“Film as dream, film as music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls.” - Ingmar Bergman
Taking photos or video with your camera allows you to create a vision of the world. The greatest visionaries have created narratives through film and photography. 2018 saw the highest attendance levels at UK cinemas for almost 50 years with 177,001,481 attendees. With all the other ways to now consume media, people still love the silver screen.
So what about working behind the camera?
You don’t need to be a famous director to start making great videos. With your digital camera, be it a reflex (SLR or digital SLR), hybrid, or compact, you can create videos.
Which Cameras Are the Best?
Choosing a camera that takes good video is becoming an increasingly common decision for everyday people. Far from the old camcorders, you can now get amazing image quality from digital devices.
The reason for this is because so many people saw the utility in combining video and photography into a single device. Digital cameras now allow you to take great photos and videos using just one camera.
The best cameras can easily film in 4k. Generally, the quality will be beyond what most users need as HD quality will be enough.
The advantage of filming with a camera is that you get a lot of power in terms of depth of field. This is when you focus on a certain element leaving the background blurry. This is commonly used in photography but can also be used to great effect in cinema (usually on static shots).
Cameras have become very useful devices and have helped amateur filmmakers create professional-looking footage.
This is especially true with the following devices:
- Fujifilm X-H1
- Sony Alpha 7
- Panasonic Lumix GH5S
- Olympus OM-D E-M1
- Nikon D850
All these devices can film in 4k and will film in 24 or 25 frames per second. Some have stabilisation built-in and also the option to film in slow motion (50 to 60 frames per second). This is quite common with digital hybrid or digital SLR cameras.
That said, they tend to cost quite a bit and you can pay between £1,000 and £2,000 for them.
On the other hand, there are cheaper cameras like the Sony RX100 and Canon G7X.
You can get decent quality footage in a camera that you can take everywhere.
What Type of Camera Should You Use for Filming?
Is a compact better than a reflex for filming? Which are the best types of cameras?
These are the questions you’ll need to ask yourself before getting a camera. Before we move onto the answers, we’ll need to look at the difference between, compact, bridge, hybrid, and reflex cameras.
A lot of amateurs don’t realise what a difference the lenses can make. Reflex and hybrid digital cameras have interchangeable lenses unlike bridge and compact cameras.
But the real difference between these cameras isn’t the fact you can change the lenses but rather what’s going on inside them. The sensor is a bit different depending on the model.
This is the part of the camera that receives the light from the lens. The larger the sensor, the easier it is to take good photos (especially in low-light conditions). Reflex cameras tend to have the largest sensors (full-frame) and even some hybrids also have this. Bridges and compacts tend to have smaller sensors.
A hybrid doesn’t have mirrors in them but a digital SLR camera will. That’s why hybrids tend to be smaller. A mirrorless camera body tends to have a smaller sensor size.
We tend to think that reflexes are the best for videos. However, it depends on how you use them. Reflexes are big and heavy and you need to get good lenses to get decent quality footage. Make sure you consider how much this will all cost before you invest. Of course, this is why reflexes and hybrids are great for professionals.
There’s also a place for compacts, though. Some higher-end models can film in 4k and record at 50 frames per second. These devices are great for filming without having loads of stuff to lug around.
Don’t forget to pay attention to the audio quality, too. An external microphone might be a good idea if the audio from the built-in microphone isn’t very good. After all, Hybrid, compact, and DSLR cameras are all designed with the photography in mind.
10 Tips for Filming with Your Camera
You’ll need to know a thing or two about filming and your equipment before you can start getting good at it. You should do the following before you start filming with the camera:
- Storyboard or plan your scenes
- Think about the lenses needed
- Plan shots
- Learn how to stabilise your camera
- Get the settings right in video mode
- Get the lighting right
- Opt for static shots
- Consider the audio
- Do several takes
- Consider different angles
Creating a story-board isn’t just for making films and it can make everything a lot easier. Knowing what you need to film can make it all much easier when it comes to filming. This will work great for static shots.
It can be really difficult doing travelling or tracking shots. Automatic focus isn’t as good in video mode as in photo mode. To ensure your footage is in focus, you’ll need to focus manually, which can be tricky, especially for beginners.
Try making your static shots dynamics. Don’t always shoot from the same angle as it’ll make everything feel a bit monotonous. You need to move around and try different angles.
Pay attention to the cuts, too. Cameras aren’t designed to shoot for long periods. In addition to battery life, you need to set up the camera for how long you’ll need to shoot.
There are settings such as the framerate and the quality of the recording, especially if you want to film in Full HD or 4K.
Finally, ensure that the lighting is right so you get good shots. Even if your device allows you to alter the ISO settings or has a large image sensor, you can’t underestimate how important lighting is.
Learn more about filming with cameras.
What Accessories Do You Need to Film with Your Camera?
When filming with a hybrid or single-lens reflex (SLR), you’ll need to think carefully about the lenses you’ll use. Sometimes, the lens is more important than the camera itself. You’ll need to consider the focal distance (wide-angle, telephoto, etc.).
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Most cameras don't have great microphones built into them. (Source: Hitcom)When it comes to bridge and compact cameras, you need to think a lot about the lens as you can’t change it.
Similarly, you might need to buy a mic. We recommend that you get a mic if you want to get good audio quality. The built-in mic for most cameras isn’t great. To make sure that you get the most out of your filming, use an external microphone that you can plug into your reflex or hybrid camera or even record the audio separately. Of course, you’ll need to sync up the audio and video during editing.
Additionally, don’t forget batteries! A few extra batteries mean that you can film all day without having to worry about your camera running out of charge. Two or three extra batteries means you won’t have to stop when one runs out.
The same is true of memory cards. Videos take up a lot of memory, especially when filming in 4K.
Finally, I recommend that you invest in a tripod to stabilise your shots. Even if you’ve got a steady hand, there’ll still be some shaking. To get a good static shot, it’s better to use a tripod. There are also camera stabilisers you can get allowing you to move the camera while getting a steady shot.
Don’t hesitate to get a backpack or camera bag for all your gear. Ideally, you’ll want something that will protect all your equipment in any situation.
Find out more about accessories for your camera.
If you'd like to learn more about photography and film, there are plenty of private tutors on Superprof who can help you. There are different types of tutorials for different budgets and learning styles so it's up to you which one you go for.
Face-to-face tutorials are the most costly but are also the most cost-effective. With just you and the tutor, the tutorials can be tailored to you, what you want to learn, and your preferred learning style.
Online tutorials are similar but instead of the tutor being there in the room with you, they'll teach you remotely using video conferencing software. While this is fine for academic and theoretical subjects, it can be trickier for hands-on subjects that benefit from having a tutor there in the room with you.
Finally, there are group tutorials which tend to be the cheapest per student per hour. Since the cost of the tutor is shared amongst all the students in attendance, each student will be paying a smaller amount than they would in face-to-face or online tutorials.
The choice is yours!