Nikon Know-how

This month, Michael Free­man ex­plains how to use your cam­era’s red but­ton with­out (too much) pain…

NPhoto - - Contents -

Your Nikon doesn’t just take photos, it shoots video too. Michael Free­man ex­plores the ba­sics of mak­ing your own movies, from the kit you’ll need (ba­sic and ad­vanced) to the tech­niques you need to master

Video shoot­ing came to be fea­tured in D-SLRs more be­cause tech­nol­ogy meant it could be, rather than be­cause pho­tog­ra­phers had am­bi­tions to be­come

moviemak­ers. A lot of de­vel­op­ment work had to go into mak­ing this pos­si­ble in terms of pro­cess­ing, but the hard­ware, from sen­sor to lenses, was al­ready there.

The dif­fer­ence be­tween press­ing the black but­ton and the red but­ton on a Nikon may be very small in an op­er­a­tional sense, but they un­lock dif­fer­ent worlds. Any of us in­ter­ested in shoot­ing video with our D-SLRs needs to make an im­por­tant de­ci­sion: how se­ri­ously are we go­ing to get in­volved? You can take it very far, of course, to the point of aban­don­ing your still pho­tog­ra­phy and mak­ing videos pro­fes­sion­ally, but the cost of any ex­tra equip­ment can then be sev­eral times the cost of the cam­era. Over the next few pages we’ll as­sume an in­ter­est that stays sec­ondary to stills shoot­ing. Even so, we’ll present two lev­els of kit and in­volve­ment – ba­sic and next-step.

Pre­par­ing your cam­era for shoot­ing video takes a lit­tle longer than for stills, for one im­por­tant rea­son: you do not have the safety net of shoot­ing RAW. While else­where [see is­sues 40 and 44] we’ve stressed the value of RAW, and how easy it is to ad­just set­tings like White Bal­ance long af­ter you’ve taken your shot, in vide­oland what you shoot is largely what you get; there’s no abil­ity to make se­ri­ous changes in post-pro­duc­tion to re­cover blown high­lights, for ex­am­ple. As a re­sult, you have to think as if you were shoot­ing JPEGs that have to be spot-on, with no safety net in the pro­cess­ing. This is also a good rea­son for us­ing the cam­era set­tings to keep con­trast and sat­u­ra­tion low, as it’s eas­ier to in­crease these later in pro­cess­ing than it is to re­duce them.

As stills pho­tog­ra­phers, we all start out with a great ad­van­tage when tack­ling video – we al­ready know how to frame and com­pose, plus we un­der­stand light­ing. But then there is also a new vis­ual lan­guage to learn, one that in­cludes smooth­ness, sta­bil­ity, con­ti­nu­ity, and a par­tic­u­lar kind of va­ri­ety be­tween shots to keep the flow of im­agery in­ter­est­ing. Fi­nally, edit­ing is im­por­tant; so much so that one of the mantras of video pro­duc­tion is ‘shoot for the edit’ (see Shoot for the edit, page 91).

Mak­ing a sim­ple video of a guzheng player in Chongqing, China, with sound: cam­era locked off, fixed fo­cal length lens, mic with wind­shield mounted on cam­era and sound fed to cam­era

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