Camera Basics 101 Header

by | Jul 26, 2019 | How To, Videography

This blog is perfect for you if you’re interested in getting out of your camera’s Auto mode and learning how a camera works. If you’re in the middle of transcoding your latest project and interested in better workflows – see you on the next blog, these camera basics aren’t for you.

Shutter

Shutter is the amount of times the camera shutter is open, in seconds. A poorly-set shutter speed results in the obvious unstablized shot or blurry clip. Shutter speed is a component that quickly requires advanced knowledge; so start your camera on 24fps and a 1/50 shutter. If you’re happy with leaving your shutter knowledge here – skip to the next section. Otherwise, read on and learn more about shutter!

For fast paced content you would want to use a higher shutter speed for a crisp focus. A 1/500 shutter is high, equaling a longer time, requiring more light to enter. You will need to adjust your camera’s ISO – read more on this later. You should also consider the relationship of your shutter speed to your lens. A rule of thumb is, when handheld, your shutter should be equal parts to the focal length (use 1/100 when zoomed at 100mm). This mindset is outdated to some because newer lenses have image stabilization or vibration reduction and technology has provided a few solutions to sharper imagery.

Frames per second

Frames Per Second is dependent on your camera’s capabilities and the overall effect you are aiming for. Commonly used is 23.976 or the standard 24fps, and again this is relevant to playback speed. Incredible slow-mo scenes are shot in 120-300fps.

The ISO setting corresponds to the light sensitivity of the camera. A high ISO is very sensitive and possibly grainy. Typically, in decent conditions, an ideal ISO is around 100. This setting is important to monitor when lighting conditions are constantly changing or out of your control (like an outdoor environment.)

Shutter Speed vs. ISO Sensitivity
Shutter and ISO Settings

Aperture

Aperture, measured in f-stops, is the opening of the lens that allows light in. Working hand in hand with the shutter and ISO, it allows light to pass through to the sensor and capture a scene. However. the higher the aperture the smaller the opening of the lens. Imagine squinting your eyes and opening them up wide again – a large 1.4 aperture setting allows the most light into the camera, creating a beautiful image with shallow depth.

Lens Aperture
Lens Aperture

Overall, these three settings provide your camera’s exposure. A well lit and calculated setting will deliver a properly exposed shot. If you’re still nervous about any setting in particular, test out your camera’s Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, or Auto-ISO settings until you can get a hang of what looks right.

Exposure Triangle
Exposure Triangle

BONUS!

Aspect Ratio

Aspect ratio is one of the first things you should consider, especially if you plan on posting your work online. Below are common aspect ratios. Be aware of what dimensions are common for the platform you’re posting on and keep it in mind while you’re framing your shots.

Fun Fact: An HD television has 2.1 megapixels. 4k has about nine megapixels. The human eye can see over 500 megapixels. My point is – use your best tools and look in front of you without the help of a camera lens. Getting stuck behind a piece of hardware and comparing it to better pieces in the market won’t help the output of your creativity. With an imagination – even your cell phone camera will do!

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