Basic Rules of Filming with a DSLR How to set up your camera correctly for film.

Filming on a DSLR- This is not photography.

Using any camera is a skill that takes time to develop and its important that you start developing your skill set and understanding of these cameras so that you can get out there and film.

Manual Settings

These are the basic technical areas, that you will need to consider when setting up a DSLR for moving image.

  • Frames per second- How many pictures are being taken per second to create movement.
  • Shutter Speed- How quickly light is entering the camera.
  • Aperture- How much light is entering through the lens, plus also your depth of field.
  • ISO- How sensitive the cameras sensor is to light.

This guide is to be used when setting up any camera, these are the rules but remember rules can be broken......

Getting Out Of Auto.

Getting Out of "Auto" & into "Manual"

Getting out of 'auto' settings is key to gaining more creative control over moving image. The idea is that you want to create a "film look". This is done through a series of settings and having a round understanding of how a camera works.

You will need to place the dial at the top of your camera onto the 'M' setting. On most Canon there is a marker at top, to the left of the dial and to the right of the view finder. Make sure that the letter 'M' is positioned here.
Resolution- The quality of your film

Resolution and Aspect Ratios.

Its really important that you understand the concept of resolutions, as these will ultimately effect the quality of your work and the amount of footage you can capture on a card.

On all of your DSLR cameras you will have to set the 'Record Format" to a resloution that you want. A general rule of thumb is to film at 1080p as this means that you can compress this down to 720 if you need to, but you could not bump-up the resolution if you had captured at 720.

Frames per second (fps) denotes how many images are rolling through the camera per second. 24 frames per second to create the illusion of movement. Your cameras mostly work in 24,25,50,60 fps.

This video explains clearly how the illusion of movement is created. By using the right amount of frames per second a trick is created and fools your brain into thinking the picture is moving.

Normally we work on 24/25-30 fps when filming. There are higher rates available such as 50/60fps and from watching this video you will understand that it increases the detail. However you need to consider the shutter speed which is the next section. Its pretty easy to work it out.

Shutter Speeds- How fast you are letting light into the camera and capturing the image. Its fairly easy to work out shutter speeds for film as they are different to photography... You just apply the 180 degree rule.... Whats the 180 degree rule? You ask watch this video and its super simple to understand.

Using the right is so important not only for the look and depth of field but also for the functionality of it. You need to consider aperture or in film we call it an f-stop ( this relates to the opening) but it is effectively the same thing.

ISO- Choosing how sensitive to make your camera to light. Start following the ISO rules to not damage your film

Say NO to the grain of ISO...

ISO= International Organisation for Standardisation. This is a set of international standards that we as filmmakers & photographers use when setting sensitivity

Watch this video to understand how to use ISO correctly.

My image/film is too dark can I turn the ISO up?


Historically students have always started off making the same mistake with how they use the ISO settings. What usually happens is the ISO is turned up to make the image brighter. However this is wrong. What you need to consider are two things;

White Balance- We do this so the camera so that the colours of white light are not discolored. Dependent on the camera there are several ways to do this.......

This video shows the basic method to set a white balance on a Canon 600D. The 600D only allows for white balance through either taking a photo of grey/white card, or using the pre-defined settings in the white balance setting.

For those of you with cameras that have access to Kelvin balancing or you just want to go into greater depth of white balancing this footage below explains it fully.

This page is designed to get you started with the basic bedrock of setting up your camera for film. Here are the top tips: Manual setting---- 1080P resoultion- 24-30fps for normal motion-- times your fps x2 and then round it up and this will give you, your shutter speed. Use the correct lens. And finally make sure you are using the correct ISO so that you don't get grain. Start making films with DSLR's.
Created By
Rebecca Stewart


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