Settings for Shooting Video with a Digital SLR

The available video settings differ depending on the type of camera you own. Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a movie mode. If you shoot video on a point-and-shoot digital camera, the only options you have are to determine the resolution of the video and perhaps the dimensions.

However, if you own one of the new digital SLR cameras, you can adjust the exposure manually and creatively use depth of field when shooting your video. Specify a large aperture (small f-stop number) when you want to use a shallow depth of field to draw attention to a specific object in the scene.

Specify a small aperture (large f-stop number) when you want a large depth of field, such as when you’re creating video of a beautiful landscape like Yosemite Valley.

Your digital SLR may have the option to use manual settings to capture video or to specify the video frame rate. If you have one of the new all-singing, all-dancing digital SLRs, here are some video settings you should consider:

  • Manual shooting mode: When you shoot in Manual mode, you use an indicator on the LCD monitor to set the shutter speed and aperture. When you manually set the exposure, you have complete control over depth of field.

    You may feel that you can accomplish this shooting in Aperture Priority mode, but it’s important to shoot video with a shutter speed of about 1/50 of a second. This shutter speed works well with the frame rates offered on advanced digital SLR cameras to deliver silky smooth video.

  • Shutter speed: Choose a shutter speed that’s close to 1/50 of a second.

  • Aperture: Choose a large aperture (small f-stop number) for a shallow depth of field, or choose a small aperture (large f-stop number) for a large depth of field.

  • ISO setting: Choose an ISO setting that gives you the desired f-stop after dialing in a shutter speed of 1/50 of a second.

  • Frame rate: Choose a frame rate of 24 fps for NTSC video or 25 fps for PAL video. These frame rates are identical to those used for video captured on film.

  • Focus: Manually focus the camera on the important part of your scene. When you pan, your camera can't update the focus. If you’re capturing video of a landscape, choose settings that give you a small aperture to ensure a large depth of field, and then focus about two-thirds of the way into the scene.

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