Photography Tutorials

DSLR Video Tips - 3 Ways to Accurately Focus Your Camera


How to focus your DSLR when shooting video.

Accurate focus is massively important. It is very off-putting when your subject is even slightly out of focus and it can result in people quickly turning off.

In the video I show you three ways to focus your DSLR. The first is for YouTube style videos like this, the second is shooting on the move using manual focus and the third is using the advanced autofocus features of a new camera like a Canon 80d, Canon 70d or Canon 700d with face detection.

Like any photography, the most important thing to get in focus is your subjects' eyes if you are filming people.


In a static situation like this, or an interview, where your subject is not moving manual focus is the best way. Before shooting a video set up something like a light stand or a microphone stand. Position it as close to where your eyes will be as possible. This will be the point where You focus the camera.

Once that is set move over to the camera, switch on live view, position the focus area on the stand at the point where the eyes were positioned, zoom into 10x and then use the auto focus to accurately focus in. Lock the focus into manual before returning to the original position. This is a good way to ensure your focus is accurate to a very fine margin. Remember do not then adjust your position, or the camera position, or you will have to go through the process again.

Manual Focus

This sounds complicated but is actual very simple. Put your camera into manual focus mode and start filming. Use the focus ring to adjust focus as necessary for your shot. Extra accessories like a follow focus, magnifying screen or external monitor can make this easier. You can also shoot with a smaller aperture so your depth of field is large. This means your focus does not have to be quite as accurate.

Auto Focus

The last way is using autofocus on newer cameras like the Canon 700d or the Canon 70d or Canon 80d. With face detection switched on the cameras do a pretty good job of keeping you in focus but you can also tap the screen to focus into that area. Combined with the new STM lenses this makes auto-focusing a real pleasure although sometimes it will hunt around going in and out of focus for no apparent reason.

The method of focus you use is entirely up to you but having the ability to use all three will ensure you are armed to focus your DSLR whilst shooting video in almost any situation.

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Best DSLR Video Settings


Make Movies with these DSLR Video Settings A lot of questions have come in recently about video. So for the next week and a bit we’re going to be looking at various aspects of creating videos. In this video we look at basic DSLR video settings.

Shooting video is becoming more and more popular whether we are doing it with our iPhones or our cameras. A recent surge in vlogging and daily updates on Snapchat means there is more video being shot than ever before.

Most DSLR cameras can now shoot video and they can offer extremely high quality video, especially when attached to a nice large aperture lens. This can go a long way to elevating your videos above others in this very noisy world. The controls can often seem complicated so getting the right settings for DSLR video can can seem daunting.

The first rule is unlike photography as we do not really want to use shutter speed to affect our exposure. The shutter speed must be set according to the frame rate we are using. A frame rate of 24 or 25 fps will mean we need a shutter speed of 1/50 second. You effectively need to double the frame rate. If you are shooting at 30fps then you will need 1/60 sec.  When shooting at 60fps you will want 1/125 and so on.

24fps is what is used to make movies and is often described as having a filmic look. 25fps and 30fps have a very similar look that is more like real life. Which of these you use will depends on where you live as they hark back to the frequency of the power line coming into your house, whether it is 50hz or 60hz. It gets overly technical but most of the world will be using 25fps where as the US, Canada and much of south america will use 30fps. This is effectively the difference between PAL and NTSC.

ISO settings for video will ideally be 160 or multiples of this i.e. 320, 640 or 1250. This is not a hard and fast rule but they seem to create less noise in videos than the other settings. In some circumstance auto ISO may work for you.

The aperture setting for video can then be used creatively to achieve the background blur you are looking for but often you will have stop down to get proper exposure. If you want a shallow depth of field in bright conditions then you will need to add a neutral density filter to cut down the light coming in.

Most consistent results will be achieved by using manual focus. Most films and tv shows are filmed with manual focus using a person to ‘pull focus’. Some new cameras like the 70 and 80D have more sophisticated autofocus systems that are very effective.

DSLR cameras do not currently capture RAW when shooting video. There is therefore little chance to change the colour, contrast, exposure and white balance as we do with stills. Getting your dslr video settings right at the point of shooting is therefore extremely important. Set your white balance according to the conditions and then set your picture style. The portrait setting picture style it good for taking footage straight out the camera but if you want to make changes in post-processing it is best to shoot the image a flat as possible. This means reducing the contrast, saturation and sharpness right down.

The settings I use produce a nice flat image that then gives me good control in post.

  • Sharpness down to zero
  • Contrast down to zero
  • Saturation down half way
  • Colour Tone leave as it is

On some cameras you can then save these settings as a preset to then have easy access to them next time you come to shoot video on your DSLR camera.

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