We give you a few pointers that should make shooting with your EOS camera a little smoother

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Shooting movies with Canon’s range of EOS DSLRs can sometimes be a challenge… For example, what do you do if you get a red blinking warning on your rear LCD panel? Why should you save thumbnail files when shooting with an EOS 5D Mark III? OR What is the best white balance setting to choose? Below we give a short guide to just a few of the settings that will hopefully help you to get a little bit more out of your EOS DSLR movie workflow…

Check your exposure before zooming

When shooting movies with a zoom lens attached to your EOS DSLR it is very tempting to zoom in on subjects when you’re recording. Before doing this you should first of all test to make sure the exposure will not change as you zoom. With a variable aperture lens zooming may cause the maximum aperture to reduce, which will cause your footage to darken. Even with a fixed aperture lens that doesn’t alter during zooming, you may find the footage darkens simply due to less light reaching the camera’s sensor. This can lead to exposure changes being recorded. If in doubt, always test first to make sure your exposure doesn’t change.

Temperature warnings explained – when to cool down

Like all Canon EOS DSLRs that shoot movies the EOS 5D Mark III has a temperature warning – it will inform you when, due to extended movie recording, the sensor is becoming too hot. However, the EOS 5D Mark III has two types of warnings – a white temperature gauge and a red gauge. If the white gauge appears on the rear LCD screen, it is fine to continue recording movies. In this case the image quality of stills may be reduced, so you should either avoid taking still images or wait for the camera to cool down. If the temperature increases further, a blinking red icon may appear on the LCD screen. If this happens movie recording will soon shut off automatically in order to avoid damaging the camera’s sensor. In this case you must turn the camera off, and allow it to cool down, before resuming the shoot.

Movie file types for in-camera playback

When you shoot movies on an EOS DSLR the camera will create two files – the movie file (.MOV) and a thumbnail file (.THM). If you’re simply going to transfer the files to your computer to edit them there is no harm in deleting the .THM files – your computer won’t need them to play back the movies. However, if you plan on putting ‘RAW’ movie files back on to the camera for playback, you’ll need to make sure you keep the associated .THM file. Without the thumbnail file the camera will be unable to play the movie file back.

HD Movie recording sizes

Making the best compression choices

With the EOS 5D Mark III Canon introduced compression settings in the movie shooting settings to go along with the resolution and frame rate selection. The two options are IPB and ALL-I. Essentially, IPB is a compressed setting, a lot like the files from an EOS 5D Mark II, whereas ALL-I is an intra-frame codec where every frame is treated as a key frame and is uncompressed. ALL-I footage will be roughly three times larger than IPB. Which compression setting you choose will depend on your needs but if you need to keep file sizes down IPB is probably the best choice. For almost all other uses ALL-I is the best choice because the resulting footage is easier to edit on lower powered computers and produces better image quality by allowing you to edit more accurately on a frame-by-frame basis.

White Balance settings for smoother workflow

When shooting movies on EOS DSLRs you should pay attention to white balance and ideally use either a Custom White Balance setting or one of the presets, rather than using the Auto White Balance function. This is because if the aperture or ISO value is changed during shooting, the white balance setting may also change – this can make it harder to process your footage afterwards. With a preset or Custom White Balance setting, the white balance will not change if the aperture or ISO changes, thus helping to make your post-production workflow much more straightforward.

Keep it manual!

When filming with EOS DSLRs you’ll normally want to set shutter speed, aperture and ISO values manually to ensure they are ‘locked in’ and won’t change during shooting. If you’re unable to set the ISO speed, quickly check the shooting mode on your camera as in the Auto (green square), P, aperture priority (Av), shutter priority (Tv) and BULB modes the ISO speed will be set automatically. To avoid this simply make sure your camera is in manual (M) mode so you retain full control over all your exposure settings.