How To Shoot Better Videos With Your DSLR 1 of 3

I have been getting email after email from our readers saying that they are still photographers and even though their camera can shoot video they either don't think they can figure it out or they are not interested in learning. I may upset some people by saying this but if you have an eye for photography and you refuse to learn the video side of things you are exactly like the photographers 8 years ago that said they would buy digital camera but have no interest in learning Photoshop. Do you know a single successful photographer that can't find his or her way around Photoshop today? I don't. Why limit yourself? Stills and video are merging into one medium and you are lucky enough to be at the forefront of this evolution. You can either learn with all of us at the same time or you can let this pass you by.

3 months ago Patrick and I didn't have the slightest idea how to shoot or edit video but in seeing the importance and the power of this movement we decided to teach ourselves how. It was challenging and frustrating (especially with Nikon gear) but we finally learned enough to produce decent videos quickly. If you own a DSLR that shoots video we are going to make this simple for you. In the next 3 days we are going to release 3 videos that discuss: camera settings, audio, and editing. Today let's start with the camera settings on the D300s. If you shoot Canon I think you have it much easier than us Nikon shooters in this department but we don't want to leave you out. We will post videos we find for you guys as well.

If you shoot Canon this may be of help to you:

Here is our same video on Vimeo

How to shoot better videos with your Nikon D300s 1 of 3 from FStoppers on Vimeo.

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Awesome! I've looked and there is really no videos on how to operate the video on the Nikon's like the way you guys are doing it. I"m tempted to upgrade from my D300 to the D300s just for the video but I'm hopefully waiting for the D700 successor. But I think these videos will really help me learn faster how to utilize the video feature when I upgrade. Can't wait to see the other videos!

Lee Morris's picture

Thanks Dave, we have found that there is a lot of info out there about video on Canon gear but very little on Nikon so hopefully this will help. We are all waiting on the D800, hurry up Nikon!

Thanks for this Insight. Is it the same for the D90?

Must I hold the AE Lock Button the whole time?

Do anybody know, when the firmware of the d90 will be updated to get more manual controls for videofilming?

Lee Morris's picture

Yes this does work for the d90 as well. Set your ae lock button to ae lock (hold) in the menu and now you just have to tap the button to lock the exposure.

Good stuff as always-- you guys are killing it. I don't know anything about Nikons, but I always just shoot on full manual mode with my Canon. Can you not change the aperture on-the-fly when you are in video mode with Nikons? If not, then that's a huge drawback and something Nikon will have to fix. I wouldn't recommend aperture priority mode because then the camera will change your shutter speed. I like to control this myself with video. I'd recommend doing everything manually as long as you can change aperture, shutter, and ISO quickly and easily without having to leave video mode or even stop recording.

Lee Morris's picture

Hey Dave! good to hear from you. That is the problem with Nikon. You cannot choose the SS or the ISO when you shoot video so we had to find a work around. Video on Canon gear is much more advanced and we are waiting for Nikon to catch up.

Patrick Hall's picture

Apparently the D3s flagship camera by Nikon (the only FF video DSLR in the Nikon lineup) has a way to control Shutter Speed but it's not well documented or even advertised. We may need to find some resources on that camera but hopefully a new D700 is on the way and Nikon will allow more custom control over every aspect of the exposure. Fingers crossed!

I believe that you can limit your ISO by engaging auto ISO and setting it to whatever you want the max to be. I have heard this a few places, but haven't had a chance to fully test it myself.

Good one again. I use a d90 and sometimes a d300 and will be getting a d300s soon. So, you guys hit it on a nail again. Cheers guys!


I agree, video and photography will be in the same field for us photographers, so it's time for us to learn how to shoot better videos, and how to edit them. Thanks for the advices!


Mode: LV on freehand
I don´t think that it´s possible to limit the ISO for shooting videos with ISO-auto. I tried to get "dark" videos with f22 and ISO-auto from 200 to 400.

Mode: LV on tripod
It´s possible to get "dark" videos with the same setup.

At the moment I´m not shure what my D300s is doing - what is possible to be set up for filming?

@Lee & Patrick:
Which mode do you use? Freehand or tripod?

Nicely done! There's a book called "From Still to Motion" which was written exactly for still photographers who want to venture into videography. I'm not in any way, shape or form connected to the authors or publisher. I just think it's a good reference.

As an example, it tells you to set the shutter speed to 1/48s (or 1/50) if your DSLR shoots at 24 fps (mine's a Nikon D90) to get a more "classic" film look. There's also information about lighting, audio, grip, etc.

You guys are great pioneers in this medium and your videos have great teaching value. Thanks again.

Thnks for all tips... it was really helpful. :D