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Full HD video is practically standard on SLR cameras these days and this has opened up a world of possibilities for would-be filmmakers. So, if I can drag you away from your lewd thoughts about videoing your partner in their knickers for a second, here are my top tips to get you started.

Lenses

Zoom lenses are great, but if you really want to maximise the potential of your video, consider buying some fixed focal length or prime lenses (35 mm, 50 mm and 85 mm work well). In particular, try to get the fastest lenses possible (i.e. the widest possible f-stop) to increase your ability to shoot in low light.

Memory cards

Buy a good quality memory card of at least 32 GB capacity. Cheaper, slower cards can overheat due to the amount of data being transferred and are prone to skipping. Look for a class 10 data-transfer rating.

Keep still

Keep your camera still when shooting – this prevents your audience from getting seasick. If possible, use a tripod or buy a shoulder rig. SLRs in particular suffer from jelly-lens, which essentially means the ultra thin sensor warps slightly if you move the camera too rapidly, resulting in distorted shots on screen.

Shoot in bursts

Many SLRs are limited to shooting clips about 10 minutes long. If you’re filming your daughter’s wedding speeches, remember you’ll have to shoot in bursts (come to think of it, an even better approach is to keep the speeches short).

Editing software

If possible, it’s worth investing in good editing software. Windows Movie Maker and Apple’s iMovie are great for starting out, but if you really want to develop the Tarantino in you, you’ll need a
decent editing suite.

Sound

Some SLRs have limited sound recording on board, some have the ability to plug in microphones, and others have both microphone and earphone capabilities. Depending on what you’re shooting and the importance of sound, you need to think about how you’ll record good audio. One option is to purchase an external sound recorder. Alternatively, iPods have terrific sound recording apps and can accept a range of microphones, making them an exciting and versatile option.

Handy tips:

  • Try to avoid excessive zooming. Great film-makers tend not to zoom unless they’re using crash zooms (i.e. rapid zooms) for creative impact. If you want to zoom, move the camera itself, which is more natural to the human eye.
  • Remember that framing usually changes from a 3:4 ratio in still photography to a wider 16:9 panoramic frame in video. Make sure you take note of the crop marks in your viewfinder.
  • Always check your focus – especially if the camera is on autofocus – to ensure it’s on the point in your frame where you want it and hasn’t shifted.
  • Effectively, there’s no difference between video and stills in terms of exposure. Watch your ISO and f-stop to prevent grainy results on screen.
  • Remember to tell a story in your movie – with a strong intro, engaging middle and powerful ending. If you intend broadcasting online, keep it short; less than three minutes has the maximum impact.
  • As a rule, try to edit together short clips of 10 to 20 seconds in length. Shoot longer clips only for dramatic effect.

 

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One Response to “Top tips for shooting video with an SLR camera”

  1. AndyW

    Thanks for the tips Cameron. Been looking for a nice simple few tips on this. I’m shooting on a class 6 and when I want full HD i find it a bit slow so also recommend as high a class as one can afford. Built in Mic on my Canon 550D means everything it picks up the noise of zooming as well as changing from auto to manual focus. When you hold the shutter half way down to auto focus…it makes a terrible noise on playback, so highly recommend an external mic.

    Thanks again! 🙂

    Reply

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