HOW TO FILM WITH A DSLR
DSLR’s have been the wave for filmmakers for years now. Some DSLR cameras offer premium features in the form of megapixels, sensor size, video mode, etc. However, most DSLR’s offer the option of video recording. And in this article we’ll be talking specifically about HOW TO FILM WITH A DSLR.
Without further ado, this is how your film with a DSLR camera:
First, set your DSLR to record/video mode.
FRAMES PER SECOND (FPS)
Most filmmakers choose a DSLR camera because it’s possible to get a “film look” with a DSLR. And of great importance to get a film look is to set your DSLR’s frames per second (fps) to 24. That is, set you cameras frame size/frame rate to 24fps.
In Europe and Asia and some other countries 25fps is recommended for technical reason, but if you’re in the US stick with 24 fps.
The human eye is accustomed to a certain level of motion blur in real life and therefore you need to replicate it in your filming. In order to replicate the motion blur of the human eye your shutter speed needs to be twice that of your frame rate (fps).
Therefore, when shooting at 24fps you shutter speed needs to be 1/50th of a second since your camera doesn’t have an option of 1/48th of a second.
If your shutter speed is more or less than your doubled frame rate, the motion blur will not feel natural.
APERTURE (lens opening)
A cinematic look is closely associated with a shallow depth of field (i.e., a blurred background). In order to obtain this cinematic feel you need a lens with a large aperture. For example, a 50 millimeter lens at a 1.8 aperture opening.
If you don’t have such a lens you can open the aperture on your existing lens as much as you can. The problem is, for example, if you’re shooting outdoor this will allow for too much light to come into your camera. This is due to the increase in shutter speed, thus overblowing (too much light) your filming. You can resolve this by adding an ND filter to your lens. This will bring down your shutter speed.
Now you may need to adjust your aperture once you put on the ND filter. Try 2.8, 4 or 5.6.
ISO is your DSLR’s setting that will brighten or darken your image. When filming a general rule is to keep the ISO as low as possible. If you’re in a dark place where you need more light, don’t bet on increasing your ISO. Instead, add more external lights.
Increase your ISO, too much, and all you’ll get is grainy footage. You won’t see it on your DSLR’s small LCD screen as you’re recording but you will certainly see it once you transfer the footage to a bigger screen, like your laptop.
Go ahead and set your focus, manually. Don’t rely on your camera’s auto focus. It’s not the best and it might keep switching focus on an off through out your shoot. On automatic your camera may even be in focus, but on the wrong subject.
Therefore, set your focus manually.
Now go ahead, hit the red record button and have fun.
We hope that this post was useful and that you may now have the confidence to go out and film with your DSLR. However, if you’d like further details into filming with your DSLR we recommend, available on Amazon, THE DSLR FILMMAKER’S HANDBOOK: REAL WORLD PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES, written by Barry Andersson.
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