April 5, 2019

Understanding Camera Settings for Video!

For an ENTIRE year I filmed in the wrong frame rate. I didn’t know why my footage looked different from what I envisioned. To be honest, there was a lot I didn’t understand about my camera in the beginning. I just took it out and started shooting! Which was a great way to learn and gain experience, but it wasn’t until I took the time to master my settings and know why they were important, that my footage improved. Nailing your camera settings before you press record, will help you get better quality videos!

 


FRAME RATE

In order to get that cinematic, movie look for your videos, you need to be filming in 24 fps (frames per second). Frames per second is the frequency that images appear on the screen. The higher your frame rate, the more jittery your footage is going to look because your camera is capturing more information.

That is why slow motion is filmed at a higher frame rate! If you want to capture slow motion footage, you would set your frame rate to 60 fps or 120 fps. Your camera captures even more information and then once it is slowed down, it looks nice and smooth and magical.

SHUTTER SPEED

Shutter speed is SO important! It affects how much motion blur is in each frame of your video. You always want your shutter speed to be double what your frame rate is. If you are shooting in 24 fps, your shutter speed would be 48. Most DSLRs don’t shoot at exactly double, so just round up to the closest number. Which in my case, shooting on Canon DSLRs is 50.

Again, shooting in slow motion means shooting at a higher frame rate, so you would double your shutter speed for this as well. 60 fps = 120 shutter speed, 120 fps = 240 shutter speed. You will notice that the higher you raise your shutter speed, the darker your image is, which is why choosing a lens with a lower F-Stop is important.

F-STOP / APERTURE

I think it’s safe to say that everyone loves a professional picture where the subject is in focus and the background is blurry. That’s why portrait mode on iPhones are such a hit! iPhones essentially fake what camera lenses are created to do. What you’re seeing is called a shallow depth of field. Each lens has it’s own range where the subject can remain in focus, and that is accomplished with varying F-Stops.

F-Stop correlates with the focal length of the lens, and aperture is the opening of the lens that allows light to travel through. What you need to know, is that the lower the F Stop, the more light you are letting in and creating a more shallow depth of field (creating a blurrier background). The higher the F-Stop, the less light you let in and you increase the depth of field, capturing more detail in the background.

Think of it like an eye! The wider the eye opens, the more light it allows in. As the eye closes, the less light passes through. If you’re shooting outside in the middle of the day, your image is going to be overexposed. This is where the use of ND filters (neutral density filters) comes in! They are essentially sunglasses for your lenses. If you want to shoot your subject so that the background is blurry, you set your F-Stop to a lower number. When you do that, so much more light is passing through your lens and it becomes over exposed! ND filters help you maintain a low F-Stop without having your image over exposed.

ISO

The amount of times that ISO has saved my life in low light situations is infinite. Thank goodness for ISO, because without it, everyone would be walking around with continuous lighting strapped to their heads. With that said, you shouldn’t rely on ISO as your source of light. If you find that you need to boost your ISO above 1600, maybe you should strap a light to your head!

ISO measures the sensitivity of light to your cameras image sensor. When you change your ISO, you are changing the sensor to be highly sensitive to light, or to have a low sensitivity. A general rule of thumb for video is to keep your ISO at 1600 or below. Going above 1600 will create grainy footage. Sticking to a lower ISO will produce higher quality video with less noise!

Find out what your cameras Native or Base ISO is. This is the best setting for your camera’s sensor to achieve the most gorgeous image possible!

WHITE BALANCE

Ohhhhh white balance. If you shoot weddings, you know the battle of ballrooms and white balance. It’s a never ending war of keeping your couples from looking like pumpkins, versus white walkers from Game of Thrones.

White balance is your cameras color temperature measured in Kelvin. Shooting outdoors is going to give off blue tones, so you need to balance that out! Just like shooting inside with artificial lighting (or in a ballroom that has been doused in gold) is going to give off yellow tones. If you’re shooting outside, your color temperature is going to start at 5500K and increase in overcast and shade.

A little hack that helps me remember where to set my white balance- starting my indoor shots at 3000K and my outdoor shots at 5500K, and adjusting from there. If you are shooting on multiple cameras, make sure that your settings match! It will save you so much time on the back end. Life is all about balance, amirite?

 


 

Understanding all of these settings can feel extremely overwhelming to start! But the more you practice, the more comfortable and faster you will get adjusting them.

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alex@madisongreymedia.com