10 Tips To Better HDSLR Video.

Cameras

Here are a few tips I have picked up along the way. They are geared towards shooters just getting into the HDSLR game.

1-For all Professional Canon HDSLR’s we have discovered what we call “Native” ISO’s. They are 160, 320, 640, 1250 and 2500. We have found that the other ISO’s are either a pull down or push up from the native ISO’s. This will improve the quality of the video dramatically.

2-Decrease your depth of field and use it to isolate the subject. DOF is a very powerful tool in cinema. It is much more aesthetically pleasing to the audience. ND filters will help you get into the f2.8-f4 zone that works well for cinema.

3-Neutral Picture style. The H.264 Codec is always trying to loose information before its compresses it onto the CF card. A Neutral or Flat picture style will give you more latitude in post for corrections.

4-Use a Tripod. Unless you have a rig or are a rock solid hand held shooter, a tripod will keep it looking steady and save you time in post. DSLR’s were not designed for hand held video work. A viewfinder and image stabilized lens will help greatly for handheld work.

5- Shoot 24 fps to get a cinema aesthetic. Shoot 30 fps for sports or live action. One takes you away from reality; the other puts you in the middle of the action. If you are trying to shoot slow motion 60 fps is better, however in most cases there is a sacrifice in image quality.

6-On-camera monitor. The 3” LCD is just too small. I dig the Marshall 5”and Small HD DP6 for the False Color Feature. The IRE scale is a fast and easy way to check exposure. HDSLR cameras have a very limited dynamic range. It is in the neighborhood of 4-5 stops from shadows to highlights. No clipping allowed. This cannot be fixed in post.

7-Shoot as much B-Roll as you can stomach. It will save your ass in post every time. I also try to shoot stock video whenever I can. This is an emerging market for video shooters. It doesn’t hurt to add additional streams of revenue. ink of it as the video that keeps on giving.

8-Do not erase clips on your CF or SD card in camera. This will reduce the life of the card. Always format to erase images.  I keep a camera at the DIT station when I can. This way any card on set is ready to go.

9-Switch over to manual focus. The ergonomics are completely different. This will also hone your focus pulling skills. Remember the days before auto focus. Well, they’re back.

10-Record separate sound. This is a must. The sound on the camera will work in a pinch. However using a separate sound recorder like the Zoom H4n will improve your sound quality two-fold. Plural-Eyes makes syncing sound in post very simple.

Jared Abrams
Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • http://YourWebsite Who Me?

    Great tips!

  • http://YourWebsite J Toha

    Hey Jared,

    Been reading Cinema5D for awhile and found this blog from there.

    Tips no. 8, for real?? That’s what I’ve been doing for the past one year since I bought my 7D (with minimal shooting experience).

    Thanks for the rest of the tips. Good stuff!