Video Essentials

Learn How to Set Up Your DSLR Camera: Video 101

The following lesson was created by Vimeo for its Vimeo Video School. It’s used here with permission. Look for a new lesson each week.

When you first get your DSLR camera, there are a few settings you can change that will give you a better image.

Some cameras need the video functionality to be enabled. If you have a Canon 5D, you’ll need to set it up to shoot video.

To set up your Canon 5D to shoot video:

  1. Hit the Menu button
  2. Select the Live View/Movie func. set
  3. Select LV func. setting
  4. Choose Stills+movie then Movie display

To get the best image, you’ll need to change a few settings. This isn’t required, but we recommend it. The following instructions are for most Canon DSLR cameras, there are similar settings for other brands as well.

  1. Go into your Menu
  2. Select Picture Style
  3. Select User Def 1
  4. Change your picture style to Neutral
  5. Turn Contrast all the way down
  6. Turn the Saturation down two notches

Knowing how to change your frame rate is important to achieve different looks from your camera.
A frame rate is the frequency at which your camera will capture each frame of footage. Since videos are made up of still images put together, the faster your frame rate, the more images are taken.

The most common frame rates are 24, 25, 30, 50, and 60. Using 24 fps will give you a film look while using 50 or 60 fps will allow you to have great looking slow motion video by slowing it down in post production. For the same look you see on television shows or documentaries, use 25 or 30fps. Like any of your cameras settings, using and changing them is what will give you the best idea of what you like and what works best for you.

To change your frame rate:

  1. Go into your Menu
  2. Select Movie rec. size
  3. Choose from the options

Europe has a different set of frame rates than the United States. If you’re in Europe and other countries, use PAL frame rates. If you’re in the United States and much or North America, you’ll want to use NTSC. The reason for the difference is actually due to the way electricity is transmitted. Check your camera’s manual for specific instructions on switching between NTSC and PAL.

Ready for more? Learn about DSLR lenses or view more lessons at the Vimeo Video School.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. I think the Cinestyle Profile is a very useful addition to the picture profile set up.


    Posted by james - | July 5, 2011, 4:25 pm
  2. Great post. Also wanted to add, Canon DSLRs have a setting called “Highlight Tone Priority which helps you preserve more detail in the highlights. I would recommend to turn that off as if it’s on you won’t be able to select ISO values under 200.

    Posted by Justin | April 1, 2013, 7:37 pm
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