D800 video function thread

Started Jun 29, 2012 | Discussions
primeshooter
primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
D800 video function thread

I noticed the other thread kinda descended into a debate about if people wanted the function or not. Personally I don't care about these people's thoughts so I thought I'd start a new thread so we can keep it a little...focused? I've been playing with video for quite a while now and found a few things out which may help other folks on here.

I've been pleasantly surprized with the video and with a little bit of extra kit, you can get impressive results.

To get started, switch to the only mode that gives complete control - Manual. Forget the other modes.

Set your shutter speed to as close as possible match your FPS. So, if you have selected 30FPS set your shutter speed to 1/30 and leave it there - you are done. The aperture is a creative choice, obviously and ISO will depend on the light, and your aperture settings of course. White balance is something that is best to alot of the time leave on auto intially to give you a reading, then switch it to manual and leave it from there. Set your desired picture control from the liveview screen. I think NL resembles how I see the world as I hate the oversaturated look. It also leaves a good range of tones to edit further or leave if you wish.

If recording to a card, set high quality and select 1080 and either 24FPS or 30FPS for a cinematic match to your footage.

Plug in a set of headphones to the socket and listen to the sound level (ambient) before pressing record. I'd then recommend going into the menu and changing the level from AUTO to manual and reducing it down a little. It's way too high in auto and picks up extra noise you wouldn't normally want in your recording and a little buzzing sometimes. If you do not want sound - say you are going to put music as your soundtrack only - turn it to OFF in the menu.

Try to use prime lenses, or if you must use a zoom, forget it has a zoom ring during filming. Stop and change your focal length or move nearer but don't zoom in and out during video (feels naff). Even old old primes that are very cheap to buy now are great for video. Do not worry about how sharp a lens is for video as it's mostly irrelevant.

The main issue is focus. Forget autofocus, switch to manual and learn to focus pull. There are focus follow rigs you can buy off amazon and ebay etc however to start with, to get a feel for it I found this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wr7ODWNcMoY&list=FLxp7740JypwS-B8DuDZ67wQ&index=11&feature=plpp_video This costs like £6 delivered and involves a much easier and smoother way of manual focus. (You can find it if your look on AMAZON US too).

Focus is difficult the wider your aperture is (obviously). If you are shooting with a 24mm lens at f/16 focus will be a breeze. If you mount a 50mm or 85mm 1.4 and put the lens to f/1.4 you are gonna have a hard time unless you are a good bit away from your subject which will give you increased DOF. If it's a static scene press the + button and put the red focus box over your subject then manual focus your lens. You can press record and it'll instantly zoom out.

What else are you gonna need?

Tripod. Get a tripod, even a cheap one - it's one of the biggest things that will make your video better right off the bat, something to stabilise, a rig possibly. You can hand hold too, I've been trying to replicate steadicam footage (remember the scene in the shining where the camera follows behind Wendy and Danny in the maze), with some sucess and watching you do not jump up and down from your pelvis whilst walking. A glidecam is useful if you really want to nail it.

Additional mic. (Nikon or 2rd party). If you want decent sound it's a must. The sound isn't that bad from the onboard mic, but even manual focusing it will hear you moving the focus ring!

Patience - it's not easy to get great looking footage and I'm not there yet either.

I hope this gives some users a starting ground, it's what I've figured out so far anyway.

Nikon D800
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Michael Firstlight Veteran Member • Posts: 3,483
Re: D800 video function thread

I took some 1080p video footage last night in dimly lit room - the video is actually very good even in low light. The two bad things were 1) lot of focus hunting and 2) audio is so good it picks up unacceptable lens focus noise. I wort of expect that with an onboard mic, but how much better is the audio with the Nikon add on Mic? Does it eliminate all that focus motor noise and breathing at the camera?

Regards,
Mike

 Michael Firstlight's gear list:Michael Firstlight's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM +28 more
primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
Re: D800 video function thread

Michael Firstlight wrote:

I took some 1080p video footage last night in dimly lit room - the video is actually very good even in low light. The two bad things were 1) lot of focus hunting and 2) audio is so good it picks up unacceptable lens focus noise. I wort of expect that with an onboard mic, but how much better is the audio with the Nikon add on Mic? Does it eliminate all that focus motor noise and breathing at the camera?

Regards,
Mike

Hi Mike. You'll still hear it. As I said, forget auto focus video - there is no way to AF video of a sensor that is 35mm accurately without manual control. You need to use manual focus (sounds horrible I know but it's not as hard as you think with practice). In cinema everything is manual focus due to sensor size and alot of other factors. The additional mic is still worth it, especially when you are going to be doing what we call "pulling focus," so this sound of you slowing moving the ring won't be heard either. I'd also recommend turning down the audio level a bit also.

Tavarino Regular Member • Posts: 153
Re: D800 video function thread

I'm old school when it comes to video, preferring manual everything, but have you tried the LiveView focus features? I was dubious, but having spent hours playing around with both Face-Priority and Subject Tracking AF, I have been relying on them increasingly. Under the right conditions - good lighting and a contrasty target - they do a better job on moving subjects than I can with manual focus.

David H Dennis Regular Member • Posts: 295
Re: D800 video function thread

Haven't gotten my D4 yet, which will be my first video-enabled DSLR, but here are some ideas.

In general, the more you pre-plan your shots, the more likely your project is to be well-suited to DSLR video.

If you can't focus pull because you're short-handed, plan your shots so your subject moves into focus. You can put marks on the floor at the exact place you want her to stop.

Or, better yet, have her move from side to side, staying in focus, instead of front to back (requiring focus changes).

The original poster is correct - you cannot zoom, because DSLR zoom rings are very rough. The solution to this is to purchase a cine zoom lens, designed specially for this. Unfortunately, cine lenses cost in the mid five figures for FX work. Yikes!

Unlike zoom, focus on a high quality lens is good enough to change while filming. For those unaware of the term, that's focus pulling. In professional moviemaking, a dedicated person does it.

You may want to consider DX crop lenses instead of FX for your production. DX lenses combine a wider focal length with a narrower field of view, which means they have more depth of field. So you can get a significantly wider focus range so focus is not quite so crucial as it is in FX.

On the D4, which I'm getting, you can do 1:1 2.7x crop mode, which will allow for even more depth of field and thus easier focus. This apparently is the only really high quality movie mode on the D4, unfortunately. Unfortunately, I don't think it's available on the D800.

The problem with this approach is that if you have more in focus, there is less of a feel of depth of the image. If you look at DSLR films, you will notice they make enormous use of the shallow depth of field associated with the FX sensor. But if you are a beginner, or someone who doesn't have total control over their subject, using a DX lens or even the 2.7x crop mode on the D4 is likely to produce better results.

Hope that helps.

D

 David H Dennis's gear list:David H Dennis's gear list
Leica Q Leica X-U (Typ 113) Nikon D4 Fujifilm X-T1 Nikon D5 +5 more
Keithm Regular Member • Posts: 144
Re: D800 video function thread

Good points but would add that you should consider an external audio recorder for some work. I used a $150 Tascam digital recorder for this performance video captured on my

D800. Replace the camera audio in your NLE software. sky was totally blown out but still fun to watch:

http://youtu.be/aZFcOPWKIes

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
Re: D800 video function thread

Tavarino wrote:

I'm old school when it comes to video, preferring manual everything, but have you tried the LiveView focus features? I was dubious, but having spent hours playing around with both Face-Priority and Subject Tracking AF, I have been relying on them increasingly. Under the right conditions - good lighting and a contrasty target - they do a better job on moving subjects than I can with manual focus.

Thanks for posting this. I'll need to look into this. It'll need great light though as you said.

konoplya Regular Member • Posts: 214
Re: Some more technical tips I came across

saw this posted on a flickr group. pretty useful stuff:

http://photo.vanderkolk.info/photo-article-nikon-d800-video-tricks.php

Bruce Bracken
Bruce Bracken Regular Member • Posts: 313
Good info - couple of minor corrections

Excellent information here that you've put together.

A couple of very minor corrections.

primeshooter wrote:

Set your shutter speed to as close as possible match your FPS. So, if you have selected 30FPS set your shutter speed to 1/30 and leave it there

You can do this, but for it to look better visually, and to mimic the 180 degree shutter, you need to double the number in the exposure that you've used for your FPS, or the closest to it. So, for example, with an FPS of 30, you'd use 1/60. With 24FPS, you'd use 1/50 (since 50 is the closest to 48).

If recording to a card, set high quality and select 1080 and either 24FPS or 30FPS for a cinematic match to your footage.

24FPS is the closest to true cinematic look and feel - 30FPS gives it more of a documentary/television feel to it.

Try to use prime lenses, or if you must use a zoom, forget it has a zoom ring during filming. Stop and change your focal length or move nearer but don't zoom in and out during video (feels naff). Even old old primes that are very cheap to buy now are great for video. Do not worry about how sharp a lens is for video as it's mostly irrelevant.

Zoom lenses work just fine, but as you mention, zooming while recording isn't optimal. And unless you are going for a certain effect created by a certain lens, then sharpness of lens does matter.

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
Re: Good info - couple of minor corrections

Bruce Bracken wrote:
Excellent information here that you've put together.

A couple of very minor corrections.

primeshooter wrote:

Set your shutter speed to as close as possible match your FPS. So, if you have selected 30FPS set your shutter speed to 1/30 and leave it there

You can do this, but for it to look better visually, and to mimic the 180 degree shutter, you need to double the number in the exposure that you've used for your FPS, or the closest to it. So, for example, with an FPS of 30, you'd use 1/60. With 24FPS, you'd use 1/50 (since 50 is the closest to 48).

If recording to a card, set high quality and select 1080 and either 24FPS or 30FPS for a cinematic match to your footage.

24FPS is the closest to true cinematic look and feel - 30FPS gives it more of a documentary/television feel to it.

Try to use prime lenses, or if you must use a zoom, forget it has a zoom ring during filming. Stop and change your focal length or move nearer but don't zoom in and out during video (feels naff). Even old old primes that are very cheap to buy now are great for video. Do not worry about how sharp a lens is for video as it's mostly irrelevant.

Zoom lenses work just fine, but as you mention, zooming while recording isn't optimal. And unless you are going for a certain effect created by a certain lens, then sharpness of lens does matter.

Thanks Bruce, I meant to write double the shutter speed, but somehow my fingers did differently lol!

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
Power aperture a waste?

I've had this set for open and close of the blades however I've noticed that you cannot change this during filming in M or A mode - even confirms my fears in the manual. So my next question, what's the point in the function then? I can adjust aperture the normal way before recording (and since I'm not recording there will be no shake). I thought the whole idea was to be able to smoothy change aperture during filming? Any help appreciated!

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
Just tried to do autofocus video

I want to use manual focus as I've been using but I wanted to test how bad it is, I cannot get it to work at all! I have it set to face detect, AF-F, autofocus set on the lens and body, but all it does is constantly focus then when the video record button is pressed it stops and won't refocus at all, even though it's following the face? What's going on?

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
Re: Power aperture a waste?

primeshooter wrote:

I've had this set for open and close of the blades however I've noticed that you cannot change this during filming in M or A mode - even confirms my fears in the manual. So my next question, what's the point in the function then? I can adjust aperture the normal way before recording (and since I'm not recording there will be no shake). I thought the whole idea was to be able to smoothy change aperture during filming? Any help appreciated!

Figured out you can only do it when recording via HDMI. Nikon Goofed on this one a little.

primeshooter
OP primeshooter Veteran Member • Posts: 4,842
bump

Think I worked it out...only works in really good light. Back to MF anyway, looks better.

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