How to Use Manual Exposure When You Record a Movie on Your Canon EOS 6D

By Doug Sahlin

You can manually expose your movies to gain complete control of your EOS 6D. When you manually expose a movie, you can set the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO speed rating. This is useful when you want to control the depth of field in a movie. For example, when you’re recording a video of a scenic vista, a small aperture gives you a greater depth of field.

When you manually expose a movie, use the exposure compensation scale at the bottom of the LCD monitor as a meter. To manually expose a movie:

  1. Flip the Live View/Movie Shooting switch to the left.

    Live View video recording is enabled.

  2. Press the Info button until you see the exposure compensation scale at the bottom middle of the Live View display.

    Use this scale to get the correct exposure.

  3. Rotate the Mode dial to M.

    You can manually set exposure in this mode.

  4. Point the camera toward the scene you’re going to record.

  5. Rotate the Main dial to set the shutter speed and then rotate the Quick Control dial to set the aperture.

    While setting the shutter speed and aperture, look at the exposure compensation scale. A flashing bar appears below the scale when the exposure isn’t perfect. If the bar is to the left of center, you need to increase exposure; if it’s to the right, you need to decrease exposure. When the indicator bar is aligned perfectly with the center of the scale, the exposure is perfect for the lighting condition.

    The aperture you choose determines the depth of field. If you’re recording a talking head video, you can choose a large aperture (small f-stop value) and your subject will be in focus, but the background will be out of focus. If you’re recording a video of a stunning landscape using a wide-angle focal length, choose a small aperture with an f-stop value between f/8.0 and f/13.

  6. Press the ISO button and then rotate the Quick Control dial to set the desired ISO speed setting.

    Choose the lowest possible speed for the lighting conditions while maintaining shutter speed that is 1/50 of a second. This shutter speed is deemed ideal for video recording by many videographers due to the fact that it is almost double the standard video frame rate of 24 fps (frames per second), which results in smooth video with good transitions between frames.

    If you shoot video at 30 fps, choose an ISO that will give you a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second. The exposure indicator shows that the scene is still slightly underexposed. A slightly higher ISO setting is needed to properly expose the scene and achieve the desired shutter speed of 1/60 of a second.


  7. Press the Start/Stop button to start recording video and then press it again to stop recording.

    When you’re finished recording, make sure you choose a different shooting mode or manually set exposure for the next scene you’re going to record.

When you’re recording video the camera will not refocus as you pan the camera, nor will it set exposure automatically. If you’re recording video of a scene that has objects that are varying distances from the camera, either use a small aperture, which ensures a large depth of field, or focus manually on the important objects that you want to be in clear focus.

If you’re recording video and will be panning from dark to light, meter the darkest spot in the scene and record the aperture, and then meter the lightest part of the scene and record the aperture. Split the difference and you’ll be able to capture a good video.