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Setting up your DSLR

Andrea Allen
December 16, 2010 by Andrea Allen PRO

Step 2: Getting the camera ready to shoot

When you first get your DSLR camera, there are a few settings you can change that will give you a better image.

Some cameras need the video functionality to be enabled. If you have a Canon 5D, you’ll need to set it up to shoot video.

To set up your Canon 5D to shoot video:

  1. Hit the Menu button
  2. Select the Live View/Movie func. set
  3. Select LV func. setting
  4. Choose Stills+movie then Movie displayTo get the best image, you’ll need to change a few settings. This isn’t required, but we recommend it. The following instructions are for most Canon DSLR cameras, there are similar settings for other brands as well. 1. Go into your Menu
  5. Select Picture Style
  6. Select User Def 1
  7. Change your picture style to Neutral
  8. Turn Contrast all the way down
  9. Turn the Saturation down two notchesKnowing how to change your frame rate is important to achieve different looks from your camera.
    A frame rate is the frequency at which your camera will capture each frame of footage. Since videos are made up of still images put together, the faster your frame rate, the more images are taken. The most common frame rates are 24, 25, 30, 50, and 60. Using 24 fps will give you a film look while using 50 or 60 fps will allow you to have great looking slow motion video by slowing it down in post production. For the same look you see on television shows or documentaries, use 25 or 30fps. Like any of your cameras settings, using and changing them is what will give you the best idea of what you like and what works best for you.

To change your frame rate:

  1. Go into your Menu
  2. Select Movie rec. size
  3. Choose from the optionsEurope has a different set of frame rates than the United States. If you’re in Europe and other countries, use PAL frame rates. If you’re in the United States and much or North America, you’ll want to use NTSC. The reason for the difference is actually due to the way electricity is transmitted. Check your camera’s manual for specific instructions on switching between NTSC and PAL.
*E***For extra credit:** Get all the technical details about NTSC and PAL.

Ready for a challenge?

So do you feel confident enough to go out and shoot something? Philip has a great starting challenge for you called “An Object.” Find an object and film it so that it’s interesting! Use all the techniques you learned, keeping in mind your white balance, ISO settings, and frame rate. Keep your video under two minutes and really push your boundaries with framing and DOF. Watch Phil’s example video here.

Accept this challenge
  1. 1.
    Accessories are important as you start shooting. Learn about what you definitely need and things that you'll want for awesome looking videos.
  2. 2.
    If you're new to shooting with a DSLR, here are some things you'll need to know about lenses.
  3. 3.
    New to shooting with a DSLR? Maybe you're thinking about getting one? We'll teach you the differences between DSLR cameras and help you decide which one's best for you!
  4. 4.
    Shooting at night with your DSLR? This lesson will give you the tips for making your low light shots awesome.
  5. 5.
    Recording high quality sound for your DSLR can be tricky business. Here are a few ways to help you record.
  6. This lesson covers a few simple changes you can make to your camera settings in order to get the best looking footage for your DSLR!
  7. 7.
    Keys to understanding your camera settings and how to start shooting great video with your DSLR.
  8. 8.
    Learn how to make a basic timelapse video with your DSLR.


matters Somehow

Hi, is anything matter with Sharpness? how should i turn it down or middle?


Hi Andrea, I just got the 5D Miii and am super excited, but am very "from scratch." Do y'all have this same tutorial for my camera? The controls are a bit different. Thanks!



How do I get my videos to look like this tutorial? There is a certain feel that I cannot figure out how it is done. I'm talking about the actual tutorial video itself. What equipment are you using? What settings? Lenses?


Lots of useful tips here. Interestingly the 5D Mark II is still very popular even 4 years after the post was created.

Spence Miller Media

I have a canon rebel t3i so the there is no manual film shooting mode available. Should I still follow this tutorial in prepping for my shots?


There is a manual setting on the dial. Turn the dial to manual (M) and then you will be able to shoot in manual mode..

Alejandro Reyes

I will be shooting with mark 5d at a studio this week. Since I'll indoors will following these same steps work out for me? I'm dealing with tungsten lights.

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