ISO, shutter speed, aperture, these are terms that can seem confusing at first, but are essential to creating high quality YouTube videos. Because of how many different cameras there are out there, I’ve written this article so that everything you read can apply to whatever camera you’ll be using.
After you read this article, I highly encourage you to continue doing thorough research on these terms to help get a better understanding of the different camera settings and how they work. Once you know more about these settings, you’ll truly start to produce your best work when vlogging on YouTube.
ISO Settings – Your Camera’s Sensitivity to Light
ISO is how sensitive the camera’s sensor is to light. ISO usually starts at 100, and depending on your vlogging camera, can go all the way up to 100,000! I don’t advise going over 1600 ISO unless you absolutely have to, or you have a camera like the Sony A7S II that excels in low light conditions.
The main goal when setting your ISO is to try and keep it as close to 100 as possible, which will produce the sharpest image with zero visual noise. On a sunny day of filming outside this will be easy, but when you’re indoors, you may not be able to see a thing. This is where you’ll want to start upping your ISO.
The further away you get from ISO 100, the more noise will become visible in your image. Visual noise is the digital version of film grain, only it doesn’t look good. When indoors, most people will be good to set their ISO at 800. This should make your sensor sensitive enough to the lower lighting conditions but still keep the noise down.
There are tons of software plugins out there that’ll remove noise in post production, but once you pass ISO 1600 it’s going to be harder to do so. Here are some tips on how you can get good lighting for YouTube videos, which will allow you to keep your ISO closer to 100.
The Aperture is the circular blades you see inside the lens. The aperture numbers you see on your vlogging camera lens are called F stops. These F stops are how you control the blades to allow light to come in and hit the camera’s sensor.
Lenses can have an aperture range from f/1.4 to f/22. At f/22, your aperture will have a hole in the middle the size of a pin, and as you get closer to f/1.4 you’ll see it get bigger.
I recommend keeping your aperture in the range of f/2.8 – f/5.6 if you can, as this will give you nice cinematic depth of field. If you plan on filming vlogs a lot outside, it may be difficult to keep it in that range without using something like a ND Filter, which we’ll talk about later in this article.
Your vlogging camera’s shutter is the gateway between the aperture and the camera’s sensor. Shutter speed is the length of time when the camera’s sensor is exposed to light. If your shutter is set to 1/100th of a second, then that will let half as much light in as 1/50th.
Now because we’re dealing with filming videos, you’ll always want to set your camera shutter speed to double what your frame rate is. So if you’re filming YouTube videos at 24fps, then your shutter speed should be set to 1/50th (digital cameras round up to 1/50th instead of 1/48th).
You can vlog at higher or lower shutter speeds for creative effect, but if you want to stick to normal looking footage, then do keep your shutter speed at double your camera’s frame rate.
This also applies to filming YouTube videos in slow motion. If you’re vlogging at 120fps, then your shutter needs to be 1/250th (again, digital cameras round up by 10s).
Frames Per Second Rate
Your vlogging camera’s frame rate (aka frames per second or FPS) is essentially how many pictures the camera is taking every second you film a video. Every movie you’ve ever watched was shot and displayed at 24fps, meaning in 1 second of video you’re seeing 24 individual frames.
One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make when it comes to filming your YouTube videos is to pick what frame rate you’re going to film at. Once you’ve chosen which frame rate you’re going to vlog with, you’re going to have to stick to it from then on.
This is because 24fps and 30fps don’t mix well in post production. Let’s say you filmed some of your YouTube vlog at 24fps and some of it at 30fps and now you’re in the edit. If your editing sequence is set to 30fps, then everything you filmed at 24fps will look much different.
This can be distracting to you and your YouTube channel’s viewers. By keeping your FPS consistent, it’ll allow you to easily edit old footage into newer episodes.
You see vloggers like Casey Neistat doing this all the time. Whenever Casey sees an old friend or travels to a place he’s been before, he will usually cut to that old footage. The reason why he’s able to do this is because he’s been filming YouTube videos at the same FPS this whole time, so when he inserts older footage, it works seamlessly with the current footage he’s editing.
I’m personally a fan of filming at 24fps. I find it’s the perfect amount of motion for the human eye and gives a more cinematic feel to the footage, but if you like 30fps better I’m not going to stop you.
I personally find 60fps distracting by how smooth the motion is and advise not shooting at 60fps because not only is it distracting, but it also means less light is hitting your sensor.
The higher your FPS is, the more light you’ll need. The only time you’ll want to shoot with a higher FPS is if you want to film in slow motion for your YouTube videos. Cameras like the Panasonic GH5 can shoot up to 180fps so you can get beautiful buttery smooth slow motion footage, and even your iPhone can shoot up to 120fps at 1080p.
So if slow motion is important to you, then make sure when purchasing your vlogging camera that this is an available feature. Peter McKinnon is a perfect example of how to utilize beautiful slow motion clips to enhance your YouTube vlogs.
Auto Settings with Shutter Priority
That was a lot of information to take in and we barely covered half of the things you should know for effectively using cameras when vlogging, but this was a start!
If you’re new to cameras, there’s nothing wrong with filming your YouTube videos on auto-settings. I still use auto settings when it calls for it. My only recommendation when it comes to shooting auto settings is to actually shoot in “Shutter Priority” mode.
When you look at the settings dial on your vlogging camera, Auto settings are usually represented by a green “A”. For shutter priority mode, you need to turn that dial to the “S” icon. Shutter Priority mode does exactly what it sounds like.
Let’s say you’re filming your YouTube videos at 24fps, which means your shutter speed should be 1/50. Your outside, it’s bright, and you still want to get that cinematic motion blur but don’t want to up your shutter speed to compensate for the light.
In shutter priority mode, your vlogging camera prioritizes staying at that 1/50th shutter speed, while automatically adjusting the camera’s F stop, white balance, and ISO. I personally think this creates a better image because even though having a high F stop is not ideal, having a higher shutter speed creates a weird jittery image.
Cameras settings for creating high quality YouTube videos can seem overwhelming at times, but everything will start to come naturally and with practice. Remember to follow these methods while filming, and once you start to know your vlogging camera better, your unique style will emerge.
VLOG NATION CONTRIBUTOR
Chris Monteiro is a Canadian videographer and drone pilot, who is passionate about creating dynamic digital content. An avid traveller, Chris loves to explore new places with his Sony A7Sii in hand and aims to tell engaging stories about what he captures through his lens.
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