Shooting in the auto mode of your camera is easy as a pie! However, if you want to make more impressive frames in your video, you need to learn how to use manual camera settings.
Unless you are completely new to cameras, you know about settings like ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. You can customize these settings and create different effects and looks. Additionally, using the right manual settings always gives you much better quality images and videos.
Today, we will explore the 5 most essential camera settings you must know to become a vlogger. We will take up each setting in detail and tell you everything you need to know.
Let's start with the most important setting in your camera.
ISO is the key setting to take proper images. ISO simply refers to your camera's sensitivity to light. You must have seen camera ISO values like ISO 200, ISO 600, and ISO 16,000. The higher the value, the more will be the light in the image.
Modern digital cameras can shoot at very high ISOs. How does ISO work?
ISO compensates for the loss of light by making your sensor more sensitive to light. That being said, you should always select the proper ISO. Otherwise, you will end up with grains on your image as your camera makes up for the lack of light by introducing "noise." However, that doesn't mean your videos should turn out too dim!
Use the right ISO value that helps you use the correct aperture and shutter speed. Along with ISO, the aperture settings and the speed of your shutter also influence light sensitivity.
High ISO is ideal when you have low light, like a city at night. You can increase your ISO to let your camera detect more light, and therefore to get more lightness in your video.
We suggest you experiment with your ISO and see how it affects the results to gain some experience.
Aperture is just like the iris of your eye. It controls how much the lens will open to let in light to the sensor. In optics, aperture refers to any hole that lets in light. In the case of cameras, a set of blades or diaphragms control the passage of light.
Aperture, along with ISO and shutter speed, determine the brightness of an image. Aperture values are expressed as f-stop values, like f/2.0, f/4.0, or f/5.6. The higher the f-stop value, the smaller is the opening of the aperture.
Along with light, the aperture decides the depth of field of your images or videos. If you use a large aperture, your videos will focus on only a small portion of the frame. It's called depth of field and represents the distance between the closest and farthest objects that your camera can focus sharply on.
What it means is, higher aperture settings (lower f-stop values) provide a shallow depth of field. The background will be gradually blurred when the depth of field goes shallow, achieving a bokeh effect.
The aperture range varies from camera to camera, based on the lens used. Needless to say, shooting different shots will require different aperture settings. You will also need to adjust the ISO and shutter speed if you are using manual settings.
Shutter speed is the time your shutter stays open to take a picture. In film cameras, pressing the shutter button opens the shutters to let in light and imprint the image on the negative. In the case of digital cameras, it represents how long the sensor is exposed to light.
For example, if you shoot at 1/60 shutter speed, it means your sensors open to light for 1/60th of a second.
The longer you keep your shutter open, the more light you will be letting in. So, a slow shutter speed helps you shoot in low-light conditions. On the contrary, shooting with high shutter speed means you have ample light around.
You need to adjust your shutter speed along with your ISO and aperture to get the right settings.
On the other hand, videos like time-lapse of the milky way will need long exposure. The shutter speed will ideally also be in low speeds.
If you are shooting slow-motion, then you need to use high frame rates setting, like 60 fps. For super slow-motion, you can go higher to 120 fps. With that, you need to set your shutter speed at roughly two times of your frame rate.
You can follow a rule of thumb to get your shutter speed right. Try to maintain your shutter speed at around 2-times of your frame rate. With that, set your frame rate and aperture at the right values to create varied effects.
White balance in your camera helps you capture the right color temperature. What is color temperature?
You must have seen how shades of light differ from one another. For example, the hue of sunlight is completely different from an incandescent bulb. That means even white light has a varying shade or hue depending on the light source. Additionally, even different light conditions can change the color temperature of an image.
The same image taken on a sunny morning will look different from the image taken at sunset. So, what's color temperature got to do with white balance?
In simple words, the white balance on your camera ensures you get the right color temperature. If you are shooting under the sun, you can use a proper white balance value to make your video realistic.
Color temperature is expressed in Kelvin, and we have standard ranges for specific lighting conditions and sources (see image above). You just need to choose the right white balance to get the best shot.
Moreover, experimenting with white balance can allow you to make an image appear warm or cold. For example, shooting rice lights at night at 3050K will give you a cold or bluer image. However, using a high white balance like 5550K will make the image look more yellowish or warmer.
Most cameras make your job easy by using light conditions like sunlight, flash, or fluorescent in the menu. You have to select the right condition to get the right white balance. DSLRs also let you choose white balance ranges in Kelvin for finer adjustments.
Else, you can also choose the auto mode in your camera for setting white balance levels. The camera will assess the ambient lighting and select the best white balance level for the best shot.
Frame rate is a significant factor for shooting quality videos. It refers to the number of frames captured by your camera in each second while shooting videos. Different forms of media use different frame rates to achieve different effects.
When it comes to movies, the standard frame rate is 24 FPS or frames per second. In the case of a web series, the applicable frame rate is around 30 FPS. If you are shooting a football match, then you will need to shoot at 60 FPS.
Varying the frame speed creates different effects. Lower frame rates will create the "film" effect with more blurred overtones. Shooting at 30 FPS will bring a "new-age" or "crisp" feel in your footage.
You need to choose the right frame rate for capturing the best footage. Along with that, you may also have to tweak other settings like shutter speed.
Here is a list of frame rates and their probable uses:
- 1 - 15 fps: Ideal for fast-motion shoots and motion blurs
- 24 or 25 fps: Suitable for films with dialogues and landscapes
- 30 fps: Web videos and live streams can use 30 fps
- 48 - 60 fps: Use it to shoot general slow-motion videos
- 90 -120 fps: Great for super slow-mo videos and creating dramatic effects
You can experiment with frame rates to get an idea how the rates affect your images or videos. In fact, you will need to experiment with all the settings to know what works and what doesn't. In the process, you will gain experience and learn to use the right settings to get the results you desire.
The five-camera settings we discussed are enough to get you started. Experiment a lot so that you can become a pro at no time. Do keep in mind that changing one setting will invariably affect the other, and impact your results. Take your time and work to understand these subtle nuances of taking pictures and videos.
You can move on to advanced settings once you have mastered the basic ones. Till then, keep shooting as much as you want! And do check how changing the settings is affecting the results. Don't be discouraged as it takes at least a month or two to master these settings.