DSLR cameras get better and better as the years go on. 4K video and stereo mic jacks are becoming more common in intermediate and lower priced models nowadays.
These additional features encourage many budding photographers to also consider videography. So where do I start to capture great video with my interchangeable lens camera?
#1. Image Stabilization and Camera Movement
Shaky video footage is terribly distracting and makes any video look amateurish. This is used to great effect in some movies like the Blair Witch Project and Columbine. But most videographers want to stay away from too much shaking.
Therefore a tripod is essential while shooting video. And if my camera has in-lens or in-body image stabilization, even better. Image stabilization helps reduce or negate blur from sudden motions.
Tripods are still the best form of image stabilization. But even changing settings and clicking buttons on a camera already sitting on a tripod can cause blur. Therefore, a remote shutter is a great investment when shooting DSLR video.
Alternatively, most DSLR manufacturers also have free smart device apps that sync to your camera. These apps allow you to remotely control the camera without touching it at all.
A camera slider is another great tool for videographers. Panning and tilting are effective ways to create energy and movement in a scene. But with a camera slider, I can move the entire camera smoothly along a plane with little chance of shakiness. It adds a unique element of creative motion with a single tool.
#2. Get to know the autofocus modes of the camera
Interchangeable lens cameras (DSLR and mirrorless) that shoot video usually has highly advanced autofocus systems. These systems have all sorts of names like Servo AF, Continuous AF (which is the same thing as Servo), Lock-on AF, Eye AF, and so on.
So dig out your camera manual and consider what all of these settings do.
Some of the more videography oriented digital cameras like the Panasonic Lumix GH5 even have built-in features for smooth panning without the jumpiness that can sometimes occur when doing so manually.
#3. Take sequences of video
When shooting video on a DSLR, I need to think about the attention span of my audience and the subject matter at hand. Changing the focus and camera angle is a great way to keep the audience engaged.
If I shoot long sections with no change it’s easy for a scene to grow stale. And when that happens, my audience will lose interest.
So I prefer to take short to medium sized clips. And then if possible, I change the angle of the camera and continue. This is why videographers who specialize in interviews use multiple cameras simultaneously. The final video will incorporate clips from the points of view of all of the cameras used, rather than just a single camera.
DSLR video is a great place to learn videography. DSLRs have most of the functionality of full video cameras while still remaining flexible enough to shoot high-quality video as needed. And if I want to specialize further, more and more DSLR cameras today have ports and hot shoes that allow for all sorts of extra attachments for the best quality video.