Best Camera and DSLR Video Settings
– Hey, it’s Justin Brown from Primal Video. With so many different DSLRs and mirrorless point and shoot cameras available today, a lot of them will give you pretty good results for video if you just leave them set to auto, but it’s not until you kick your camera into manual mode where you can get full control of your videos and really take them to the next level. Now, I’m sure there’s a few of you that are just mentally switching off right now, thinking about the extra hassle and how’re you’re going to manage this creating videos by yourself and adding to your video production process already.
I assure you that it’s not hard and it’s definitely worth it. In fact, there’s just eight simple settings you need to know to get awesome results with your videos, whether you’re shooting on a DSLR, mirrorless, or a point and shoot camera, or pretty much any camera on the market today. In this video, we’re going to run through them all and how they work. (upbeat tune) So we’ll start off with the first one, which is video resolution, or the quality of your videos.
In my opinion, you should be maxing this out and recording it the best quality that you can for the camera that you are using. So, for most cameras these days, they should be at the baseline recording at 1080p; the resolution that you’re recording at. Some of them will do 2k and 4k as well. I’m currently using a Panasonic Gh4 and I’m recording in 4k. Now, there is some merit in recording in 4k, Youtube does actually recognize 4k videos and it even puts a little 4k tag on it. And we don’t know exactly how much this affects the ranking of the videos, or if they’re featured more because they are done in 4k, but for us in having the ability to record in 4k, it’s a no-brainer on the chance that it’s going to help our videos rank a little bit better as well. So, if the camera that you’re using doesn’t support 4k, I’m definitely not saying run out and buy a 4k camera.
I’m saying make sure that the camera setting- The record quality settings are the maximum for the camera that you’re using because you can always lower the quality if you needed to, for whatever reason in your editing software. So while I really recommend recording in the best quality that you can on the camera that you’ve got, if you are using some insanely awesome camera and it just means that your workload is going to be so much more, so much more rendering time, exporting time in order to get the content out, then lower the quality on your camera if you need to. It’ll take the load off your editing, off your PC or MAC that you’re using to edit on, it will make the whole process easier. So, max it out while you can, but if you’ve got some crazy camera, then probably lower it to 4k or maybe 1080 if your workflow needs it. So the next one is number two, which is bitrate, and it really goes hand in hand with the first one which is video resolution and in most cameras, the settings are actually done in the exact same spot.
So, what you’ll find in most cameras is you’ll pick the video resolution and it will normally have a bitrate assigned with that resolution, so your bitrate is the amount of data that’s captured per frame, per second of your video. So, the higher the bitrate, the higher the quality, but also the larger the file size. So, again, this is another one that I would suggest maxing out wherever you can. If you’ve picked the highest resolution capable on your camera and you’ve picked the highest bitrate available on your camera, then you’re gonna get the highest quality video through into your editing software, which means you can upload then the highest quality video to Youtube or wherever you’re running your videos out. So, as I said before, we’re recording this video in 4k which is the resolution, but we’re recording it at 100 megabits per second, so it’s the maximum quality for this camera.
Now, the number, the megabits per second, between different makes and models of cameras will definitely differ and it’s always a case of the higher the number, the higher the megabits per second, the higher the quality of the video image. So, while you’re camera may not do 100, or it may do 200 megabits per second, just try to pick the highest that you can in your camera. It’s also really important not to compare apples for apples with cameras and say this camera is better because it does 30 megabits per second and this one only does 18 megabits per second. It’ll come down to the kodak and the compression that’s applied to that bitrate, to that resolution that will determine the quality of the video. General rule: just make sure that they’re maxed out. The third setting we’re going to look at is the shutter speed. Now, this one will vary a little bit. So, based on the frames per second that our video is recorded at, whether it’s 25 frames per second in Australia or the UK or whether it’s around 30 frames per second if you’re in the U.S., you’ll want to set your shutter speed accordingly.
So, if you’re in the U.S., your shutter speed you should set at a lower point, will be 1/60th of a second. In Australia, that’s 1/50th of a second, based on the frame rates 25 frames per second or 30 frames per second. So, the reason for this is if you go less than that number for the region that you’re filming in, then you’ll get motion blur or a blurry image if there’s any movement in your shot. Going above this, you can also introduce flickering in your video as well. So, in Australia, our power cycles at 50 hertz, which means our lights are gonna flicker at 50 hertz.
So, if we match that 50 to the 50 shutter speed in our camera, then there is zero chance of any flickering or strobing coming through in our videos. Likewise, in the states, you’re running at 60 hertz. So that means the lights are gonna flicker at 60 hertz, which means you need to set your shutter speed to 60 or to 1/60th of a second to match that. Now, you can also set your shutter speed to a multiple of that number. So, in the U.S., you could also run at 1/120th of a second because it’s double 60, or in Australia, around 100 frames per second because it’s double 50. So, that way they’re still in sync. They’re still flickering or running at the same frequency so that you won’t get any flickering through in your recorded videos. So it’s really important that you set the right shutter speed for your area. So 50 or 60. Number four is the aperture, or it’s also known as the f-stop and it’s the amount of light that’s let in through your camera lens to your camera’s sensor for recording the video. So, the lower the number, the more light’s coming in, which will also give you a blurrier background.
That’s the thing on Youtube these days, everyone wants the blurry background. So, in order to get that, you need to have a lower number, which means that your camera lens is letting in more light. So, for example, the camera lens that I’m using here is a sigma 18 to 35, which is an Faperture lens. I’m actually running it on a speed booster. I don’t want to over-complicate things, but it means that I’m able to get this down to an F1.2, Which means that the background is pretty blurry, especially for the camera and the sensor in the camera that I’m using.
So, without over-complicating it all, the lower the number, the shallower the depth-of-field, which means that you can get a blurry background. Now, what you don’t want to do here is leave this to auto, because if it’s on auto, the moment a cloud comes over outside or the moment the lighting changes in your scene, or even yourself moving around in the shot, your camera will automatically adjust for that. So it’s really important, to get optimal results with your videos, that you lock this setting down so that you’re in control o fit, instead of your camera making the judgement call whether to brighten or darken the shot for you. Now if you’re not after that blurry background look or if you want to darken off your shot, then just increase your aperture to a higher number. So what I’m actually using on this camera here is called a variable ND filter, or a neutral density filter.
Essentially, it’s like having a pair of sunglasses over the front of the camera lens. I have the ability, then, to just turn it around and make the shot brighter or darker without having to adjust the aperture in the lens. So I’ll still get that blurry background look, but I can lean forward and I can adjust the picture brighter or darker just by turning the front of the lens. Now, these won’t work on every camera, but they’re great to have with you if your camera supports it. Number five is the ISO, now you can really think of this as your digital brightness. So, the lower the number, the darker the image. The higher the number, the brighter the image. So, in typical outdoor or really bright scenes or scenarios, you want to be using a lower number to make the shot darker so that it looks normal.
Using a higher number outdoors will give you a really bright shot. So, right now my camera is set to an ISO of 400. If I was gonna be taking it outside, I’d probably be setting it to 200 or 100, and this is something that differs, once again, between different cameras and different makes and different models. Some cameras will allow you to go to a much lower ISO, or a darker image.
And others will go to a much higher, so it’s a good idea to work out the best settings for you based on what your image looks like. In most cases, you wouldn’t need to go over an ISO of 800, unless you’re in really, really dark scenarios or dark scenes. Some cameras will go way up, 5600, 3200, and they’ll still get a pretty good image. Others, the cheaper ones with the smaller lenses, if you’re pushing your camera up above 1600 ISO to 3200 ISO, you’re gonna get a terrible looking image, it’s gonna be really rainy, really noisy. So, it’s all about just knowing that the lower numbers are the darker, higher numbers are the brighter, and work out in and around where your shot needs to be. So when you’re locking down your ISO setting, it’s really important that you look through your camera’s viewfinder or through your camera’s display to actually see the image. Most cameras will have a built-in exposure meter showing you if the overall shot is too dark or too bright. But really, at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to how you like the shot to look.
So then it’s just a matter of increasing or decreasing the ISO to get the brightness around about where you’d like it. Now, you can fine-tune your brightness of your shot, going back to your aperture, or as I said, using a neutral density filter on the front of your lens. But really the key thing with your ISOs to keep in mind is that you don’t want to be going unnecessarily to a higher number or a higher ISO setting because you will get a graner, noisier image. So, keep it as low as you can in order to get the shot that you’re after. Number six is audio levels and it’s really important to set this one to manual wherever possible. The biggest issue with leaving it on automatic is the moment that you pause between a sentence or a paragraph, then your camera will boost the volume because it’s not detecting any audio through your microphones so it’ll boost it up in order to pick up any background noise in the scene that you’re recording in. The issue then is, when you start talking again, the first word that you say is going to be way too loud, so it would distort, and it really doesn’t sound great and it’s pretty hard to fix in your editing afterwards.
So by manually setting your audio input levels, there’s no chance of your audio distorting. So plug in your microphones and, if your camera supports it, bring up the audio bars so that you can actually see, visually, how loud the audio is. You don’t want it to go into the red section, you always want it in the green or the orange if possible. It’s actually better to have your volume slightly quieter because it’s easier to boost it up in your editing than to have it too loud and distorting, which is hard to recover and sounds terrible. Now, if your camera doesn’t have the audio bars or the audio meters so you can’t visually see how loud your audio is going into the camera, I would suggest recording a quick clip and either playing it back and listening to it with headphones to make sure it’s not distorting or, even better, take it into your editing software, turn on the audio wave forms, and you will visually see the audio wave forms for that clip you’ve just recorded and make sure that they’re not clipping or not flat on the top.
If they’re maxing out or their flat-lining across the top, it means that your audio is too loud and it’s distorting. So, then you can go back and adjust it accordingly. Number seven is focus, you’ll want to set your camera to manual focus wherever possible. Now, there are some examples of cameras that have really good auto focus, the 70d and the 80d, but even if I was using those, I personally would still use them on manual focus wherever possible. And the reason is I just like to know that everything is exactly how I want it. I don’t want to find out later in my editing that my camera was searching and couldn’t find me or it kept adjusting the focus in and out, which just looks terrible in your videos.
So, with any of these settings, you want to fix everything in the camera so that you don’t have to fix it later in your editing. So, for me, manual focus is a big one. But then the obvious question is if you’re filming your videos yourself, how can you set the focus to manual to make sure that you are in focus? Well, there’s a couple of answers. The first one is if you’re in a room like this, you could get someone to stand in wherever possible and you could focus on them, maybe mark out some markers on the floor, maybe even note down the settings on your camera for the focus point for that set up. If there’s no one around, then use a prop that will be in the location that you’ll be standing or sitting. Bring in a light stand or a pillow or whatever it is, and focus on that and then move it out of the way and then get into your videos.
Another option, and it’s probably a better option, is that a lot of cameras these days have wifi built in and allow you to control your camera wirelessly using a phone or a tablet, and that’s exactly how I’m recording right now. So, I said I’m using a Panasonic Gh4 which has wifi built in. I’m controlling everything in this recording using my Samsung tablet, I can just tap to adjust the focus, I can see that it’s recording. I can control everything that I need to from this and just move it out of shot while I’m recording and I know that I’m in focus for the entire shoot. So, if your camera supports wireless remote controlling, then that’s a great way to run everything, control everything, monitor everything yourself.
Now, really, that would be a key point if I was picking a new camera to go and buy right now, I would make sure that it had that feature because, for me, that’s a game changer. And number eight is the white balance, which is the color temperature of your shot. You can really change the look and feel of your shot by adjusting the white balance, which is why it’s really important to lock it down.
Last thing you want to do is have your camera automatically adjusting as a cloud goes over or something it senses changes in your scene and the color temperature changes. So it’s really important to set this one to manual so that you’ve got a consistent color or a consistent look across your entire video. It would make it very difficult to color-correct later when you’re editing if it was changing throughout your shot. You’d color correct one part and then a bit further down, it could look totally different. So, even if your white balance is set wrong, even if all your footage comes out with a blue tinge, at least you’ll be able to fix it all once in your editing by applying one color correction effect. Now, most cameras will give you built in presets for white balance, you’ll have things like a sunny day, you’ll have incandescent lights, you’ll have fluorescent lights.
You’ll have different presets built in for your cameras, so find the one that suits your filming location or some cameras will give you full control over white balance and will allow you to enter the color temperature, which is measured in Kelvin, into your camera. Now, if you’ve got no idea where to start with white balance, as I said, start with the presets, cycle through those, and see which one you like the look of best. Some cameras will also give you an automatic reading, so it’s whatever the camera suggests, but lock that down so that it is not gonna change throughout your entire filming. Alright, so there’s the eight settings you need to know in order to get awesome results with your videos.
Now that’s done, check out the link on screen now for more on DSLR lenses. I’ll see you next time. (music fades).
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