Best DSLR Settings for Video – Quick Start

by Michael Brook

In this video I show you how to set your basic settings for course creation video in your DSLR camera. No matter what the brand there are four major settings you need to know on your camera to get a cinematic look.

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The frame rate, shutter speed, aperture and ISO.

First frame rate.

The frame rate setting used for film depends on where you live. In North America, this is usually 24 frames per second and in most of Europe and Asia this is 25 frames per second.

To set the frame rate in your camera you will need to go to the menu. Of course I don’t know what camera you are using so perhaps be radical and look at the instruction manual.

I’m in the UK so this will be 25 FPS in my cameras. This setting is considered to give a more cinematic look, with just the right amount of movement blur.

Anything higher produces a smoother image. So you might want to go higher for your online courses, 30 or even 60 fps might be perfect for things like vlogs or sports where you want to a more lifelike image.

The next thing you will need to set is the shutter speed. For the best setting for most scenarios simply double your frame rate and choose whichever option is the closest.

So in most cases this will be a shutter speed of 50.

In order to change these settings, in whichever camera you are using, we must first put our camera into manual exposure mode. to do this access the menu. Once again perhaps use the manual for your camera. This gives us access to all of the settings we need to set the shutter speed so set it to 50. Which is 2 x the frame rate…

This shutter speed is how much motion is in each frame and also how long light is allowed to hit our camera sensor.

The third setting you will need to set is the camera’s aperture.

This controls our depth of field and how much light the lens lets into the camera.

You will typically want to set this as low as possible for a cinematic look, this will make your background slightly out of focus and give that nice blurry look.

Notice how a lower number lets in more light and the higher number lets in less light, because it literally has a smaller hole to let light through. Your aperture is measured in f stops and is most useful for setting the depth of field.

The lower the number, for example f4 or even f 2.8 depending on your lens, the less background we actually see in focus; the higher the number, for example f16, the more background we see in focus.

The final major setting is the camera’s ISO.

This setting is the final step for making sure your image is properly exposed or in more simple terms not too dark and not too bright.

The ISO is how sensitive the camera is to light. You can set this by hitting the ISO button on the top of most cameras and then using the dial to change the setting.

You can start off by setting the camera to auto ISO which will try and correct your overall brightness automatically without changing the other settings, however if you are indoors or in dark scenes, this can cause a disgusting and grainy images.

So once you are comfortable you really should set it manually.

ISO digitally boosts the light in the image so you want the lowest setting that you can possibly get while still getting a properly lit image. A low ISO of 100 would be best, as you increase your ISO setting your image gets brighter but it also gets more grainy.

Think of ISO as a last resort for when you simply can’t get the image bright enough by setting the aperture first.

There are more settings to consider too:

These are realistically less important to image recording but more important when thinking about editing your image, and that is White Balance and Colour or Picture Profile.

First is White Balance – you will want to change this from automatic to any other setting that looks good for your scene. So if you are outside perhaps set it to sunny or cloudy and indoors match it to the type of lighting in the room.

The reason is while automatic mode does a decent job it will switch profiles if the lighting changes in your scene. This means your image might change hue half way through the shoot, so to keep this consistent set it manually.

The next is the Picture Profile, the standard image profile – the camera digitally colours the image to provide the saturation and contrast of the image. You may prefer a high saturation and vibrant image, but you can set the picture profile to a more neutral image profile. This can be changed still further by changing the setting in your camera but we will come on to those settings in a later video.

OK, so that is all the basic settings for your camera taken care of. Of course you will have to check the user manual for your camera to change them, although most are similar and these settings work whether it’s a DSLR or mirrorless camera.

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