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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Solutions: Video Fundamentals


A primer to get you started shooting video with a DSLR

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Canon EOS 5D Mark II

For most photographers, the biggest hurdle to getting into video with a DSLR is taking the first step. That's because the first step isn't all that simple. In this short Solutions article, we'll cover the basics so you can get started with some confidence.

The allure of video, obviously, is the ability to capture moments instead of single images. There are two fundamental classes of video: narrative video and motion snapshots. As a nature photographer, you're likely to be most interested in the latter, at least until you get some practice. The narrative video has a story that unfolds, while motion snapshots are snippets of action that are better suited to a few moments of video than a single frame.


Manfrotto 501 Video Head
Memory Card
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have sufficient memory. A 4 GB memory card might be able to hold a few hundred high-resolution JPEGs, but it's only going to hold a few minutes of video. And if you're shooting still and motion to the same card, which is common for still photographers, you're going to run out of space quickly. Consider investing in a 16 GB or even a 32 GB memory card. Be sure the card is UDMA 6 or higher (check your camera's manual for specific recommendations and requirements). UDMA 6 and higher means the card is rated for the higher data rates encountered with motion. Lower-cost cards may not be able to handle full motion, and you can get annoying frame dropouts.

Camera Setup
A sturdy shooting platform makes a huge difference. If you're trying to handhold while shooting video, you'll find that you end up with bouncy motion that's almost unwatchable after a few seconds. Anchor your camera on a solid tripod for the best results. Also, your standard ballhead, while outstanding for still capture, isn't well suited for motion unless you're going to keep the camera completely motionless. If you're thinking about any sort of panning or tilting, a proper video head is important. Video heads allow you to make these camera movements smoothly. You can get a video head quite inexpensively, and it will do the job well. Large, very expensive models are geared to professionals with heavy movie cameras and lenses. As a DSLR video shooter, you can get a much lighter-duty model that will do everything you need it to do.

When you're ready to shoot, you usually have a few options as far as the look the camera will generate. If you're just starting out, you may like the look of the normal image settings. Like a standard JPEG, these motion clips will have slightly enhanced color, contrast and sharpness. Once you get used to shooting motion, you'll probably change to a more muted look that will give you more options in postproduction. Don't stress too much about this at first. You're just getting your feet wet. There will be plenty of time to find a picture style that works best for you.

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