Biggest Mistakes Made Shooting Video with DLSR’s

[by Gail Mooney]

I’ve been working quite a bit lately with both the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 7D, shooting video. I’ve been shooting video with traditional video cameras for the last 11 years so I wasn’t in the dark as to how to shoot motion. But I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve made my share of mistakes with these hybrids.

Here are a few to watch out for:
1.    Don’t forget about audio. So many still photographers forget the importance of audio and then what they are left with are a bunch of video clips with lousy or unusable sound.
2.    Don’t capture audio with the camera mic. You’ll never get good sound if you do. I also stay away from plugging in an external mic with the mini stereo plug.
3.    Don’t turn off the camera mic when using an independent audio recorder. It’s always good to have the audio recorded to cards through the camera to use as a reference when syncing the sound later in post.
4.    Don’t discount reading the manuals. A lot of shooters think since they are coming from a photographic background, they don’t need to read the manuals. There are big differences when shooting video – make sure you read the manuals about some of the nuances and avoid making stupid mistakes.
5.    Don’t shoot video like a still photographer. Remember video is time in motion – so let motion play out in the camera. Let subjects move in and out of your frame. Let the camera roll – don’t shoot moments in time.
6.    Don’t forget about the story and sequencing. I usually see the big picture when I’m shooting. I think about the finished completed movie in my mind’s eye so when I’m shooting I’m always thinking about what is coming next – where will I go from this shot – where did I come from. If you don’t think like this then you’ll have a disconnected mess that won’t be easy to edit.
7.    Don’t be sneaky. These cameras look and are still cameras. Don’t deceive people into thinking that you’re not shooting video and/or sound.
8.    Get it right in camera. Unlike still photographs, video doesn’t do as well when it’s over manipulated or corrected in post, especially when trying to crop or enlarge the image.
9.    Don’t skimp on you shots. When shooting b-roll video – you’ll need lots of it to tell the story in post. Shoot different focal lengths as well as angles for variety to cut to.
10.    Don’t shoot verticals. I know, I know there will be some of you that will disagree with me but if you want a vertical – don’t turn the camera sideways – crop the vertical in post. A contradiction perhaps to #9 you say. Well there are always exceptions.
11.    Forget about stabilization – Many photographers think that if they can hold a camera still for 1/30th sec that they can hand hold the camera for video. You need to use a tripod or some kind of a stabilization rig.  Remember video is time in motion with long durations.  Shaky video is the sure sign of an amateur.

Gail Mooney runs a video production company

By Gail Mooney | Posted: January 19th, 2011 | 5 comments


5 Responses to 'Biggest Mistakes Made Shooting Video with DLSR’s'

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  1. Thanks – lots of good advice here – just starting video with my D300s and I’ll pay attention to every one of your points, especially the stabilization warning!

    By Carol MacGregor | Jan 19, 2011


  2. I think not having shaky video is one of the hardest tasks of doing fusion. We use the SteadyTracker, and that works out pretty well for us. If I was doing video only though, I’d probably use a Steadicam.

    So for you, it’s heavy tripod use? Do you ever get moving shots?

    By TJ McDowell | Jan 19, 2011


  3. more video… yawn. We are photographers

    By William Wallis | Jan 20, 2011


  4. I presume you were correct with regard to Biggest Mistakes Made Shooting Video with DLSR’s at Strictly Business. brbr I don’t know that everyone might view the theory in this way needless to say.

    By Angelica Akahi | Jan 23, 2011


  5. I’ve been working with video on my 7D for a bit now, I’ve created a few videos for one of my clients. A few things I’ve learned, including a couple you’ve mentioned;

    ALWAYS get the camera onto a tripod or steadicam (in a pinch I’ve used a weighted Manfrotto magic arm which has worked okay).

    The sound recorded through the camera’s mic is virtually useless as it’s recorded. I’ve begun looking into different alternatives, any suggestions out there? I know of a few shooters using the Zoom H4n. Also, pay attention to the difference in frame rates from audio to video when recorded separately.

    Lighting becomes more challenging when subjects move through your frame. Who doesn’t love a new lighting challenge?

    If you really want to make note of cuts in a video or movie, watch it with the sound turned off. The edits & focal lengths become a lot more apparent.

    Just scratching the surface…

    By Dan | Jan 24, 2011



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