4) Typical camera settings
Unlike shooting stills with your DSLR you will often not have the ability to shoot RAW with video. Think of video footage as basically being a series of jpeg images stitched together. As a result, it is more challenging to adjust video footage than stills as there is less digital information to work with than you are used to with a RAW file, so you’ll want to give yourself as much leeway with your footage as possible. To accomplish this you’ll want to shoot in Neutral with Sharpening and Contrast turned down the lowest levels, and as you gain some experience you may even want to take the saturation down a tad as well. These settings will give you more latitude to adjust your footage later and the reduced sharpening can help lessen the risk of moiré in your video.
You will also want to shoot your video in Manual mode and avoid the automatic settings on your camera. The biggest risk using the auto settings on your DSLR for video is that the exposure in your scene can change part way through a clip if there is some kind of minor shift in lighting etc. It will be noticeable…and it will look amateurish. Most Nikon DSLRs do not allow you to adjust aperture when you are in LiveView doing video which can be a pain when you’re on site shooting. I love the combination of the D800 and Nikon 1 V2 because both of these cameras allow me to adjust aperture on-the-fly with external controls while in LiveView. When shooting at high ISOs I do not hesitate to turn on the noise reduction in my cameras.
5) Moiré and how to deal with it
Moiré is an unintended pattern that may show up in your photos and videos when you are shooting highly patterned, usually man-made subjects – see this article for a detailed explanation, along with a sample photo. In photos this is usually not a big problem, because your DSLR camera has an optical low-pass filter (OLPF) in it that is designed to help eliminate this issue. Some of the newer, high pixel density Nikon cameras are eliminating the OLPF to achieve higher levels of image sharpness…and even with these cameras moiré is not typically a serious problem when taking still images.
Video is an entirely different story and you will definitely need to watch for moiré patterns in your video footage. Moiré is most likely to happen when you are shooting highly patterned things like brick walls, metal grates, fences, cloth upholstered chairs, patterned clothing, and automobile front grills. It also tends to show up more when shooting these types of subjects with a wide angle lens. I always bring a laptop with me on video shoots so I can check for moiré after filming scenes where it could be a problem.
If you find moiré in your footage you can’t correct it in post-production so the best thing to do is reshoot the scene to try and reduce or eliminate it while you’re still on-site. You can do this by reframing your scene by moving the angle of your camera slightly. Sometimes moving closer or further away from the subject will eliminate moiré. If the moiré is present in something in the background of your scene you can also change your f-stop to achieve shallower depth-of-field thereby putting the moiré-causing subject slightly out of focus. You can also try to purposely cause some diffraction (softening of sharpness) in your footage by shooting at a high f-stop. Sometimes because of the nature of the scene the best you can do is to reduce the amount of moiré. There are plenty of commercials on television right now with clearly visible moiré (if you know where to look for it) so as long as you have proactively tried to eliminate or reduce it…you’ve done your best.
The likelihood of moiré appearing in video footage also varies quite a bit by the camera body used. For example, the Nikon D600 I used to own was very prone to moiré in video, and was very unpredictable in this regard. When shooting in 1080, my D800 is much less prone to moiré and usually doesn’t cause me any significant issues, but moiré is much more prevalent when shooting at 720 with that camera. Some models like the D5200 are surprisingly free of moiré. Unless you test a specific body with a wide angle lens in a typical ‘high moiré-risk’ scene you can’t really predict in advance how a camera is likely to perform. If you are unable to do a test before buying a new camera body, searching for test footage on the internet can be helpful.
If you shoot with a D800 you can buy a special filter from Mosaic Engineering that is designed to significantly reduce the moiré effect. I don’t own one of these filters so I can’t comment on its effectiveness, but some of the review videos I have seen are quite impressive. It is a bit cumbersome to use however, since the filter needs to be removed from inside your camera body every time you switch from shooting video to stills, and back. Since I regularly switch from stills to video during a shoot, using this filter just doesn’t make sense for me.
6) Rolling shutter and the “Jello Effect”
Sensors can come with either a global shutter (e.g. professional video cameras) or a rolling shutter (at this point all Nikon DSLRs) depending on the camera. A global shutter exposes the entire scene at the same time, while a rolling shutter exposes the scene at slightly different points in time. This very slight time lag with a rolling shutter can cause subjects to appear to wobble in video footage if pans are made too quickly and sometimes a vertical object can look like it is leaning. To counter the “jello effect” when shooting with a DSLR you need to slow down the speed of your pans. If this isn’t possible, you may be able to correct your footage during post-production depending on the software you own. Since I try to keep post production as tight as possible I keep pans well controlled so that the “jello effect” is a non-issue.
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