Jan 022012

So here’s the final chapter in the series. For a recap, part 1 covered the issues you’re likely to see, part 2 covered the configurations you should set up before you even start shooting.

Here’s a sample video I quickly whipped up to illustrate what you can get with this technique. (Ignore the editing and lack of completeness, it was a quick edit just for illustrative purposes)

Now it’s time to cover the settings for when you’re about to shoot your video and then start shooting! (okay, first finish reading this article, then use the tips to start shooting).

1. Set Focus

First you want to focus on your chosen subject. This will help in evaluating your aperture and exposure choices.  If you’re set up to use AF-S, get the red or green box on the screen surrounding your subject and half-press the shutter release button so the camera can use the auto-focus. If you’re using manual focus, you can zoom in on the LCD screen to adjust your focus but it will pop back to full screen when you start recording and lock out the LCD zooming while recording.

You can always refocus later, but you want to start in the right range first. If you use a ring-focus AF lens, you can manually tweak your focus later without recourse or follow focus as you need. If you plan on using the AF to refocus, stop recording first or plan on cutting the refocus out later when editing.

2. Set Aperture

After your subject is in focus, you should set the aperture. This is the first point on the exposure triangle you should establish and although it’s the one that gives you the most interpretation of your video look, it has to be done before you go into LiveView mode. When you enter into LiveView on the D5100 or D7000, the aperture is locked until you either take a picture or exit LiveView. What compounds this problem is you can still adjust your aperture, but the change is not reflected on the screen, only in the aperture number on the bottom of the screen.

To set the aperture, switch into Aperture Priority mode (the A on your mode dial) and then you can use the thumbwheel (back of the camera, top right side) to adjust to your desired aperture. DO NOT USE MANUAL MODE. Sure you can set your shutter speed and aperture, but once you start recording video, the camera will automatically adjust to a better exposure value, most likely kicking your ISO or shutter speed off of the pre-set values unless your exposure meter is metering at zero. It’s easier to fix it with aperture priority mode.

Your choice of aperture should be dictated by the amount of light in your shot, how much movement you’re going to track and how shallow you want your depth of field, in that order. So if you have low light, open up that aperture. If you have a lot of movement, you should raise your f-stop to a higher value to increase your depth of field and thereby allowing more lenient focusing choices. Lastly, if the other aspects are accommodated for, choose a lower f-stop to get that intimate shallow depth of field (ideally, as low as f3.5 or lower if your lens supports it) or higher (f16 or higher) to get everything into focus. Just keep in mind the range of ISO choices and whether the noise is going to be reasonable enough for your task at hand.

The reason you should consider your aperture in that order is the quality of your light is the first and foremost element limiting your choices.  If you want a deep depth of field, you have to make sure the light is accommodating for it.  Unlike still photography, you can’t just drop your shutter speed and lock the camera onto a tripod to get the shot.

REMEMBER: If you find you need to adjust your aperture more, you will have to make the adjustment, exit LiveView and enter back in to actually set it for video recording. And when you do that, you should unlock and then re-lock your exposure to ensure you’re shooting the values you’re using as the exposure levels will have to change again.

3. Check and Set White Balance

Setting your white balance is critical, unless you want to turn your auntie into a member of the blue man group or prefer to see the red devil bursting out of that obnoxious kid down the street. White balance helps the camera to understand what you believe white to be under the current lighting conditions.

When you are preparing to shoot, check your lighting situation. Is your subject in the shade? Or bright daylight? Or an office setting? Enter into your shot settings by pressing that I button next to the viewfinder and set your white balance to match. Once you’ve picked your white balance, take a picture and preview it. Is it reading too warm or cold? Adjust white balance and try again.

If you have the time, manually set your white balance though the menu settings. It’s unfortunate that you can only adjust or set the preset white balance through the menu, but the lower sticker cost on the D5100 means more work to get to those advanced features. Most of my shooting uses the standard WB choices in the shooting settings and I haven’t had a lot of issues with it hitting a horrible choice yet.

You can use your white balance to give a warmer or cooler cast if that’s the look you want to go for by choosing a warmer white balance to get a cooler (more blue) picture or vice versa to go the other way but it’s usually easier to color correct in post than to shoot the right color cast in-camera.

If you really don’t have the time, set white balance to Auto with the knowledge you’ll be color correcting in post or accepting the less-than-optimal color balance the D5100 picks for you. It’s also a bit challenging to match shots as they’ll most likely be in different white balance settings between shots.

Why do you even need it in the first place? I could write another whole article on color theory and white balance, but wikipedia does a great job and even has the math behind it if you want to go that far.

4. Choose Picture Profile

While in the shot settings screen, choose your custom picture profile you saved in the last article. It will give the video more dynamic range and look a bit more professional. You can choose to use the other picture settings if you want, but as I’ve mentioned before, if you’re going to be editing the video on your computer, you’ll be able to color correct and you’ll wish you used the minimal processing profile.

Try it, just once, and compare the differences. I expect you’ll see the video shot with this profile appears more professional and it’s easier to adjust the color of the footage later in post.

Just do it, you won’t regret it.

5. Adjust ISO and Exposure

Now remember how I asked you to set your ISO adjustment to the Fn button? Now you can push the Fn button and use the thumbwheel to adjust the ISO up and down to get a shutter speed as close as you can to the ideal rate of 1/50 (for 24 fps) or 1/60 (for 30 fps).

If the light is too low or high, you won’t be able to get to the ideal shutter speed. If the lighting is too low, you’ll have to either accept more grain or find some lights to brighten up your scene. If it’s too bright, you can use an ND filter to reduce the brightness.

Another option is to reconsider your aperture choice if there’s adjustment still available. Open it up or close it down to find that ideal balance.

You can also “fix” the balance with exposure compensation so you can hit the target shutter speed. If you do so, you cannot adjust it after locking the exposure as it will alter the shutter speed or ISO for video to get its required shutter speed.

6. Enter LiveView Mode

Now you’re ready to enter into LiveView mode. Flip that lever and see what you’re getting for your shutter speed, f-stop and ISO. This should be giving you a good preview of what your video will look like when recorded.

LiveView is kind of a bridge point when shooting with the Nikon DSLRs. Specifically, aperture does not actually change until the shutter release is fully pressed (i.e.: you take a picture) or you exit and re-enter LiveView. Also the AE Lock values you locked in will probably be different without any indication of the difference without turning LiveView off and on again.

You should try to find the ideal exposure levels through the viewfinder to ensure your exposure is where you want it before entering into LiveView. Take a few pictures, make sure they’re registering how you want. It also helps with tracking what settings you’re using as the shot settings will be in the last picture before your video.

Don’t bother with ending your video with a picture as you’ll have about two seconds of the camera refocusing (if you’re in AF mode) and the exposure blown out or toned down. Just don’t do it.

While in LiveView, you can adjust your ISO and exposure compensation without any real recourse. Just be sure your shutter speed stays faster than your frame rate.

7. Lock Exposure

Now you have your shutter speed at your target rate, your aperture in the right range and ISO at an acceptable noise level, press the AE/AF Lock to lock your exposure down. Double check your ISO and shutter speed to ensure it did indeed lock at your target shutter speed.

Since we set the AE/AF Lock button to AE Lock (Hold), we don’t have to worry about the exposure sliding around on you and consequently either bumping the ISO too high or flipping around the shutter speed. This is the final, crucial element in fixing our video quality to a consistent, detailed level.

Start Shooting!

You’re all set! Start recording your vid. Give yourself at least two seconds lead-in and the same after all the action has finished so you have blend time for your transitions between shots.

So that covers the gist of improving the quality of the video you can capture on the Nikon D5100. A little bit of an obstacle course, but once you go through it a few times, it becomes second nature. Give yourself the time to do it and enjoy it.

One things to keep in mind: you can muck around with the order of these as you see fit, but remember you must exit and re-enter LiveView when you alter the aperture and have to unlock your exposure before playing with exposure compensation.

Now get out there and show people what this camera can do!

  54 Responses to “Shooting Better Quality Video on the Nikon D5100 Part 3”

  1. Thank you for the great article, you really helped me a lot, fixing the brightness problem, and having the 3 factors (iso, aperture and shutter speed) together under control.My videos look much better now!Once again -- BIG THANKS!!

    • Always glad to help! Any links to videos you can share? Love to see videos done with the D5100.

  2. Will this work for time lapse photography too? Thanks.

    • Time lapse has some different needs, and usually you're trying to get a really slow shutter speed so the final video doesn't appear so staccato. Using ND filters to get your shutter speed to half your interval length is ideal, but not always practical.

      Typically, you lock your exposure using manual mode and then setup your interval and then let the camera do the work from there. You just won't be able to get it out of the camera as a complete video unless you film with the tilt-shift effects mode.

      I could write up an article on how I handle time lapse, but there are some other fantastic resources out there that will apply just fine to the D5100. Just remember that the D5100 has an intervalometer built in and doesn't need a remote to handle the majority of cases.

  3. Thanks for this, It's a really nice explanation.

    One thing I have been shooting a lot of recently are performances on stage with bright stage lighting. I find that the camera tends to over expose. The subjects are bright and washed out a little too much. I set the camera to A mode and then adjust the EV comp down 1-2 stops. Since the lighting is relatively constant I don't see alot of brightening up and down. So I don't bother locking the exposure. I have got some good results this way but with bright lenses set wide open. I have had to train myself to trust that the -2 ev compensation will work. It can look a little dark on the viewfinder but on the TV in HD it's fine.

    In any case thanks for this post. The best part of your post is the procedure of jogging the ISO until you get 1/60 for 30FPS and then locking. exposure. The only thing I would beware of is the fact that the camera does tend to over expose in the situation I mentioned above. Perhaps I would need to set EV compensation to -2 before doing this procedure. Could you maybe think about that or try it out ? For me outdoor video shots are pretty easy to get even even with everything in auto. It's indoor lower light shots that look good and consistent that are harder to get.

    Thanks again


    • Thanks for the info Don.

      I've recently had an interesting issue as well taking a picture with the D5100 exposure dropped to -2 EV for some comparison shots between a film camera I recently inherited and the D5100. The entire shot was dim overall, like someone dropped the contrast by 50% in photoshop. It's baffling that such an occurrence could happen, and I'll have to double-check to see if I can reproduce it again and find a way around it.

      As for overall exposure, you will find the exposure with the minimal setup will come in with a bit less contrast and a bit brighter, but it shouldn't meter over.

      I would suspect that stopping your lens to a higher aperture would certainly help with your focusing at very least, but if you're going for the intimate shot of the actors performing, it's the only way to go.

      If you want, we could correspond via email and I can see if I can reproduce and help you with your problem.

  4. Thank you Kelly !! for such a nicely explained post on d5100 video shooting. It is very useful.
    I still doubt that if ISO and shutter speed can be controlled manually in d5100 video shooting.. Am I getting it correct? IS this possible to use AE lock button to fix the value of ISO and shutter speed while recording? What about when paning ?
    Thank you very much !! 🙂

    • Yes, absolutely it does lock the iso/shutter speed when AE Lock/Hold is used. I've verified it and was planning on performing a proper framerate/shutterspeed comparison test (testing motion blur distance between frames) when I got pulled into heavy O/T at work.

      The easiest way to see that this is the case is to lock your exposure with a set ISO and shutter speed in a bright area and then pan into a dark area. Record this and then when you're in the dark area for a few seconds, release your AE lock. You'll see the shutter speed bounce down and then the ISO bounce up until it's exposed correctly. Note that the camera will first adjust shutter speed to the lowest value of 1/30 of a second and then to maintain that shutter speed (necessary for the framerate) will start adjusting the ISO. Nikon did that part right (you DON'T want to adjust ISO first, especially if you're already into the noisy border of 1600).

      • Thank you for the reply. I've also tried it and it worked just as you explained. But, when I shoot two different videos of a water fountain or running tap water in two different shutter speeds ( like f 1/30th and 1/250 th ), the result is not so impressive. I find no difference in smoothness of video. I should had been smoother for 1/30th shutter speed and choppier for 1/250 th one. But both video looked the same, no effects of slow shutter speed here. Did I miss anything in setting? I followed all the steps above in setting. I hope I'll get it resolved in d5100.

        • Hey San,

          Sorry for the late reply. I've tried the techniques several ways and as long as its run in aperture priority mode, I've been able to swap aperture and shutter speed to maintain exposure and have a change in shutter speed reflected in panning. The one thing I've never been able to validate is that 1/30 or 1/25 of a sec is actually used over 1/60 or 1/50 (depending on your framerate). It's entirely feasible that it won't handle a shutter speed slower than double the framerate.

          I can't illustrate the importance of making sure you don't change aperture once you enter into LiveView mode though, and don't try changing aperture if you've locked your exposure with AE Lock (hold). Unlock your exposure, adjust your aperture to get the desired depth of field, leave and re-enter Live View mode to USE the updated aperture, then pan around and lock your exposure. Following that technique, I've created several smoother framerate vids and even the sharp, staccato effect of a high shutter speed.

          I'm going to compose a method to verify and validate the shutter speed vs framerate to resolve it once and for all, after the crazy workload at work and vacationing is done.

          If I can find another camera, I'd like to create a step-by-step video illustrating the technique as well since video demonstrates it a lot easier than a three part article.

          • Thank you very much for the reply. But, I'm not being able to get the result that you have got with a desired slow shutter speed video. I would like to see step by step video tutorial . I hope it will be available soon. I can't wait to use this cam to function as I want.

  5. Hi , thank you very much for a wonderful reply.
    I'm still trying to shoot video with AE locked into different shutter speeds. But I don't see any differences in the videos, why so? For eg. I once locked in 1/30 th sec shutter speed and another video for 1/300th sec. .. but i don''t see the blur effect in slow shutter of flowing water or fountain. Can you please help me in this? is there any good video to show these.. may be I'm mistaken somewhere
    Thank you

  6. this is great help man, last weekend i almost went crazy with my 5100 when i wanted to adjust exposure in live view, i was shooting a commercial (first time doing pro work) and live view screwed my whole exposure, i wanted to sell it but now you give me some hope. i ll try this at home! thank you!

  7. Good info here, thanks. Do you have any tips for shooting sports where you basically want the whole scene in focus? I plan on using this to shoot my son's flag football games which are all outdoors and will generally have good lighting.

    • Hey Javier,

      I'd suggest using the smallest aperture you can (highest f-number you can use) for getting your 1/30 sec shutter speed. Being a sporting event, you might want to get a faster frame-rate though, and that would require a larger aperture (smaller f-number).

      I'd suggest you look up "hyper-focal distance" in google as it will help you in understanding in how you can get the most in focus that you can. Basically, instead of focusing at the furthest, you focus on a point about 2/3rds from it and lock it there. The acceptable depth of field will keep it in focus from the furthest point to the nearest. It's tricky, and if you're using a lens in the telephoto range (85mm or higher), it won't be as easy as the longer focal range will reduce that depth of field.

      You'll have to play around a bit but with a small enough aperture, you should be able to keep up.

      • Thanks for the reply! I don't really need zoom for what I'm doing so I think I will use my 35mm 1.8 prime lens and see how high I can get the f-stop while maintaining 1/30 (per your suggestion). I'll have plenty of light so it should be a small aperture.

        Thanks again!

  8. Men, you save me! I'm from Brazil, and searched a lot in the internet but i can't find something so good like this. Thanks a lot for this tutorial.

  9. Hello kelly.. could you please give us a similar atrticle for timelapse with D5100.. i liked your article but don't see at which step we have to change into Manual mode from Aperature mode.

    • You can't generate timelapse with the D5100 directly out of the camera. You can take some moderately sped up video using the fakey tilt-shift effect (which shoots at about 4 fps I believe).

      Otherwise, you have to use the intervalometer (there's one built in on the D5100) to capture a sequence of images and then stitch them together into a video on a computer using Adobe AfterFX, Premiere, Final Cut, iMovie or Quicktime (there are others for sure). I did a few a while back and the results can be fantastic if you lock the camera down and dial down the exposure to match one half of your shot rate (e.g.: 1 shot a minute, use a 30 sec shutter speed) that can make it really surreal.

      At some point I will get a tutorial on how to do it up for you with the specifics, but for right now I'm stuck in trying to get another video camera so I can record video of how to perform these tricks as opposed to just what you can produce.

      • Thanks for reply Kelly. Is there any difference if we make a time lapse by compressing a normal video or if we combine the series of images to get a (timelapse) movie?

        • Well, aside from having a much higher resolution and better quality frames to source your video from, you are limited with the D5100 to only record about 20-30 minutes of video. A decent timelapse overnight would require (at minimum) about 4-6 hours of video to get the sunset to sunrise (for example) and you would be using about a frame a minute, you would end up with about 12 seconds of final video at 30 fps.

          The size of the source video would be massive and difficult to manage. Also, you lose control of your relative exposure to your final framerate (remember you ideally want to have your shutter speed at half your shot spacing, so on second you want 1/2 a sec shutter speed, one minute 30 sec shutter speed, etc. this gives you the smooth blur between frames that makes it extra surreal.

          You can go faster shutter speeds, but end up with the staccato video look (sports mode on a camcorder). You can do it, but you lose the benefits of using the D5100 where it really excels: taking fantastic pictures.

          • Yes kelly, I am facing this staccato video (even in real time video) as final when see in the laptop. I shoot 30fps video with 1/60 shutter speed (with or w/o AE-lock) as you suggested in your tut, still the output is a staccato video. could you please help me in this regard. I have read and seen many suggestions videos etc but no use. I see that you yourself understand D5100 functions quite well than others and your tips seems helping too, but i think i am doing wrong somewhere.
            I dont get exactly in which step i need to turn the mode to manual from Aperture ? What i get from your article is that.. set the aperture in "A" mode to set aperture,exposure, then lock the AE, then turn to "M" mode, and finally Live view mode to start shooting. I always keep the ISO 100. Though i see iso 100 during shooting, the video comes noisy and staccato. What should i do now?

          • I've sent you a personal email to see if we can sort out your issue if you like. We can post results after we sort out the problem for others here later.

  10. Hi Kelly. Thanks for this wonderful tutorial. A question, if I may?
    I'm trying to film some clips of me practicing hovering my RC helicopter. The resultant videos are bright and sharp, but the helicopter blades take on the appearance of a twitchy, and jittery mess. I presume the jittery effect is due to the camera bouncing the shutter speed up and down to get a decent exposure.
    They dont have that cool, smooth disc effect like what we see with our naked eye. What kind of shutter speed should I be aiming to get to, to capture this you think? I'm really new to DSLRs, only got my D5100 a couple of days ago.

    • If you can shoot at 24 fps and get 1/30th sec shutter speed, that would be the best you will get. I'm still not 100% sure you'll be able to get the 1/30th working, it might go to 1/50th. If you can get your aperture small enough (f/16 or higher in daylight) and get an ND filter in there to help dropping the shutter speed, it should give more blur to the helicopter rotor blades.

      Unfortunately, you won't be able to reach the ideal of just a blur with a CMOS-based sensor camera, There will always be a bit of a "darker" area in the blades and it will have a harsh curve based off of it's direction of travel in respect to your camera. This bending is called "rolling shutter" and can't easily be worked around. It's the price we pay using a CMOS sensor for video and is primarily the reason that professional cameras still use three CCDs for shooting.

      • Thanks for that great reply!
        I actually tried an experiment last night. I just filmed around my living room in very low light, seeing if I could force a slow shutter speed even in low light. Like in your tutorial I started OUT of live view in aperture priority mode. This was using the 35mm 1.8G prime lens.
        But I also set ISO sensitivity to auto. I basically panned the camera around, all the time the ISO bouncing up and down, and the camera complaining it was too dark. I waited until the shutter speed showed 1/30th and locked the exposure. Then I flicked into live view and started filming. Obviously the ISO was bouncing all over the place as the camera picked up light/dark areas.
        However I can't be certain that the shutter reading of 1/30th was correct, or constant. I got a nice blurry effect of the strobe marks on my turntable though!
        As an aside, Im SURE there's a video on youtube showing how to pan the camera around till you find an ideal ISO level (in low light), and then lock it.

        • It sounds like your exposure is not locked if your ISO is bouncing all over the place. Ensure your LiveView screen has the AE Lock indicator turned on in the bottom left corner, otherwise, it will continue to bounce. If it's locked, your ISO would not be moving around, even in LiveView. AE locks all three primary exposure levels, otherwise it's not doing its job.

          Out of curiosity, did you read the second article explaining how to set up your AE Lock button to be AE Lock (Hold), amongst other settings?

  11. Hi Kelly. Thank you for posting this. I can't wait to try this out. I have one question. How do I choose my custom picture profile. I set it up as you instructed and even named it Pedro 🙂 It's the C-1 but I can't find anyplace to actually choose it. I'm sure I am over thinking this, but I am at a loss. This was a great tutorial. I really like this camera but was about to go crazy because of the constant exposure adjustments.

    • Hey Pedro,

      When editing your shot info, just keep on pressing down until your selection moves left… That\’s the picture profile settings. Second last icon on the bottom right.

      So press \”info\”, press about five times and then press \”ok\” to pick a picture profile.

  12. Hi Kelly. First of all I want to thank you for a very helpful article. But I still have a question about the video posted above, I suppose you used your D5100 camera for that; what lens and settings did you use and did you use any noise reduction software on it? I have a Nikon D5100 and a nikon 35mm 1.8 lens, I did some test shots indoor in the same light situation as your video above, but it doesn’t matter what settings I use, the video is still so grainy it looks like it where shot in a snowstorm.

    I hope you have any suggestions that could help me out.


    • Hey Magnus,

      The video might seem a bit deceptive, I shot it with the 35mm 1.8 as well, ISO 1600, f/1.8, 1/30 shutter speed. It really helped that the under-cabinet light was bright enough and the entire room was well lit. It also helps that there was very little dark areas for noise to show up in.

      It really boils down to locking the exposure at the right moment and keeping it lit properly.

      Believe it or not, I’m still trying to build a video demonstrating the technique, but I’m not any good in front of the camera (the reason I’m behind it)

      • Hi. Thanks for your answer. I guess I’ll just keep trying and have your settings in mind.

        But what really bums me out is that the test shot I did was indoor, in daylight and about 4′ from the window and I still got a lot of grain everywhere I had shadows and darker areas. I had the 35mm 1.8 lens, ISO 100, f/1.8, 1/50 shutter speed. It’s very annoying. Especially when I see videos people have filmed at night (with the same camera and lens, at least they say so) with only some street lights close by, and they have less grain than my video.

        I am about to shoot some documentaries and will not have access to any photo or video lights, only natural daylight, indoor lights and street lights.


        • Is there any place you can put the video so I can see what’s happening? If the shot says ISO 100 and there’s a lot of noise, I guarantee you it isn’t at 100. Maybe auto-ISO is turned on? Adjusting aperture in LiveView?

          It’s critical to ensure you don’t adjust aperture settings in LiveView as it will start lying to you about ALL your settings after that.

          One way to diagnose the problem is to start shooting your vid then take a picture… If the picture doesn’t match your video exposure, the values aren’t locked and they’re just taking up pixels on the display.

          • Ok, I’ll guess that’s what I do wrong, I’ve always adjusted the aperture in LiveView just so I can see what it looks like. So what I really should do is to adjust it out of LV, then turn LV on. Maybe I just misinterpret some parts of your article 🙂

            What if I think it looks too dark or too bright, should I turn LV off again, adjust the aperture and then turn it on again?

            I posted a short version of the test I did on my website server, here’s the link:


          • That would certainly be the problem, Magnus. The issue with the D5100 and D7000 cameras is the inability to reflect aperture settings in LiveView. You can play with it to your heart’s content and it won’t reflect the real aperture until you fully press the shutter release (take a picture).

            That’s the reason I list the steps in the order they are. The order is important, primarily for the aperture settings and exposure lock. Also ensure you’re in Aperture Priority and not Manual shooting mode as once you’re in Manual, the camera effectively internally registers it as Program mode for video and ignores what you set.

            As for the sample video footage, it does seem a bit noisy for the amount of light, but it’s bright enough that you should be able to set your ISO to about 800. ISO 100 would be far too fast for the light situation you’re showing. Indoors is typically 400-1600, outdoors on bright sunny day in direct sunlight is 100.

            Give it a shot, follow the steps in order for this article and let’s see what you get!

          • Ok, thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.


          • Feel free to try it out me get back to me with the results. If it doesn’t fix your problem, I’d love to hunt down what else is going on.

          • Hi. Yeah, I am trying and trying and trying, but I just can’t get it to work. Outdoors in daylight it works pretty good, but if I do have an dark spot like a little shade or someone wearing dark colored clothes, I just get a lot of grain in those spots.

            To me it just seems impossible to get grain free video, unless I shoot something that’s totally white with no shades or contrast at all. I’m not sure how to resolve this problem, if it could be something wrong with the camera, or maybe I should just stop shooting video.

          • Hey Magnus,

            I sent you an email so we can try to resolve this a bit faster and then post the results here (good or bad)

          • So discussed with Magnus about the issue and he’s going to try to film without AutoISO on. Hopefully it helps a bit. One thing that I have discovered is that sometimes the film noise is being mistaken for sensor noise.

            In all the film that I’ve worked with, from actual film through to modern DSLRs, there is a presence of some noise in the video picture. It may appear more pronounced, particularly when using the color profile I suggest for filming. It’s a different noise from low light sensor noise in that it’s very particulate and tends to be monochromatic.

            This noise will tend to be tuned out after color correction and recompression of video, and doesn’t reflect well when viewed on video sites (like Vimeo).

            I’ll have to look more into what’s causing that noise, but I’ve accepted that you can’t get away from that noise from source material and very often is not prevalent in your final work. Try it out and if anyone has any input on it, I’d love to hear about it!

          • I hope Magnus doesn’t mind me posting this here, but here’s a test video he did with the D5100:

            Check it out!

          • I don’t mind, the video is there to be seen 🙂

  13. Hi everybody:

    I think it is a great explanation, especially when it details how to get a better and limited processing profile, but I think there is a mistake, at least with my experience in my own D5100 and firmware (the last official one until today):
    AE-L button must be pressed BEFORE enter Live View mode, this is the only way to hold all the parameters (ISO, shutter speed, and f: number). This means that the only control while filming is to use manual iris lenses or, otherwise, an ND fader filter. When I go out from Live View mode to change parameters sometimes I find that nothing changes when I go again to Live View mode and start filming, this is because AE is still locked when I press it and what I do is unlock AE, so I noticed that sometimes it is necessary to press AE-L button twice before going into Live View mode.

    Please correct me if I am wrong.

    • Hey Quico,

      I will re-test this, but I found it didn’t work as expected. The exposure of course has to be unlocked if you want to adjust anything and you have to be out of LiveView for aperture adjustments to be taken (either by taking a picture or leaving and re-entering LiveView).

      However, locking your exposure before entering LiveView and then entering LiveView, the camera will make adjustments before entering LiveView.

      Simple test:

      -- adjust your exposure pointed directly at a bright light and lock your exposure.
      -- point the camera to a dark area (exposure values should not have changed)
      -- enter LiveView.

      At this point, you will see the display will have made the scene more viewable, either by bumping up the ISO or slowing down your shutter speed, but it hasn’t changed the values on the display. This is the lie the camera tells you. If you take a picture in LiveView, it will be under exposed (to your locked exposure settings), but if you film video, it will be exposed differently. I tried this when writing the articles as it would have been the ideal situation: set the exposure through the lens, lock the exposure and then enter LiveView. But the camera was giving me different results if the lighting situation changed between the lock and entering LiveView.

  14. Thanks for these three articles. Right now, I’m on the road shooting images for my stock photos in Yellowstone, Glacier, Custer State Park, the Bad Lands, and so on. I’ve taken the D5100 with me as my “hiking” camera, but it’s also my primary video camera since I’m shooting videos for the very first time.

    The video I’ll be shooting this trip will probably be just a learning experience, but I’ll be using the procedures you’ve written about here as my starting point. It all makes good sense, and the tutorials have really helped me understand what the camera is doing.

  15. Tried all the tricks, but it appears that ISO sensivity was always automatic in my case. Simple test: taking the stills, then video of the moon and clouds coming through it at the night. Taking stills with 18-105 at 1/400 s., ISO 100, F5,6 revealed some very nice shape details of the moon, the clouds of course were too dark at these settings to be visible (except those going directly through moon). No matter what settings I used to obtain such picture on my video, the moon was always far too bright, and all the clouds on the sky were visible and grainy. So ISO probably was bumped to 1600 or even more. Am i doing something wrong?

    • Hey Adam,

      It’s hard to tell where the problem came up with your filming. That has always been the greatest issue with trying to lock down exposure working with video on the D5100. Having to be in aperture priority mode and only adjusting f-stop outside of live view mode, turning off Automatic ISO, trying to look around with the camera to lock your exposure, trying to use exposure compensation… There are a lot of potential “gotchas” in trying to make it work and even the order of some steps can easily cause problems or invalidate your exposure readings on the LCD screen.

      Generally, what you see on the screen is what you will end up recording. So if you have your auto-focus set to adjust with a half-press of the shutter release, it will (for that moment) readjust your shutter speed and exposure to adjust focus. When it finishes, it usually returns to your previous settings.

      Ideally, you set as much as you can through the lens and then evaluate on the screen in LiveView. However, that isn’t always practical.

      Try to set all your options in Aperture Priority mode through the lens (even try tightening up your f-stop to say f/16 or f/22), enter LiveView, lock your exposure where you want it and then see what you have on-screen. If it’s a white ball on a black screen, that’s what you’re going to record. If you see the man in the moon, that’s what you’re going to record.

      Just remember that if your shutter speed drops too far (around your video framerate) it will lie to you and say it’s going lower, but it won’t be… And it might be bumping up the ISO as well then.

      Try setting and locking the exposure indoors with light or by having a white page lit by flashlight partially covering the lens. That’s about all I can suggest without more information.

  16. Thanks so much for the great review, I was hoping you could offer a little advice? I have been following the steps listed, setting and locking iso/shutter speed, using the lock, and taking a picture to verify aperture settings. I am having 2 issues,

    1) When I zoom, the picture gets really dark.
    2) Even when I don’t zoom, the video looks great when viewed on the camera, but once I watch the video on any computer it is dark as if under exposed.

    please help=(

    • Hey Andrew,

      I apologize for not getting back to you sooner.

      Regarding zooming getting darker, that is the normal behaviour of a regular zoom lens. F-Stop is a reflected ratio of the aperture opening to the focal length of the lens. As you “zoom in”, you’re increasing your focal length, but by default not adjusting your f-stop, so the ratio increases causing the need for more light to get the same exposure. As a thought experiment, let’s presume the light coming into your lens from a scene is 1000 lumens for the lowest focal length. As you increase your focal length, you are taking a smaller amount of the same total amount of light, so your exposure will drop. Expensive lenses (ones that zoom that have only a single f-stop number) compensate by opening up the aperture as you zoom in thereby holding the same effective f-stop.

      Note that for the D5100 in LiveView mode, zooming in is doing the same thing as changing your aperture setting. It will not compensate and will therefore go darker. After zooming, you should either exit and re-enter LiveView or snap a picture to have it rebalanced.

      As for your second problem, that can be a lot more subjective based off of the brightness setting on your D5100 display, your computer display and the lighting situation you’re observing on both the camera and computer. I would suggest if you’re shooting in dark conditions, drop your monitor brightness on the D5100 to -3 so you will try to expose more brightly. It pays to remember that the monitor is a rough reflection of what the final product will be. It’s challenging to keep sharp focus, exposure, etc on the D5100 display as it doesn’t have the same resolution as your computer monitor and will usually be seen in far more varied conditions. It takes some practice to find the right level of exposure that reads on your camera display properly.

      You could have a picture of a decent exposure level as reference on your camera, then before you setup to shoot video, just preview the image on the display and then try to adjust your settings on the camera’s exposure to match the intensity you viewed in the decently exposed image. That hopefully will help out.

      It’s a real challenge to determine what’s happening without witnessing the conditions of the shot and what you are seeing on-screen.

      • Kelly, my question is so elementary yet so perplexing for me-- I am having problems with manual focusing. D5100. What am I doing wrong?

        After entering LiveView and focusing on a stationary subject, my frame appears sharp but the final video is drastically out-of-focus to the point of embarrassment. I am using a tripod, too.

        • Hey Gaylon,

          Manual focus on the D5100 under LiveView requires you zoom in on the LiveView display (using the magnifying glass buttons on the lower right and the d-pad to move where you’re zooming into) to ensure you really are in focus. I suggest first adjust focus through the viewfinder and then fine-tune if needed. You could try filming with a higher aperture to open up your depth of field as well, but you will have to adjust your lighting or ISO to compensate. If you’re aperture is already f8 or higher (max of f18, higher only if too bright already), this probably won’t help.

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