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In Video for Photographers: Shooting with a DSLR, photographer and videographer Rob Sheppard provides the essential foundation that photographers need to make the leap from still pictures to moving ones. From technical considerations, such as audio and frame rates, to aesthetic issues, such as composition and story development, this course presents concepts and techniques photographers need to get the best results from their gear and learn the art of video-based storytelling. Exercise files are included with the course.
Since you cannot shoot RAW with video on a DSLR, you know that means you need to be more careful about exposure. So we're going to look at exposure with video in this movie. And now that we're on location shooting these swing dancers, we can look a little bit more about how to actually deal with exposure when you are shooting video like this. Now remember, since we have no RAW, it's really important to pay attention to how you check your exposure. I am using manual exposure.
Auto exposure with video on your camera is probably not what it is for still photos. On many cameras today, the camera takes over the exposure totally, as if you chose a non-adjustable auto exposure mode, regardless of the mode that you took. You may also find that all sorts of weird things are happening, including the changing of the ISO and weird shutter speeds and all that stuff. So at this point in the technology, most DSLRs actually work best for video in manual exposure.
However, manual exposure happens to be a very good way to handle video exposure because frequently things will be changing during the time you are recording that could make auto exposure change inappropriately. Such as auto exposure making unwanted adjustments to keep up with what is happening that could cause a flickering or changing in brightness of the scene as you shoot it. That's very annoying in video. So I am going to show you how I check exposure by using the LCD and the exposure scale on this particular camera.
Now remember that your camera may have slightly different options. You're going to have to check your manual and figure out how it deals with exposure for video. But son this camera, I actually get an exposure showing up down at the bottom, There's a little scale and it tells me if the exposure is right or wrong. And on this one, it looks like I can bring it down a little bit to put it in the middle. And that tells me I am in the range. If I have a problem with overexposure, I am going to crank it up so it is overexposed.
A lot of times what I will do is actually take a quick picture and you'll see it starting to blink. That blinking is something that I look for that tells that I'm over exposure. So if I then take the exposure back down to a more normal, now I'll show you. I actually take the picture again. And you can see there's no blinking. Just because there is no blinking does not mean I have a good exposure, because if I've under exposure I am going to have some problems too and there will be no blinking. So lot of times I will take the exposure just step to where it just starts to blink and then back it off slightly.
The other thing that is useful in many cameras is to use a histogram. If you have a histogram there are some things that you can look at as to how the right-hand side is hitting the histogram and whether you're getting a good exposure or not. So those are some of the basic things of what I am going to look for for exposure but I still have to be thinking about some limitations. And one big limitation for video is that shutter speed. As you only have a narrow range of shutter speed that you can use.
So sooner or later, you're going to run into that challenge because of that. Now when you are looking at really bright conditions, you're going to have to use small f-sops. And that's okay, if you want small f-stops. If you want wide f-stops because you want a limited depth of field, you have a problem. So you have to cut the light and you're going to need to get a neutral density filter. Not a graduated neutral density filter, but a neutral density filter that is a dark gray filter that knocks down the light.
There is no other option because of the slow shutter speeds that have to be used. So what I would do is simply put that over the lens, it cuts the light, and I am able to use the slow shutter speed and the wide aperture that I need. So this is a very valuable accessory when you are outside in bright light level. Now, if light levels are low and you need to use the slow shutter speed, remember you can't go slower than 1/30th of a second. At that point you're going to have to change the ISO setting to increase the camera sensitivity.
Luckily most cameras today do a very good job and capture quality video at ISOs easily from 100 to 400 and even 800. And even if you have to go higher, remember, if the light is very low, having a little noise in the picture might not even hurt. That might just give the image an edgier look to it. However, there isn't any other option if you're going to use the existing light. So in this case if the light levels are low or if I felt I needed to use a small aperture, we'll stop this down.
Okay, now I am starting to get limited as to how far I can go. I am still okay here but that's way too dark. I can't do that without going in to changing the ISO. I have to do that, because otherwise I run into trouble. So we'll go back to where I was before. That's what we're looking for very, very important. And the only other option is you have to bring some lights in and add light in order to get your exposure correct. Another thing that can help in low light conditions is to use the fast lenses.
Photographers are very familiar today with using zoom lenses. Zoom lenses are not very fast. That means they don't have a wide maximum aperture. Single focal length or prime lenses have become popular for video because they do offer a faster maximum aperture. In fact you can get some of these lenses that have really big openings. They have a really fast maximum aperture. And so this lens really lets in a lot a light. You can see how much light it lets in. And if I put it on this camera with this lens, that would help me shoot at much lower light levels without increasing the ISO.
Now shooting in wide aperture with such a lens also gives some very interesting effects. When you shoot wide open with a fast lens, you get some really nice selective focus effects. A lot of people think this makes video look more like it was shot with movie fill. And sometimes that's a great look. It doesn't look like the video that the home video cameras shoot. In addition all these things come together to really help you get better images. So remember that you need to think about exposure when shooting with video.
But if you pay attention to some of these tips and pay attention to how you deal with exposure, how you set your ISO, using a neutral density filter, and looking into maybe using fast prime lenses, you're going to get better results.
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