DSLR for Video Tips – The 5 Main Essentials for Recording Video with Your DSLR.
So you own a DSLR camera and have heard that not only does it take great pictures, but it has video capabilities, as well. BUT, you know nothing about using your DSLR for video, or how to capture it. Look no further — this quick tutorial is designed for you get a brief overview of my 5 main DSLR for video tips.
#1: Stablizing Equipment – If you’ve only taken photos using your DSLR, and you’re now looking to start utilizing the video components of your camera – the first step would be to invest in some type(s) of stabilizing video equipment. DSLR cameras are extremely prone to shake when handheld, which would automatically make your video footage shaky and unpleasant to watch. Thus, there are a number of different equipment items you could purchase to stabilize the camera in order to get clean, smooth video shots. The most standard devise is a tripod – simply a 3 legged stabilizer that the camera mounts on to and can film video with no shake at all. If you’re looking for something more dynamic, and often times less expensive, a simple monopod does the trick. These are 1 legged stands that the camera mounts on top of and allows the camera to be stabilized while filming. Unlike the tripod, the monopod cannot stand on it’s own and always needs to be held for smooth shots. Lastly, if you’re looking for stabilized shots while also moving the camera – then a glidecam is the only way to go. These are handheld devises that the camera mounts on top of, and is countered by weights at the bottom, which act as a balance in order to stabilize video shots. When walking with a glidecam, the video shots will be smooth and stabilized. However, glidecams can take a while to learn, and are definitely not easy to maneuver as they can be a bit heavy.
#2: Memory – Video files are much larger than still shot images, thus requiring much more memory for your camera. Just filming a 1 day wedding can burn through over 100gb of card storage, easily. If you’re considering filming an event, make sure you’re cards are a minimum of 16gb, and are high quality. Filming video using a slow/low quality memory card can result in an overload of information for the card, causing your camera to freeze up, and a loss of footage. If you’re serious about recording video with your DSLR – invest in a good amount of high quality memory cards.
#3: Audio – One of the biggest differences between still images and video (besides the fact that still images are still and video images are moving) is audio. If you’re filming something, odds are that you also want to capture the audio of whatever it is you’re filming. Ultimately, capturing the video images is only half of the battle – capturing good quality audio is another huge challenge unto itself. There is nothing worse than having wonderful video shots with horrible sound quality. Therefore, investing in your audio is a huge necessity. The fact is that DSLR cameras are still primarily used for still images. The video component captures great quality shots, but the sound quality is still sorely lacking. If you’re wanting to capture high quality audio to match your high quality video, investing in a microphone for your DSLR is the best route. A great devise is the Rode mic, which plugs directly into your camera, and screws into the boot on top of the camera. It’s not too big, but does a great job of enhancing the sound quality of whatever you’re filming. If you’re filming interviews or subjects speaking, using a Zoom H1 or Zoom H4n can capture wonderful audio that records directly into the devise. You can sync it up with your video in post-production (we’ll get to post production later).
#4: Lighting – If you’re used to taking photos on your DSLR, it’s probably safe to assume you’re familiar with a flash – the flashes of light that flick just as the photo is being taken. Naturally, these flashes do nothing for video, so to have a well lit shot for filming video, you will need to invest in a video light. Now I won’t go into the dynamics of 3 point lighting, but if you’re really considering making a big switch to video, do yourself a favor and learn the 3 point lighting structure and use this as much as possible. For this tutorial, I’ll assume most readers are brand new to video and are simply looking for something inexpensive and easy to function in order to get a shot lit. For this, I would recommend a standard LED video light that can mount onto the top of the camera, with an adjustable dimmer for varied lighting as needed. You can find these cheap – Amazon has great deals for around $50.
#5: Editing – So now you have all of your video essentials – your stabilizing equipment, your memory cards, your audio mics, your lighting – you go out and film some awesome video! So…now what? Well, now you need to learn the basics of video editing, in order to do something with the footage. Unedited video footage can be rough to watch. Even the best videographers can attest to this – watching footage unedited is like watching a car wreck. It’s the post-production (editing) work that really puts the pieces together to make your video footage complete. We’ll follow up with a future tutorial on video editing, but for now, just know that if you’re wanting to make the move from stills to video, you’ll need to invest in video editing software – Final Cut Pro 7, Premiere Pro, etc. Even something simple such as iMovie. I know first hand that this step could seem overwhelming, but in all honesty, all it takes is a few tutorials to get your feet wet and produce something simple with your video footage.
Lastly, and most importantly, start filming! The best way to learn video is by filming — anything and everything you can. Make mistakes; learn from your mistakes. You’ll get better each and every time you pick up the camera. If you cannot invest in any of the above recommended essentials, it’s okay. You can still get out there and use your DSLR for video. With time, you’ll find that you’ll want advance your skills and the 5 essentials will come naturally.
With a little bit of time and a bunch of practice you’ll be well on your way to making some amazing looking videos!
If you’d like to see a sample of my work, here is a quick video of a recent wedding we just did at FortyOneTwenty
**List of gear used for above video**
Canon Mark iii‘s // Canon Mark ii // 50mm 1.2L // 35mm 1.4L // 70-200 2.8 L // 135mm 2.0L // 24-105mm 4L // 100mm macro 2.8L // Cinevate Atlas 30 Slider // Glidecam HD 2000 // Manfrotto Tripod & monopod // Zoom H1n mics // Tiffen fader filters // 2 cinematographers
Best of luck in all of your video endeavors!