TIPS for shooting video with a Canon or other DSLR camera

DSLR Settings for Video

  • Frame rate: 30fps (may be listed as 29.97fps, depending on your camera) 
  • Size/pixels: 1920 x 1080
  • Shutter speed: start at 60
  • ISO: 160 (higher only if needed)
  • Aperture: start at lowest number (usually around 3.5) for a shallow depth of field and more light

The ISO controls the exposure by using software in the camera to make it extra sensitive to light. A high ISO such as ISO 1,600 will produce a brighter picture than a lower ISO such as ISO 100. The drawback to increasing the ISO is that it makes the picture noisier. Digital noise is apparent when a photo looks grainy. 

The shutter is a small “curtain” in the camera that quickly rolls over the image sensor (the digital version of film) and allows light to shine onto the imaging sensor for a fraction of a second. The longer the shutter allows light to shine onto the image sensor, the brighter the picture since more light is gathered. A shutter speed of 1/2 of a second will allow more light to touch the image sensor and will produce a brighter picture than a shutter speed of 1/200 of a second.

The aperture is a small set of blades in the lens that controls how much light will enter the camera. A high f-stop like f-22 means that the aperture hole is quite small, and a low f-stop like f/3.5 means that the aperture is wide open.

Canon Instructions

First set the camera to Video mode, then press Menu. Under Movie Exposure, set it to Manual. Under Movie Rec. Size choose 1920×1080 30 fps. 

White Balance 

Custom White Balance 

Shutter & Aperture (the camera is already set to Manual, just use the dials to adjust) 

ISO Speed


(this also applies to the 70D, and other DSLRs)

Camera settings for video: 



  • Make sure the video size/resolution is set to 1920 x 1080 30fps.
  • When you are framing your shots, remember that video is horizontal. If you shoot vertically, you’ll have black bars on either side of your image.
  • To focus, zoom in on your focal point, manually adjust the focus, then zoom out.
  • Try to avoid using the “Auto focus” setting. Manually focus your shots, so you don’t get jumps in focusing.
  • Video gets cropped – even the best new flat screen TV can crop your image around the edges. Be sure that anything important happens within the “action safe” area and not at the very edge of your frame.
  • Just because you see life at eye level, don’t confine the camera there – the placement of the camera is one of the most important aspects of shooting video. It is the statement of what the scene represents and how the audience is supposed to view this particular situation.
  • Sometimes a shot will look flat when it is projected, even though it looked good to you in the viewfinder. While our eyes view the set and actors in stereo, we are dealing with a monocular system of recording and display. A good solution is to look at a scene through only one eye when you shoot it.
  • Video does not handle high-contrast ratios well – it’s best to avoid really bright whites or dark darks unless you are going for a particular effect.
  • Always remember to white balance your shots.
  • Avoid clothes with large white areas. Also avoid thin stripes, checks or herringbone patterns if possible.
  • Only zoom if you have a really good reason.
  • The tripod is your friend – only shoot handheld for a really good reason.
  • If in doubt, work with a partner and use multiple cameras – the more coverage the better.


  • Handle the lights in the light kit with gloves and never touch the bulbs inside without gloves even if they are cool – they get so hot that the oil from your hands and fingerprints will burn off, and could cause the bulb to explode.
  • As the sun moves across the sky it changes color and temperature. This may not be picked up by your eyes, but it will be picked up by the camera.
  • Different light sources have different colors and temperatures (fluorescent light is green, daylight is blue). Don’t mix them together, it will wreak havoc with your white balance.
  • Fill panels (boards used to bounce or reflect light) can be made from almost anything (foam core, drawing pads, cardboard boxes). Improvise!

Remember, Good editing can’t fix bad video.

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