Biggest Mistakes Made Shooting Video with DLSR’s

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.

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4 Replies to “Biggest Mistakes Made Shooting Video with DLSR’s”

  1. Great list! As someone who has been shooting films with DSLRs since December ’08, the most important tip I can give photogs turning filmmakers is to stabilize the camera, especially when using non IS lenses. It’s one thing to hold a camera still for a 60th of a second, but it’s a whole different story holding it still for 60 seconds.

  2. 11. Don’t go DOF crazy and shoot at f1.8 all the time, especially with moving subjects. In fact, don’t shoot under f4 unless you want to have many out of focus moments, especially on a full-frame sensor like the Canon 5d. At short distance, and f1.8, your critical focal plane is not much thicker than a thick sheet of glass.

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