Correct camcorder settings when filming

Discussion in 'Digital Video' started by R.H., Jun 5, 2008.

  1. R.H. macrumors newbie

    May 26, 2008
    Greetings all, just joined up here on the forums, some really great info here. I've been hearing great things about the hv-30 and I'm prob gonna be getting this camera but just before that, could anyone give me some background info on video camcorder settings. I dont know that much about digital video cameras and before i get one I wanna know what the correct settings for a particular shooting situation would be eg, white balance, aperture, exposure when filming in low light, or high light places. Is there are site where i could possibly read up on this kind of thing, guess im asking for a beginners guide to filming with hdv cameras etc, or even the basic theories behind photography perhaps.

  2. P-Worm macrumors 68020


    Jul 16, 2002
    Salt Lake City, UT
    First of all, what are you planning to do with this camera? If you are planning to make short films, I recommend you picking up The DV Rebel's Guide or browsing the Stu Maschwitz blog (do a search for ProLost). If this is just for home movies and stuff, sticking to some of the auto features can produce some nice results with a minimum of fuss.

    White balance - You can bring a white card or piece of paper along with you to do a manual white balance, but I find that auto white balance or the presets usually do a good job. If you are doing something where light sources will change, doing a manual white balance is usually a good idea.

    Aperture - Some key things to remember about aperture is that a low setting will let more light in and give you a more shallow depth of field. I don't know if the HV30 has neutral density filters on it (I doubt it), but usually you want to stop overexposure with neutral density filters and control your depth of field with your aperture.

    Exposure - This isn't something you want to play with too often unless you are going for a specific look. The key with exposure is the motion blur that comes with it. For a standard motion blur look, if you are shooting 24p you will want an exposure of 1/48 or 1/60 for 30p. Sometimes you might want that 'zombie attack' or 'storming the beach on D-Day' look where the film is all jittery. This comes from having a really fast exposure so there is essentially no motion blur.

    Have fun with your camera and learning how it works. Feel free to post additional questions in this thread if you need any help.

  3. JSF macrumors member


    Mar 14, 2008
    Edmond, OK
    If you are getting the hv-30 there is a forum site called You can find all the info for that camcorder on that site.
  4. mithrilfox macrumors regular


    Nov 6, 2007
    I recommend the HV20 instead. It's much cheaper, and has almost all of the features of the HV30 (no 30p).

    Basically, for starters you can white balance your camera using the basic included settings, but it's best to use a piece of white material.

    This is VERY important: LOCK THE EXPOSURE. What that means is, you need to use the joystick to click into the exposure settings, set it at a point where the image looks good, and then click out of that setting... it will be locked at that point. If you don't lock the exposure, every change in lighting will affect the whole picture.

    One time, while trying to shoot a video of my showcasing a camera, I forgot to lock the exposure. Then, in post while editing, I saw that every time I turned the object on it's side, the reflective silver surface created more light, and the camera tried to compensate by lowering the exposure, and so the whole picture would quickly go dark, then change back to light, then go dark again, based on my movement.

    Set the frame rate to standard HDV (60i) unless you have a specific purpose for aiming at 24p (emulating a film look, but you need so much more than just 24p). If you plan to color grade your work, use the neutral or cinema color setting, it's easiest to color correct/grade dull colors rather than artificially enhanced colors.

    Perhaps equally as important as the settings on the camera is having a plan. An amateur points and shoots, a professional plans and shoots. Have a plan, set it up, and get your lighting arranged ahead of time. I know people who spend hundreds of dollars on the camera and mic, and forget to invest in lights. You want to make sure that your video is well light by a single type of light (multiple sources is OK, just don't intermix light types).

    I hope this helps!

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