Camera Body: Canon T2i

Lens: Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

SD Card: Transcend 16GB, Class 10

Stabilization: Handheld/tripod (maybe)

Question: I'm going on vacation this weekend and would like to shoot a lot of video with my new T2i. I have played with the HD video a bit, but haven't quite figured out the best method to shoot video with regards to camera settings and focusing methods. From various websites and forums, it would seem that the best settings are:

Shutter speed: 1/50
ISO: 200
Frames per Second: 24
Aperture: ???

A lot of what I will be shooting will be on a boat in Key West, so light shouldn't be an issue...plenty of sunlight. I want to have the widest focusing range as I can so that I can film para-sailing, people jet-skiing, etc, but I'd also like to be able to walk around with the camera and have everything be sharp and in focus when I'm closer to my subjects. I know this is a big challenge for DSLRs, so I was wondering if there is a "best method" for focusing. Full-on manual? Auto? Set-it-and-forget-it?

I plan on not using sound from the video in post, so focusing noise will not be an issue. Thank you for any suggestions you can give me! Happy shooting.

~ Jon

  • Personally I just set a tiny aperture, focus to the hiperfocal distance and let the camera struggle with the ISO. Not the best solution, but very useful when you don't have enough manual focusing skills. – Andres Jun 28 '11 at 14:17
  • Good suggestions. My DOF must have been too shallow during my tests. I'll try focusing to a hyperfocal distance. Will I run into problems using my 18-55mm and shooting big landscapes (the ocean, parasailers, people jetskiing, etc.)? – Jon Jun 28 '11 at 14:24
  • Nope, that's the lens I use and it's perfectly fine. – Andres Jun 28 '11 at 15:28

Well, I don't believe the T2i will autofocus while taking video, so manual it is! Obviously you can autofocus before starting the video, but that camera will not continuously auto focus during video.

Other exposure settings like aperture and ISO will be determine by the available light and desired creative effect. Less light at dusk or such may dictate a higher ISO. Subject isolation may dictate a wide open aperture, or you may want everything in focus at a low aperture. Exposure, in general, is talked about at length on the rest of the site, and remains mostly relevant for video discussion. Search the 'exposure' tag.

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  • Thanks for the suggestions. Focus is really my biggest concern, I think. I've experimented a little just walking around with the camera, and it's just tough to hold focus. I've had great success just doing stationary video, so perhaps I should just keep things in one place this weekend. Thoughts? – Jon Jun 28 '11 at 14:18
  • @Jon your question here touches on what focus method to use, so if it must be manual, you may consider asking a separate, more specific question about improving manual focus for DSLR video. – rfusca Jun 28 '11 at 14:24
  • I think the two of you have pointed me in the right direction enough for me to take it from here. Thank you for the help :) – Jon Jun 28 '11 at 14:33

The best focus setting is Manual focus. Luckily, you cannot choose anything else on your camera :)

Yes, you need to practice and get good at it. Professional videos are done with manual focus and there are reasons why. Contrast-detect AF (used by video-capable DSLRs) is particularly bad because it moves the lens back and forth to determine focus (the point at which contrast is highest) this causes a disturbing movement during video. See the first 6 seconds of this video to know what it looks like.

If you go with a smaller aperture, then you do not have to be so precise which will help. The usual advice is use a combination of focus-distance and aperture settings which gives you focus throughout the area where action will take place.

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  • The video url is broken :( – Nacho Jun 28 '11 at 16:12
  • @ign - this is what happens when you lose focus... – ysap Jun 28 '11 at 16:20
  • Lol :) Fixed, sorry. – Itai Jun 28 '11 at 17:04

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