Adding Video Skills

Lately I have had a lot of questions in my photography classes about video. Now I do not pretend to be a video expert- that would be my daughter’s medium of choice. However, with HDMI video recording capabilities and the advent of hybrid products offered by professional photographers, the time has come to understand more about what digital video, editing and the technology have to offer.

With the pursuit of knowledge in sight, I spent the weekend really trying to understand what my Nikon D300s was capable of when shooting video. What creative choices were at my disposal and try to understand how sstill photography and digital video are interrelated.

Here is what I have discovered:

  1. There is no exposure meter to worry about. In Manual, I can set the shutter speed and choose the aperture for my desired depth-of-field and I can control the exposure of the scene by readjusting the aperture, adjusting the ISO, using the exposure compensation button or applying neutral density filters to the lens. There is also a video brightness adjustment.
  2. I saw more of a difference in depth-of-field with my choice of focal length than I did with my choice of aperture. This surprised me. However, I still need to work more with several lenses and aperture combinations to determine of this holds true across all lens choices.
  3. My choice of shutter speed will have an effect on how the action is perceived. Using the standard 180 degree shutter rule (fps x 2=shutter speed), if you choose to shoot at 30 frames per second (fps), for natural motion your shutter speed should be 1/60 of a second. If you are shooting at 24fps, you should shoot at 1/48 of a second (the closest shutter speed is 1/50).  If you decide to break the 180 degree rule, your motion may well be too fast and have a stuccato or jerky look to it. The video link shows a great illustration of the two. Thanks Nick Jossendal for the comparison. 180 Degree Rule video link to Vimeo
  4. You can also control your white balance while shooting video. This is important to note. If you do not have access to higher end software, you may not be able to correct any color imbalance after you shoot the video. Setting it right in camera will save you time and effort later on anyway, so just get in the habit for stills and video. Learn how to custom white balance too. It is good to know for those difficult lighting situations.
  5. Check your focus capabilities. On the Nikon D300s, you can auto-focus while recording only in Tripod Mode. In Hand-held Mode you will have to auto focus before recording and manually focus while shooting .
  6. Since most cameras utilize SD cards for recording videos, it is incumbent upon the consumer to understand the limitations behind the various SD logos/designations. The SD Association has a website with information and resources for quick reference. As a general rule of thumb, if your camera requires an SDHC card with a speed class of 4, make sure you get one that has a 10 inside a C (speed-class) for the greatest performance. The speed class requirements are minimum requirements for optimum performance. So you could buy a card with a speed class of 4, 6 or 10.
  7. Finally, I have been having a great time editing my clips using Adobe Photoshop CS6. The ability to crop, use adjustment layers, add effects and create fun video projects using stills and video  is amazing in CS6. Lightroom 4 and higher will allow a certain amount of editing but it is not nearly as powerful an editing tool as Photoshop. Here are a couple of early projects I created using CS6.


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