This one’s for all you aspiring DSLR users out there.  I want to go over a simple but vital function you must understand to get the right shot that you are looking for while using these camera’s.  The great thing about a DSLR camera is that you have full flexibility to put just about any lens on it and you can get cinema quality content with it.  The downside is that everything is manual in video mode so if you are looking for a camera to shoot home movies with you might want to do some research first.

Anyway, one important feature when shooting video is controlling your shutter speed.  In photography the shutter speed simply controls how long the shutter stays open to get the shot.  The smaller the number for the shutter speed the longer the shutter is open which in turn will cause blurriness if the shot is unstable.  In video it’s a little different.  Think of the shutter like a fan.  The higher the shutter speed, the faster the fan moves, which gives you a little more ridgedness to the shot.  The best example for this is Saving Private Ryan.  If you watch this film you will see that the action is very defined and quick.  The slower the shutter speed, the slower the shutter moves and then if can create blur, or ghosting.  Basically you are telling the camera how often to capture footage per second.

Let’s put this into a little better perspective.  When you are in video mode on a Canon 60D you have 3 HD options.  You can shoot in 60 fps at 720p or at 30 or 24 fps at 1080p.  The rule of thumb is that you should set your shutter speed to double the fps so if you are shooting a 24 fps then you want to set your shutter speed at 50.  This will give you the most realistic looking shot.  If you set the shutter speed lower than 50 in this situation then you will begin to see long ghost trails in the footage.  You never really want this.  On the other hand, if you raise the shutter speed to about 320 then the shots will lose any motion blur and they will be more like a picture.

One good way to test this is to shoot some footage of a hand waving back and forth at 24 fps at a shutter speed of 30, freeze the frame, and then capture footage at 24 fps with a shutter speed of 320 and freeze that frame.  You will notice that in the first shot at shutter speed 50 you will see slight motion blur behind the hand.  This is natural and looks normal in time.  If you freeze the second video you will see no blur and it will just look like a picture.

There is much more to come on how to get the right exposure while shooting video with a DSLR.