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Video With a DSLR

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How to shoot video with a digital SLR - we've been asked to make more films about video so here we have step one when using a DSLR.

DSLRs are great for video mostly because you can utilise all the beautiful depth of field and focal length qualities of the lenses you already have. Also you have two image capturing devices in one bit of kit so it's cost effective.

There are some downsides to shooting live action video on a digital SLR though. They're tricky to hand hold because the viewfinder LCD has to be at arm's length making it difficult to keep the shot steady. Especially when shooting live action. If you can invest in a video rig then it makes life a lot easier but lets start at the beginning for now.

To get the best from your DSLR video I suggest shooting shorter clips and editing them together rather than running around trying to capture everything in one long piece of footage. Shoot your clips from a tripod so the shot's steady - especially when using a longer lens. A tripod also lets you compose the image and lock it in place so you then have time to check other settings and focusing.

A word of caution about the tripod. Digital SLRs are quite heavy and if your tripod is wobbly or the tripod head isn't strong enough to take the weight, the wobble and vibration of any little movements will be captured in the video making it look fuzzy or worse. I know I say this a lot but a cheaply made tripod or tripod head that isn't strong enough to support the weight of you camera is useless for filming video and stills.

Video making is different from shooting stills because you're capturing movement instead of freezing it so there are creative considerations about movement you'll have to make. Sometimes it's better to allow things to move around in the frame or to enter and exit, other times you may need to follow the movement. These are creative choices for you to make and to begin with I suggest you film both. You can choose which to use when you edit the video.

When you're learning how to shoot video don't be too ambitious to begin with. Take your time and think about what you're doing. And do it on your own because it will take a time commitment from you. If you're out for a walk with someone chances are you'll drive them mad with boredom, and feel pressured yourself which is not the way to learn new things.

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