DSLR Video Production for Beginners

Photographers and budding film makers are beginning to notice that there is the potential to make money from their photos and videos. Amateur videographers are able to use the same DSLR cameras for videos that the professionals are starting to use for their short films and commercials. You might have bought a DSLR or thinking about buying one and wondering about the video capabilities on it.

Plan the Shoot

Before heading out with your subject, think about the video you’d like to capture. Sit down with a storyboard and decide what scenes will be introduced into the video. That doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous and capture amazing video, but when you head out with a plan, you won’t have to wait for inspiration. If you’re shooting a party or a concert, it’s still possible to plan the action you’d like to capture from the main event to the B-roll, which would include shots that are used when editing. It’s common practice for pros to shoot 20 minutes of footage for a 2 minute bit of film. Don’t forget various shots like close-ups and distance shots to give your film variety.

Shutter Speed

The frame shutter speed depends on the frame rate you’re shooting in on your camera. The shutter speed should be double your frame rate, so if you’re shooting in 30 frames per second, the shutter speed should be 1/60. Shooting at 24 fps means the shutter speed should be 1/50 because it’s rounded up from 1/48. Most videographers like to shoot in 24 fps for cinematic video while 30 fps is common for television. Shooting in 60 fps can be used for beautiful slow motion video when manipulated in a software program. Various density filters can change the light without changing the image. It doesn’t have to be an expensive filter either.


When taking pictures, photographers learn early how to keep the camera steady by using their body or objects in the environment to hold their arms still. In video, you’ll always need a tripod. Built in image stabilization in most DSLR cameras will reduce the shake, but they won’t remove it completely. Even budget DSLR equipment will have image stabilization. There are various types of camera equipment for taking video, but the tripod isn’t like the one used for shooting photos. The video tripod has rollers that allow it to pan and tilt for smooth movements.


There’s a lot to consider when transitioning to video. Everyone has taken a photo in their life, but video can be a hard transition. You’ll need to consider things like the audio when shooting video. The camera’s microphone can pick up strange sounds that you’ve dismissed as common like airplanes overhead, rustling clothing or talking in another room. It’s important to invest in a microphone if you want professional quality video.

The Final Product

Old televisions and video cameras captured video in a 4:3 ratio. With the wide flat screen televisions and monitors available today, that aspect ratio is outdated. It would produce letterboxing on the video, which is when there are black bars around the video so it isn’t stretched to the width of the screen. Wide screen monitors require an aspect ratio of 16:9 to avoid letterboxing. The ratio needed for high definition can be either 1280 x 720 or another ratio could be 1920 x 1080 depending on the camera.

Extra Equipment

When going out to shoot video be sure to bring extra batteries and memory sticks. Video can take up more memory on the camera, and it drains the batteries much quicker since it’s running constantly. You don’t want to be catching the best shot of the day only to find that the battery is about to die. The camera can also overheat when running constantly, so be sure to give it a rest occasionally.

Have Fun

While it’s important to have a plan when heading out to film, it’s just as important to have fun and let the creativity flow. The best shots might come from not planning at all but being ready with your camera to capture amazing footage. It helps to play with the camera’s settings to learn all the ins and outs of the camera so you know its capabilities. Focusing and panning can be tricky if done incorrectly, but the only way to learn is to shoot lots of video. Make note of what works and what doesn’t work with your camera. All digital cameras are different. You’ll need to learn yours.

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