater screen. The majority of our images do not match this frame shape, although, they could if that’s the crop your going for but straight from camera your images are generally framed at 4:3 or 3:2 ratio which matches more with 35mm film which means your 2MP picture would need to be cropped to match and your losing even more quality. So can you? Yes you can, but definitely not recommended. Some newer DSLRS will capture both at the same time so make sure to check with your camera manufacturer and see if its an option.

Can I use my photography tripod to shoot video?

Answer: If you’re just starting out with video and money is tight, you can definitely shoot video on a photo tripod. Although there are some drawbacks. The biggest is being able to move the camera smoothly while shooting. When shooting video, you generally want to introduce movement of some kind into the scene. When using a video tripod, the movements are called panning (moving the camera side to side) and tilting (Moving the camera up and down). Some photo tripods can allow a little of these movements but in general you will at some point want to add a video tripod to your bag of tricks.

Does lens choice matter when it come to DSLR video?

Answer: Just like in photography there is a world of lens options out there to choose from and most of your photography lenses will works just fine for shooting video. Your apertures work the same way with one important difference. The lower the f-stop in photography means beautiful depth of field. Using the same lenses in video will provide a same look BUT because your dealing with movement now instead of stills, your zone of focus is going to be constantly shifting unless you’re shooting on a tripod with a fixed subject. So you don’t need to shoot at f1.2, but f2.8 is going to be look pleasing and draw your viewer into your subject. If you don’t own a fast lens like this, don’t sweat it. Believe it or not, most Hollywood movies’ translated f-stops are only around f3.5 to f5.6. Generally when it comes to cinema we see far less depth of field than you may realize.

Can I use the built in microphone to record audio?

Answer: The on-board microphone built into your DSLR…wait for it…. SUCKS! I would highly recommend using some kind of external microphone to record your audio.  I would start with an external hot shoe mounted shotgun microphone. Theses types of microphones will provide a level of wind protection and also allows you to point the microphone directly at the subject you’re trying to record so it helps with reducing room ambience, plus they will help you look like a stud when your shooting your video. After that, I would move into an external audio recording device and microphone separate from your camera.

Should I shoot in manual or use an automated shooting setting like AV or TV?

Answer: When you’re shooting video, you should always have your camera set to Manual mode. Shooting in aperture priority or shutter priority is not a great idea as it could potentially make your video look terrible. Unlike when shooting photos, Video is recording a bunch a frames a second so if you shoot in another mode besides manual you will undoubtedly see your video change as the camera makes the decisions to adjust aperture, shutter speed, and ISO continually. I recommend 1920X1080 at 24 fps (23.97 to be exact) That would be full HD and give your video the smoothest look similar to what you see in Hollywood. The next adjustment would be your Shutter Speed. I would set it at double what your frame rate is. So If your frame rate is 24 fps, then your shutter speed should be set to 1/48. Then your ISO can be determined by the remaining available light.

So that’s it! Those are the top 5 questions I get asked by photographers just starting out shooting video. Now you should feel a little more comfortable switching your DSLR over to video.”

Thanks Brandon for your video wisdom! If you want to check out any of Brandon’s classes, head over to his KelbyOne Instructor profile, or follow him on twitter and facebook.