How to Set Up Your Camera for Video Shooting

In this insightful video guide, Melbourne-based photographer Neal Walters from the Canon Collective shares his advice on the best camera settings for shooting quality video.


First Things First: Switching to Video Mode


Setting Up Your Canon Camera for Video Shooting with Neal Walters

The first step is to make sure your camera is switched to Video mode. On some Canon cameras this can be done via the switch near the Start/Stop button, while on other cameras, it can be found on the top-left dial. This will put your camera into Live View and allow you to see how your footage will look on the rear LCD screen. Also note that, when shooting in Video mode, it’s important to use Manual mode. This will give you complete control over all your video settings.


Dial in Your Video Quality Settings

For the highest quality results, especially if you plan to invest more time in editing your footage, you will want to shoot in 4K.

Once in Video mode, click the Menu button and go to the fourth red menu to access the video recording quality section. This is where you can set up all of the most important video recording features, such as:


.MOV vs .MP4


Setting Up Your Canon Camera for Video Shooting

By selecting the .MOV video shooting mode you will have access to your camera’s highest quality 4K and full HD video features. Your camera’s .MP4 mode won’t give you a 4K shooting option, however it is typically better to shoot in this mode if you don’t want to spend too much time editing your footage after your shoot.


Select Your Movie Recording Video Size and Quality

Decide whether you’d like to shoot your video in Full HD or 4K. For the highest quality results, especially if you plan to invest more time in editing your footage, you will want to shoot in 4K. In the Full HD menu, there are two options: the ‘For Editing (ALL I)’ Full HD and the ‘Standard (IPB)’ Full HD. If you want to shoot video that’s ready to go straight out of your camera onto your social media channels then you will want to use the ‘Standard (IPB)’ mode. If you plan to edit your footage then you will want to go with the ‘For Editing (ALL I)’ option.


Select a Frame Rate

Displayed as ‘fps’, frames per second, your frame rate changes the look and feel of your video footage. A low frame rate such as 24 fps will give your video a filmic look, while higher frame rates like 60 fps and 120 fps will allow you to slow down your footage in post-production.


Set Up Your Video Focus Settings

With photography, it’s easier to select a Picture Style and then edit it or change it later, but with video it’s really important to get it right in-camera.

Movie Servo AF

Setting Up Your Canon Camera for Video Shooting

When recording audio with your camera’s internal microphone, it’s recommended to disable your Movie Servo Autofocus function. This will eliminate the noise that your lens makes while hunting for focus. If you’re using an external microphone then you can enable your Movie Servo AF without picking up the sound of your lens focussing.

AF Method

If you decide to enable your Movie Servo AF then you will need to decide which AF method to use. The Face+Tracking mode will help find and hold focus on your subject. With a wide a focus area, the FlexiZone - Multi makes it easy to focus on moving subjects, while the FlexiZone - Single is effective for focussing on a particular subject.

Choose a Picture Style Setting

With photography, it’s easier to select a Picture Style and then edit it or change it later, but with video it’s really important to get it right in-camera. Once you have chosen your Picture Style, whether it be Landscape, Portrait or Monochrome, you can customise the look by hitting the Info button and editing the settings. If you plan to edit your footage then it’s worth creating a flatter image style, similar to a RAW photo file, which will be easier to edit later on. This can be done by reducing the saturation, highlights and/or contrast, for example. If you’d rather not edit your footage then consider going with the standard Landscape or Portrait Picture Styles, which will help you create videos that you can use straight out of camera.

Adjust Your White Balance

White balance is also important to get right in-camera. Unlike photos, it’s not so easy to edit your video’s white balance later on. In your white balance menu, toggle right all the way to the ‘K’ symbol, which stands for kelvin. Generally speaking, the best custom white balance setting to use for daytime shooting would be 5500 kelvin, which will give you a warmer tone. At nighttime, a kelvin of around 3200 will give you a cooler, more blue tone.


Dial in Your Shutter Speed, Aperture and ISO

Shutter Speed

One of the most important things to remember when shooting video is that your shutter speed should be set to double your frame rate. This will help you achieve smooth, cinematic-looking motion. It will also ensure you don’t get any light flicker in your shots. For example, if you’re shooting at 50 fps, your shutter speed should be dialled in at 1/100. If shooting at 60 fps, your shutter speed should be 1/120 or 1/125.

Aperture

Your aperture setting allows you to control depth-of-field and how much of your shot is in focus. For example, a low aperture of f/2.8 will help you isolate your subject and create a nice blurry background. A higher aperture number such as f/22 will put everything in focus, which is useful when shooting landscapes or big groups of people.

ISO

Setting Up Your Canon Camera for Video Shooting

Your ISO setting allows you to control the sensitivity of your camera. The higher your ISO, the brighter your video is going to be. But remember that the higher your ISO number is, the granier and less detailed your video will be.

Hit Record and Start Filming

Once you have all of these settings dialled in, simply hit the Start/Stop or red record button and start shooting your video!

Learn more about videography with Neal's tutorial series.

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