HD-DSLR 101 – The basics of DSLR Video

DSLR’s have a great deal to offer. Large sensors provide striking depth of field, great low light capabilities, and interchangeable lenses on a budget. But there are also quite a few caveats that can take time, practice, and learning to combat. In this lesson we will take a look at some of the things you can do to improve video on DSLR cameras.

DSLR’s have a great deal to offer. Large sensors provide striking depth of field, great low light capabilities, and interchangeable lenses on a budget. But there are also quite a few caveats that can take time, practice, and learning to combat. In this lesson we will take a look at some of the things you can do to improve video on DSLR cameras.


Before we hit record, let’s take a look at some of the important settings to know. In full automatic, there will not be as much to consider. Typically frame rate will still be an option though and you may choose from 24, 30, and sometimes 60fps at different resolutions. At this time, 1080p is the highest resolution of choice and most new HD TV’s are capable of viewing this resolution. However, many laptop computer screens are still closer to 720p making the decision a matter of choice. 1080p is superior and future proof compared to other resolutions, however video at this resolution will require significant space and a high end computer system for viewing and editing. Typically, Hollywood movies are recorded at 24fps and much of television at 30fps. 24fps can be difficult to handle as it requires smooth motion and careful attention to movement of and in front of the camera. As a result, it is usually better to film at 30fps whenever possible. Shooting at 30fps also allows you to play back at 24fps thus giving a slow motion effect. 60fps allows for full ½ or more slow motion footage though rarely should be used for typical footage to be played back at full speed.

Once in manual, things become a little tricky. While in photography, you typically look for fast shutter speeds to stop action, on video, you have to slow things down. Motion blur created from slow shutter speeds creates smooth motion in video playback and typically you would want to set your shutter speed to 1/(2x the frame rate). For example, the ideal shutter speed in most cases for 30fps video would be 1/60th sec. This leaves you with the aperture and ISO as the only means of controlling the amount of light in the camera. For this reason, many DSLR users purchase a Variable Neutral Density Filter when looking for shallow depth of field in situations with plenty of light to limit the amount of light that reaches the sensor. 

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