If you have to move, keep it smooth
You need to avoid jerkiness at all costs, either with a perfectly still camera, or with super-smooth movement
When it comes to video, the key is: no jerky movements. Jerky videos are extremely irritating to watch. Keeping everything still is a safe solution, meaning the camera motionless on a tripod and no lens movements (so no zooming or out). It runs some risk of being boring, but it is also a recognised style of filming that can have the virtue of being calming and decisive. At the start, you could do worse than use this as the default set-up – a perfectly still camera always looks professional.
However, video also benefits from the dynamism of a moving camera, which in the professional world means a fluid head for the tripod; slider, jib and dolly shots; and handheld shots with a stabiliser, even if it’s only a gimbal head. The emphasis is on smoothness, which usually means some damping at the beginning and end so that a movement gently accelerates at the start, and finishes with deceleration.
A fluid tripod head produces exactly this damping effect, making it one of the first investments to make if you intend to move beyond basic video. A slider also offers good value for money, as a tracking shot looks professional and can make almost any static shot look good, but again, it has to be smooth.
If you’re still at a basic level and don’t want to buy lots of equipment, one simple and generally acceptable method for moving the camera is to use your own body movement; with the camera strap fairly short and around your neck, push the camera forward at eye level and use the tension on the strap to hold it firm. Twist your torso or lean forward or backward for smooth movement. Use a wide-angle lens to minimise the appearance of unsteadiness.
One exception to this is what’s called ‘subjective camera’. In this style of shooting, you hold your camera at eye level and present your own view to the audience. This works particularly well for walk-throughs, such as moving along a corridor. Viewers will accept some jerkiness if they feel that they are doing the walking. This is one occasion when, if the light levels vary significantly (as they’re likely to between rooms, or if entering a house), it makes sense to leave the exposure setting on Auto rather then the usually recommended Manual.
Finally, never use zoom. It will irritate the audience, not least because turning the zoom ring smoothly is difficult, and the start and finish are likely to be jerky. If you do need to ‘zoom’ in or out, move smoothly with the camera, or shoot a sequence of two or more video clips using different focal lengths or having moved the camera in or out.
Tips for steadying the camera include using a wide-angle lens (here a 14mm is being used with the 30p crop setting for maximum quality), a lightweight shoulder rig, and pushing the camera forward against the strap for extra steadying tension. Then simply walk quite quickly, and as smoothly as possible to track the subject
Lightweight shoulder rigs are fairly inexpensive. Look for a shoulder rig with a rail mount if you can afford one, as this will allow you to attach other kit later on if you get really into shooting video. Useful add-ons include a lens support, a monitor and a follow focus (for smooth focus-pulling while shooting)