If you want to shoot video with your camera, but don't know where to start, read our guide on how to start shooting with a DSLR.

Have you been interested in trying out the video mode on your camera but haven’t been sure exactly how to set your camera up for video? Perhaps you didn’t even realise there was anything different you may need to do.

In this video Nigel Atherton talks about the basics of setting up your DSLR for video shooting.

There are some very obvious ways to go wrong when you take your camera out. Forgetting vital kit such as the right size and speed of memory card, as well as not taking fully charged batteries are two sure fire ways to ruin a shooting opportunity. If you’ve got the right media and enough battery power, the next thing you want to do is activate the video mode.

Switching to the video mode varies from camera to camera, so familiarise yourself with your own camera. Many cameras, like the Canon EOS 7D mark ii and Panasonic Lumix GH4 have dedicated switches for video functionality to make things easier. These are normally located on the camera’s mode dial on the top, or near the viewfinder on the back of the camera.

The next thing you want to do is set the camera’s exposure mode to Manual. This is because we want maximum control over the camera’s settings during video recording. The main reason for this is for consistency. We don’t want the camera to change settings whilst we’re recording, and we want to be able to repeat the settings that we’ve choose. Shooting in manual mode is the best way to record video clips that have consistent exposure from shot-to-shot.

If you need tips for which manual settings to choose, watch our shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity intro videos. You’ll want to set your shutter speed according to the frame rate you’ve chosen and the aperture will be determined by the amount of light there is in the scene, as well as how much of the background you want in focus. For the best quality video, set your ISO to the minimum sensitivity that the lighting conditions will allow.

You should also set white balance manually; there are a number of presets you can choose. But for best results, try and choose the precise colour temperature by selecting the Kelvin option and adjusting the white balance more finely. We will discuss white balance more in-depth in a separate article.


For basic shooting, you can start now. But if you want to go a step further, shoot in a neutral picture profile. Again, the way to change this setting will vary between cameras, so refer to your manual. Shooting in a neutral picture profile, reducing the contrast and saturation, and lowering the sharpness to 0, will give you a more flexible video to colour grade during the editing process.

Now, it’s time to pick your movie record size. There will be a host of options available, and normally you’ll want to pick high definition, or even ultra high resolution or 4K – the best quality settings available. But you may be limited by card size or perhaps you’re only shooting video to be uploaded to a standard definition video streaming internet page. Whatever the case may be, choose the resolution size that’s most appropriate for where and how you want to display your video.

Many cameras will have options for adjusting audio controls, as we did with the exposure settings, we would recommend setting the audio record levels to manual so that sound doesn’t rise and dip whilst you’re recording. We would also recommending monitoring your audio with headphones if possible. If not, check the display on your camera and make sure that the audio signal isn’t too loud. If you’re not careful, it’ll distort and produce an unattractive audio track.

Finally, set your camera lens to Manual Focus, autofocus can be unpredictable so focusing manually will help you keep your viewer’s attention on right subject at all times.

Now your camera should be set up and ready to go. Please check out our other videos and articles for more video making tips.