DSLR HD Videos: Steady Shooting and Superb Sound are Key

When it comes to shooting HD videos with your digital SLR, steady shooting and superb sound quality are super important. Of course, if you want your video to look like Hurt Locker, you can hand-hold your camera as you run down the street at top speed. For steady results, however, you'll need some sort of camera support.

In the above photograph, the videographer is using a shoulder mount (Cavision RS5DM2SET-F Shoulder Mount Package) to steady his camera – actually my Canon 7D :-)

The shoulder mount is very effective and gives you mobility while shooting in the field. However, for super steady shots, you'll want a very sturdy tripod with a video head that is designed specifically for movies, such as the Manfroto 701HDV Pro Fluid Video Mini Head shown below. Ahhhhh, don't ya just love smooth pans and tilts.

When shooting videos, you'll get less camera shake with wide-angles lenses than you will with telephoto lenses – which is also true for still photographs.

Also note that you can reduce some camera shake in Final Cut Pro by using the Smooth Cam feature.

Sound - it's more important than you may think. In fact, great sound can save a poor quality video – but not vice versa.

First off, you want to use an accessory mic, such as the Rode Video shotgun mic – shown in the opening photo with a Pearson Fuzzy Windjammer.

Placing a mic on boom (such as the Rode Mini Boompole) is even an better idea than using an camera-mounted mic – because the mic is closer to the subject.

Another option is to use wireless lapel mics, such as the Sennheiser EW112-0 G3 system. The Sennheiser receivers for a two-mic set up, along with a BeachTek mixer, are shown in the photo below. In that photo, the sound is being recorded directly to the CF card.

Sure, you can record directly to the CF card in the camera. The results are okay. For best results, however, you'll want to use an external recorded, such as the Zoom H4n, which is attached to the rig in the opening photo with several rubber bands. Yes, mounting brackets are available, but hey, if pros can use duck tape, you can use rubber bands.

Note: You still need to record the sound to the CF card, as you'll need that sound track to sync your off-camera mic recording.

One more thought, for now, on sound: You must wear good headphones when shooting. Not only do you want to check the volume and quality of your sound, but you want to VERY carefully listen for background noise and audio "hits." These hits can be caused by everything from fabric rubbing on the mic to an HD signal (depending on which channel you have selected for your mic) to an iPhone.

I have heard these hits/clicks on several recordings. They ranged from being barely noticeable to being so obvious that they ruined the video.

Let me know here if you'd like to see more posts on shooting videos with you digital SLR camera.

If you want to see a cool digital SLR HD video by my friend/co-founder of the Digital Photo Experience, Juan Pons, click here. Now that is steady!

For a list of the DSLR video gear I recommend, click here.

Explore the light,

P.S. As you noticed, the videographer in the opening photo has both eyes open. If you learn how to shoot with both eyes open, you'll have a better chance of keeping an eye (so to speak) on what's happening around the main action in your viewfinder. This technique could save you from tripping while walking and shooting, and could save your shot by letting you know if something or someone is about to enter/ruin the scene.