If you think that making the leap from taking still photos with your DSLR or mirrorless camera to creating videos is just a matter of switching the dial to video, you’ve got another thing coming.
Sure, simply switching to video mode will allow you to take videos, but the point isn’t to create humdrum videos, right? Just like when you take a still image, you want your video to speak to viewers in a meaningful way.
That means that there’s a lot more to consider for photographers that want to try their hand at videography. Consider these tips for making the leap.
Know Your Frame Rates
If you check out the specs on your camera, the chances are that you’ll find something like 24p, 30p, 60p, and so on, which indicates the maximum frame rate for video, or the number of frames generated per second. In the U.S., Canada, and a handful of other countries, 30fps is usually the way to go because those nations comply with the 60hz NTSC standard. That means that your devices - like your computer monitor - refresh at a rate of 60hz, making a 30fps video a good match. In virtually anyplace else in the world, power grids run at 50hz, making a 25fps video much more compatible.
Having said that, 24fps is traditionally recognized as the most widely accepted video format, simply because it still works with both 50hz and 60hz power standards. So, in short, if you live in the USA or Canada and want your video to be viewable by someone in Europe, shoot at 24fps. Conversely, if you live in Africa and want someone in Canada to be able to watch your video, go with 24fps.
Exposure Isn’t Just Exposure
Obviously, exposure is still exposure, but it has a much different feel in videography than photography. When shooting a still image, you dial in the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO to control exposure, plain and simple. But when creating a video, each of these elements have added criteria of which you must be aware.
With shutter speed, it’s essential that you dial in the appropriate shutter to get a good exposure, but you also need to have a shutter speed that is roughly double your frame rate. For example, if you’re shooting at 30fps, you’d need a shutter speed of at least 1/60 seconds to avoid rolling shutter issues, which reduce the quality of the video. Similarly, if shooting at 24fps, dial in at least 1/50 seconds for your shutter speed
When thinking about aperture, it’s still part of determining a proper exposure, but for videography, there’s also concern about using it to control depth of field. In fact, many videographers use a cinema prime lens for video, which has T-stops as opposed to f-stops. The advantage of T-stops is that they are exact exposure values, whereas f-stops are merely estimations.
ISO is perhaps the least complicated of the videography exposure controls. Just like when shooting stills, the higher the ISO, the grainier your video will be. In some instances, this might be a nice artistic touch, but if you want crystal-clear video, minimize that ISO to the extent that you can.
Video Needs Outstanding Audio
You can have a video that looks terrible, but with great audio, it can still be something that’s widely viewed and appreciated. Conversely, you can have a visually stunning video that blows people’s minds, but if the audio is bad, the overall impression will be that the video is a clunker.
That said, equipping yourself with high-quality audio gear is absolutely essential. Think of a top-notch microphone as the zoom lens of audio gear - it gets you close to the action where you can pick up the details you need for a compelling video. A microphone that attaches to your camera’s hot shoe while providing this close-up audio (even from long range), with as little background or wind noise as possible, is the ideal solution.
There are tons of options out there for your video’s audio, but our favorite is Sound Shark. Not only does Sound Shark have the essential qualities noted above, but it also has focused sound that allows it to reject noise coming into the scene from the background and the sides. That means that you can record high-quality audio from a person that’s up to six feet away as if they had a lapel microphone under their chin. And since there’s no cords to mess with, you get that phenomenal sound quality without worrying about trying to hide a microphone cord in your video.
Whether you’re an amateur videographer that just wants to create awesome YouTube videos, a wedding photographer seeking to expand your service offerings to clients, or a bird photographer that’s interested in recording audio of far-off birds, the Sound Shark is a perfect tool for getting the audio your videos (and your viewers) deserve!
Simple Mistakes to Avoid
When shooting stills, it’s just the nature of the game to take a few frames and adjust your exposure settings as you go. But with video, you don’t want to change those settings while shooting. If you do change them, the resulting video will look weird. That means that shooting in program mode, aperture priority, or shutter priority is a no-no, as your exposure settings will automatically change. For the best video results, set your camera to manual mode and stay there.
Another common issue that beginning videographers run into is shooting in vertical format. Naturally, the problem with shooting video in vertical format is that there isn’t a good way to view the video, being that all the devices we use to watch videos are in horizontal format (apart, of course, from our phones). Despite the popularity of watching content on our phones these days, that doesn’t mean you should create vertical format videos. They will look terrible on laptops, tablets, TVs, and the like.
In the end, creating a stunning video is a little more complicated than creating a stunning still photo. It’s still easily doable, however, assuming you have the understanding of videography concepts, the right gear, and you’re able to avoid common mistakes that detract from the quality of your work. Use the tips described above to make the jump from stills to video, and see what magical things you can make happen with your camera’s video function.