Top Tips for DSLR Video Beginners

April 26, 2012 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | Comment |

Since 2008 when Canon introduced their groundbreaking EOS 5D MkII camera with video capabilities, other manufacturers have followed their lead and now there's a host of high quality cameras out there able to capture high definition video with DSLR picture quality.

The big problem is, how many photographers actually use this feature? Or even know where to begin?

We caught up with Phil Barber, who alongside Rob Booker, are the key ‘moving capture' trainers at Aspire Photography Training in the Lake District, UK, owned and run by photo industry guru Catherine Connor.

Aspire's ‘moving capture' courses aim to give photographers an understanding of getting started in DSLR filmmaking.

As a photographer who has embraced the world of DSLR video Phil's given us lots of great tips on getting started on releasing the potential of your camera.

Top Tips for DSLR  Video Beginners

Understand your camera

It may sound obvious but you can't start making movies until you understand how to set up your camera. Individual camera models will vary. However, as with stills there are settings common to all of them.

Aperture should be treated as you would with stills, so a wide aperture gives a shallow depth of field - a lovely effect that lots old old school video cameras aren't able to achieve.

Set your shutter speed at anything faster than 1/30th sec. Our preferred setting is 1/50th. ISO should be treated the same as with stills photography, so adjust this according to your aperture and shutter speed settings.

White balance should be adjusted manually between shots to ensure consistency.

Frame rate - this is the number of frames per second and is not to be confused with shutter speed. The UK standard is 25 FPS, but we sometimes use a higher frame rate for slow motion shots.


For us, storytelling is the main focus. If the story is strong and told well it shouldn't matter what it is filmed on. Whether you're filming a wedding, a music video, a documentary or a feature film (it's important to have big dreams!) then the story is the key.

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