Video Tips for Photographers: Canon T3 Review
I’m doing a video for the UW College of the Environment, and they lent me their Canon T3. As you may know, I use a 5DmkIII, so their camera was just going to be a nice b-roll camera for all the interviews. This post will have helpful video tips, but first I have a bone to pick.
SLR cameras were manual. You put in the film speed you wanted, picked your aperture, and shot. Then things went digital. The camera did the thinking for you. That’s great for anyone wanting to take pictures of their kids (or grandkids), but for people that wanted to put a little more craft into their photos, they always had the manual options to fall back on when the camera didn’t do what they wanted. Video cameras were stupid expensive. Now, video cameras are incredibly affordable, and packed into most DSLRs. Again, auto is great for travel and kids, but we always had manual to fall back on. The Canon T3 is the only DSLR I’ve ever used where it was this nice little camera that I could make amazing pictures with, then it got stupid as soon as I ticked the dial over into video mode. The manual setting completely disappears!! You can’t change anything but white balance. So you’re stuck with what the camera thinks is right.
Why is having manual settings important? Here’s a little example for you. The camera unfortunately thinks you are a moron, and doesn’t believe you can competently focus on your subject. So it automatically decides to shoot at an f-stop with a reasonable depth of field because you (or it) will probably not be able to focus correctly. So what does this mean? If you are like many amateur photographers, you probably have a “nifty fifty” lens. (I own the 1.4, but the 1.8 is an incredible value at just $100.) And once you slap that nice bokeh-licious piece of glass onto a T3, it turns into a junk kit lens.
See how big of a difference that is? If I have to shoot in a cluttered warehouse, I need a shallow depth of field so get rid of the junk in the background. Not only does the footage look visually more pleasing and cleaner, but it just feels more professional and cinematic.
So concludes my T3 review for video. (Don’t do it.) But I wanted to give photographers a bit of a starting point when making the transition to video. And here’s the quick list of things I think are useful to keep in mind:
- You no longer get 3 ways to change your exposure. Set your shutter speed to 1/60 sec, set your aperture to the depth of field you want (shallower the better), then set your ISO to get the exposure right.
- Not only do you have to think about all the rules of composition, but you have to think about audio, movement and timing as well. Fortunately, even in large blockbuster films, not every shot needs to look great on it’s own. They just need to look good together. Good rhythm is key.
- Two things we never think about: Stabilization and sound. As long as you have a tripod/flash/hands of an angel, you can get a sharp photo. In the video world, it’s about getting a smooth clip. You don’t need the expensive dolly and such to get started. Invest maybe $20 in a DIY stabilizer rig, and you’ll thank me later. Also, audio is a pain when you’ve never done it before. I’m still learning, but an audience will watch shaky footage. They won’t, however, listen to junk audio.
- STAY ORGANIZED. I cannot stress this enough. Keep your footage organized. Do it however you want, but keep it easy to find. For this video project, I have about 20 sub-folders. One per camera, another for the clean audio, and another for B-roll, all per interview. It will save you time and a migraine to do it right from the start.
I hope this post had some helpful tips for you, and if you are looking for a camera that can do video, seriously, get anything else but the T3. (It’s not that much cheaper, but a whole lot worse than other options.)