Basic Techniques

Video recording with a digital camera

Written by Gail Bjork

Tips for recording better videos with a digital camera, what to do and what to avoid.

Suggestions for improved digital camera video recording:Action clipboard

  • For best results, shoot video when there is plenty of light, otherwise images will contain noise.
  • The beginning and end of a hand-help video are often shaky due to switching the recorder on and off. Begin recording slightly before needed and stop recording a little longer than needed. The beginning and ending segments can be easily cut when editing.
  • Some suggest shooting videos in segments of under one minute to keep the movie from becoming boring. There are exceptions such as if you want to record an entire speech.
  • Shorter segments can be joined by using video editing software that often comes with the camera.
  • Leave headroom at the top of the video when taking movies of people so it doesn’t look like they are hitting the upper part of the screen during playback.
  • If your digital camera has Image Stabilization, set it to continuous IS mode when shooting video, (video mode may be set to continuous IS by default).
  • If you take lots of video, you may wish to purchase a tripod with a fluid pan head that can be panned at 360 degrees and tilted up and down.
  • If your digital camera is capable of zooming while video recording, don’t zoom in and out too much as it can be distracting when replaying the video. If and when you use the zoom, zoom slowly. You can also move back and forth with your feet instead of zooming.
  • Move your camera slowly when switching from one area of a scene to another. This will let changes in exposure transition more naturally if one part of the scene is brighter than another.
  • Some video modes do not focus continuously so don’t make dramatic changes in distance to your subject.

Known issues when shooting video

Bar of light on the LCD

A bar of red or purple light  may appear on the LCD monitor when photographing a subject that is ‘too bright.’ This is a normal occurrence in devices containing CCDs and does not constitute a malfunction and will not show in still photos.

However, the light will be recorded when shooting video. Change you angle when shooting video should this bar of light appear on the LCD.

Flickering video

While CMOS sensors do not have the “bar of light” problem, the can produce video that flickers, known as rolling shutter.  The problem becomes more evident when the camera is moved quickly or when shooting under flourescent lights. For the later, setting white balance and exposure manually may resolve the problem.

Hot pixels when shooting video

DSLR sensors that are run for several minutes may develop “hot pixels.” The issue may be cleared by not using the camera for 15 minutes.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

11 Comments

  • Kevin, yes, photographing into the sunlight can leave lines in your video. Change your angle when shooting into bright light until you don’t see the bar of light on the LCD. If that doesn’t help, you may have a sensor problem.

    If the scratches on your lens don’t appear in photos, I’d leave the lens alone. If they appear, and the camera is expensive, have the lens professionally repaired.

    Otherwise, I’ve read that camera users have had success using “Scratch Out” (for cars) or a midly abrasive toothpaste. Use these with caution, as you don’t want to make the lens worse or remove any coating on the lens.

  • Ok so I use a toshiba camileo x100 camcorder, and it can record and take pictures fine. But When I use my fisheye lens on it and i take a picture out in daylight (with fisheye) the image gets yellow/black and white lines. generally just black or yellow. I was thinking maybe its from sunlight shooting into the ccd sensor and maybe being magnified by the 3 lenses within my fisheye. Is that what it is? And any suggestions how to fix it? (another separate question, how do you repair lens scratches?)
    -kevin

  • My Nikon 8700 has a pause button that I use when I’m shooting a video, much easier than splicing a movie together. However………..when I looked in the manual there was no mention of a pause button and the experts at Nikon said it can’t be done. You  click on the “quick” button to pause your movie and again to continue shooting.

  • I know of no digital camera that has a pause button when shooting video. You need to press the shutter button to start recording and then press it again to stop recording. Then press the shutter button again to begin recording again. You can splice your videos together with software. Basic video software usually comes on the CD that comes with the camera.

  • If your digital camera does not have a pause button, your only option is to stop recording, wait for the camera to save the video file, then start again. You can edit a video, join it with another and add transitions via the ZoomBrowser software that comes with Canon digital cameras (Tasks > Edit > Edit Movie).

  • While taking a video in the digial camera ( canon powershot) is there any pause option so that the video shot continuously.
    Kindly let me know

  • Use a program like Windows Movie Maker or Apple QuickTime Pro that have a feature to slow down (and speed up) video clips. Before purchasing any video editing program, check the specifications and features to make sure it meets your specific needs. Since Digicamhelp deals primarily with Digital Cameras and still photography, you may want to find and post this inquiry in a Camcorder forum.

  • digital video recording accidently recorded in fast forward mode!! How can I change this to normal speed in order to view it.

  • How can I brighten the movies I take inside with my Canon power shot sd600?  Some are so dark that I can’t see the people in them in a candle lit room or a dimly lit room. If you don’t know –can you tell me where to find out. Thank you for your time.