How to use your camera for video.
Creating video content for your business can feel daunting, even to those with some experience.
The fear and uncertainty of equipment and direction often prevent businesses from getting started in the first place which gives competitors that use video the upper hand.
Even if you don’t have the budget to hire a video marketing agency or production company, video should still be an important part of your digital marketing strategy.
So, what do you do when you don’t have the budget to hire an agency or hire professional equipment? You use what’s in your pocket. Your iPhone.
Shooting with your iPhone.
Your iPhone can be a powerful tool when creating video for your business. We won’t focus on iPhone video too much, but here are some tips to help you shoot video using your iPhone.
Ensure you have enough storage
Enable Do Not Disturb mode (you don’t want notifications popping up while you film)
Flip your phone horizontally to create the best viewing experience
Move close enough to your subject so you don’t have to use the zoom feature. Zooming will often lower the quality of the end product, making it pixelated and blurry.
Lock the exposure before you press record to avoid needing to continually adjust the focus. To do this, hold your finger down on the subject of the video until a yellow box appears with the words “AE/AF Lock”.
iPhones are great when shooting on the move or when you are just dipping your toes in the water with film, but when you are ready to take your videos to the next level, you have three choices.
You can either hire a video agency like Dimartec, buy/rent a prosumer camera, or buy/rent a professional camera.
Shooting with Prosumer and Professional Cameras.
With so many digital cameras around and all of the various settings and lenses which make each one slightly different, there are a ton of different options. We have gathered a few options to help you pick the right tool.
Let’s start with some definitions.
Prosumer cameras are the bridge between the standard compact camera and the more advanced professional cameras. They are great for people who want to just pick up the camera and press record without having to worry about settings. The lenses are generally fixed too.
Prosumer cameras are good, but you want to make sure that the camera in your pocket, your phone, isn’t already better than the one you pick.
Professional cameras, like DSLRs (digital single-lens reflex), give you great control over manual settings and enable you to achieve the shallow depth of field that viewers love.
While DSLRs are generally used for photography, they are also compact, work great in low light, and offer versatility with a range of lenses - making them perfect for shooting video.
On the other hand, DSLRs do require some extra learning and often the purchase of new lenses to suit your needs.
When you are in the market for a new camera to shoot your videos with, make sure you do plenty of research. Read lots of reviews, watch video tutorials and if it’s a big investment, you might want to consider hiring the camera when you need it.
Here are some research starting points:
Understanding Your Camera’s Manual Settings.
If you choose a DSLR camera there are a few settings you need to understand before shooting. The following information covers the basics in a bit of detail but should be backed with some of your own research.
With so much information out there, spending the time to get to know your camera and how to use its settings will allow you to be more creative and get better footage.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that there will be different methods for adjusting your camera’s settings based on your make and model, so always refer to the instruction manual.
In this section, we will cover; frame rate, shutter speed, ISO, aperture and white balance.
The most basic customisation option when it comes to frame rate is shooting your video in 24 frames per second (fps) or 30fps. Video experts claim 24fps gives a more cinematic look, while 30fps is more commonly used, especially in business.
When you have spoken to the relevant stakeholders to decide on a frame rate, you should ensure that your resolution is at least 1920 x 1080 to maintain quality footage, although 1440p and 4k are becoming more prevalent with users wanting premium viewing experience. To learn more about screen resolution, click here.
Once you have set your frame rate and resolution on your camera, it is time to figure out the aperture, shutter speed and ISO. To configure these settings, switch your camera to manual from automatic.
Aperture, shutter speed and ISO are three variables which work in tandem to form the exposure triangle.
The exposure triangle describes how each of them relates to light and how the light interacts with the camera.
Aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens which directly impacts the amount of light reaching the sensor. Aperture is measured in what’s known as an f-stop. The larger the f-stop number, the less open the lens is, while a small f-stop number means the lens is more open.
When there’s a lot of light coming into the camera (a low f-stop number), you get a brighter image and a shallower depth of field. That’s great if you want the subject to stand out against a background.
When less light comes into the camera you get a deeper depth of field and are able to maintain focus across a larger portion of your frame.
When taking a photo, shutter speed refers to the amount of time the camera’s sensor is exposed to light, or how quickly it ‘blinks’. If you’ve ever seen a perfect photo of a luxury car going super fast, the chances are the shutter speed was very fast.
Shutter speed is measured in fractions of seconds - the greater the denominator of the fraction the faster the shutter speed. For example, 1/1000 is faster than 1/50.
To understand how shutter speed affects your video, a little math is involved. First you multiply your frame rate by 2. If you’re shooting in 30fps, multiply by 2 and you get 60. So, 60 becomes the denominator of your shutter speed fraction.
Shutter speed is only available in certain increments so you’ll need to round to the closest setting from time to time.
However, for the sake of ease, here are some common shutter speeds and how to calculate them:
24fps/25fps x 2, equals a shutter speed of 1/50
30fps x 2, equals a shutter speed of 1/60
60fps x 2, equals a shutter speed of 1/125
There’s a deeper science attached to shutter speed for video, so there’s definitely some room to learn more and tweak the settings to attain your desired effect.
Finally, the third component in the exposure triangle is ISO; which measures the camera’s sensitivity to light; or more specifically, the camera sensor’s sensitivity to light. On your camera, you’ll see settings referred to with numbers in the hundreds or thousands (200, 800, 1600).
The higher the number, the more sensitive the sensor will be to light, and vice versa. ISO also affects the graininess of the image. Low ISO’s create a sharper shot than a high ISO number, which will create noisier and grainier shots.
When deciding on which ISO number to set, consider how well the environment is lit. If you’re outside and the subject is well-lit, a lower ISO number is preferred. Perhaps around 200. If you’re indoors and the room is dim-lit, you’ll need to increase the ISO number. Just be careful you don’t end up with a super grainy shot.
You should be able to see how the exposure triangle works in harmony at this stage. For example, if you have a low-lit situation, you may choose a lens that can shoot with a low f-stop to let more light into the camera and avoid making the shot grainy with a high ISO setting.
If this is your first time dealing with the exposure triangle, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed. It takes time to understand them all individually, let alone together.
However, if you’re trying to get to grips with these settings quickly, turn your camera from video to photo mode. Take lots of pictures of the same object or scene and change each setting incrementally.
Eventually, after 30 minutes of playing around with these settings, you’ll have a clearer idea of what these settings mean and how they interrelate and affect your video.
Finally, when you have a better idea of how things work, decide on a process to follow every time you shoot video.
Everyone’s different, but if you’re just starting out; set your shutter speed based on the math on the previous page, then adjust the aperture according to the depth of field you want to create, and finally set the ISO. If you need to make any adjustments at this stage, go back to the shutter speed for any fine adjustments.
While the exposure triangle forms the foundational three aspects of photography and videography, there is another piece of the puzzle that’s just as important; white balance.
White balance describes the colour temperature of the environment to your camera. Different types of light have different colours. For example, incandescent light bulbs have a very warm colour. Fluorescent lights are a bit cooler, and daylight is even cooler than that. Before you begin shooting, you may need to adjust your camera’s white balance according to your settings.
The precise settings on your camera will depend on the model, but there’s likely an auto option, a bunch of presets (daylight, cloudy, tungsten, etc) and custom. You should avoid auto white balance and choose a preset or custom instead.
If you have a top-grade DSLR, you may be able to set the colour temperature of your scene manually, measured in Kelvin.
You don’t want to overlook your white balance settings as it will help you create the perfect shot. This image shows the difference that adjusting the white balance can have on one picture.
Focus is also an important setting to keep in mind before shooting. With a DSLR you can shoot with autofocus or manual focus. It depends on the camera and lens you’re working with, but generally, autofocus is not the most accurate. So, set your lens to manual focus.
Use (+) or (-) to enlarge the viewfinder and focus on your subject’s face. Then, adjust the focus on the lens. For shooting a stationary setup, focus on the subject’s eyelashes. That way you can be sure your footage is sharp and clear.