Video Camera Basics – Microphones, Zoom, and Focus

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 38,868
    David Rotan, Video Production Manager with Monkeysee, explains basic video camera tips and techniques that you can use to shoot your home videos.

    David Rotan: Hi! I am David Rotan, Video Production Manager with Monkeysee.

    com and I am showing you cameras tips that you can take with you anywhere and use just to shoot your home movies. So first let's talk about the microphone of the camera you might be using. I am using a very small consumer camera like something you would find in any electronic store and it's got a little built on mic, they are not that great to be honest with you. The microphones are very tricky to get the best effect out of it own camera mic, it really needs to be pointed at the subject and it needs to be fairly close, you know, if you are very far away, it's not going to pick up that well. So it's important if you are using the own camera microphone on your small consumer camera to speak loud, clearly, and to make sure there is no background noises that would distract, such as if you were shooting outside, cars going by or airplanes overhead or crowds of people walking around.

    You might also really want to read up on your user's manual for your particular model of camera to see if there is an external microphone jack, if you are going to use an external microphone, which you can find relatively cheap at some electronic stores, moderately priced wireless microphones and it will really add to the quality of the audio of your video. Okay, some other tips to keep in mind. Try to use the zoom very sparingly, all video cameras, even from the smallest to the largest have an automatic zoom function usually located near the grip where you put your hand in, if you were to hand-hold your camera. It's just a little button depending on the pressure that you apply with your fingers; it varies the speed of your zoom. If you press down really hard on the T for instance with the tight, it's going to zoom in very fast. If you just barely apply pressure to that T it's going to go very smooth. So you want to use that zoom sparingly and very slow and controlled. This takes practice, you are going to have to practice with the pressure you apply to your zoom buttons on your particular model of camera, and it's not in and out, in and out, in and out, which can be very distracting. A very important point to always remember for your videos is the focus, always stay in focus, nothing screams bad video than a blurry out of focus shot that you just can't tell really what's going on, it's just soft, you know, you want a good clean focus on everything you shoot. I strongly urge you to really read up in the user's manual for the particular camera model that you have bought, and learn how to use the manual focus, as opposed to always relying on the auto focus. Auto focusing is easy to do, it's very tempting just to flip that switch, and just go with auto focus. But it has its limitations; the camera doesn't know what you are trying to focus on. It's focusing on the first moving subject that it sees in front of this lens. So if there is any form of movement in between your subject and the lens, it will go out of focus, and focus on whatever movement that might be, and then try to reset and refocus on what you wanted to, and it's going to go in and out of focus and look really blurry and bad. The easiest tip to remember for how to set good manual focus on what you want the camera to be focused on, is to zoom in nice and tight before you start filming, zoom in very tight and adjust your focus at that point, so that it's nice and clean and crisp in focus on my eyeballs or my nose, and then zoom the camera back out and if it's in manual focus mode, it will stay in focus on your subject, what you just focused on really nice and tightly, it's going to stay and hold that focus and not change. Now different cameras, all cameras are different, so some cameras have a manual focus ring around the lens just like a still camera would, where you adjust the focus that way, and others are a little more complex, where you have to go into the user's menu and select manual focus and then you might adjust the focus with a little dial on the side as in this small camera that we are using today.

    So in either case remember, manual focusing is a plus that will really add to the quality of your video.