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Thread: Learn to use manual controls or buy a better camera?

  1. #1

    Question Learn to use manual controls or buy a better camera?

    I wasn't sure where to post this; if it's in the wrong place, please relocate it to the proper area.

    I'm sure many of you folks have a background in still photography (SLR cams) that has helped you take better video. Manually setting up the camera, for example.

    I have no such background; I'm good at framing shots and composing the picture (rule of thirds, etc) but I know nothing about F-stops or apeture openings. I know WHAT they are but no idea what number is good for what uses.

    Which brings me to my question. I have a beginner's DV cam, a Canon Elura 100. Outdoors, it takes great video but indoor shots tend to be a bit grainy and slightly dark (even though I'm running the tape at full speed, 60 minutes vs. 90 minutes recording time).

    I'm wondering if doing things like manually setting the white balance, aperture, etc would net me better video? Or should I just buy a better camera to begin with and leave it on manual?

    Thanks for any tips or tutorials you can point me to.

  2. #2
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    It is always a good idea to learn manual controls. Auto controls do a dam good job but they only give you one possible set up, and that set up is likely to change as conditions change cau7sing unwanted changes.

    Smaaler cameras tend t be quite fiddly to use in manual mode and are not really designed to be used that way. Larger cameras have the controls set out with manual operation in mind.

    Read up on 'depth of field' to discover how this manual technique can improve your film making. Manual focus is useful if you can do that with your camera.

    I have a 'pro' cam that i use all manual (90% of the time) and a small sony pc4 that I use in all auto (90% of the time) - that suits the way each camera works and reflects how I use them.

  3. #3

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    Thanks for the detailed reply, Mark. My Canon Elura is indeed fiddly to use w/the manual controls...it's almost like they don't want you to do it. I'm pretty sure I can manually focus, though I'll have to read the manual on how to do that...there's no focus ring around the lens.

    I will read up on depth of field.

    Do you think that my piddly little camera is capable of better video in manual mode? I.E. is it worth trying?

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    For you to produce better indoor videos you need more lights. Make sure curtains/drapes are open, make sure you shoot into the room with a window behind you, insert higher wattage bulbs into lights (but stay within the recommended limit) and switch them on even during the daytime to illuminate dark corners. Also think about getting someone to hold a white or gold coloured reflector near to someones face to lift the dark areas. You can also purchase more powerful lights, for example from a builders suppliers. Two five hundred watts on a yellow tripod type device.

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    Quote Originally Posted by michaeld View Post
    Thanks for the detailed reply, Mark. My Canon Elura is indeed fiddly to use w/the manual controls...it's almost like they don't want you to do it. I'm pretty sure I can manually focus, though I'll have to read the manual on how to do that...there's no focus ring around the lens.

    I will read up on depth of field.

    Do you think that my piddly little camera is capable of better video in manual mode? I.E. is it worth trying?
    Worthg a try for sure. But you might find it all too fiddly - small camreas are meant to be used all manual - big cameras, all manual.

    The real answer is a better camera and learn to use it in manual...

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