DSLR Filmmaking: Video Basics By Mia McCormick

23 min

In this class you will learn about the key camera settings needed for video, how to choose the right lens for capturing motion, the important role your memory card can play, how the pros keep their subjects in focus, and so much more. If you’ve been neglecting the video functions on your DSLR because you haven’t been satisfied with the quality of your footage then this class is for you!

Video transcripts available with a subscription.

Mia introduces the class, discusses what material will be covered, and jumps right into the first topic, resolution.
The frame rate you choose can affect the feel of your video, so it is helpful to understand the different frame rate options.
Choosing the correct shutter speed is based on the frame rate of your video.
There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing a lens for DSLR video.
Like sunglasses for your camera, a neutral density filter is a valuable accessory for letting you shoot with a wide aperture in bright light.
When it comes to video you are going to get better results using manual focus.
Memory card speed and overall capacity are critical for shooting video.
The camera's LCD screen is difficult to see in bright daylight, so having an attachment that shades the sun is incredibly helpful.
The fluid head tripod is a videographers best friend.
A video monopod is different than a monopod is different than a still photography monopod.
Upgrading your microphone is the best thing you can do for improving your audio. Understanding the different types of microphones will help you choose the right one for the situation you are recording.
Profile photo of Mia McCormick

Meet your instructor

Mia McCormick


Mia McCormick works as a resident video technology expert for KelbyOne and B&H Photo. She's a KelbyOne Instructor with courses ranging from basic camera operation to capturing outstanding video on your DSLR. Mia also conducts a series of business and inspirational interviews providing insights from some of the world's leading photog...

Mia's Courses


Join the Discussion
  1. Profile photo of richardbremer richardbremer

    Great course, Mia! I tried out filming this weekend and I really liked it. I will be doing this next to my photography to become more allround :)

    I do have a question. You mention shutterspeed and give an excellent reason why to set it manually. But will it work when I’m in aperture priority? Will my camera select the correct shutterspeed by default? Or should I pop into manual mode? I ask this because I do some weddings, and some settings are shot in A mode. Popping into manual is another touch of a button, and I want to minimise that as much as possible :)

    Thanks again, and I’m looking forward to the advanced courses! (And my local store is looking forward to me buying a monopod, lavalier and slider :p)

    1. Profile photo of Mia McCormick Mia McCormick

      It really depends on the camera, but most likely the answer is no. You’ll need to set it in manual mode. If you have any more questions please email me at miam@kelbymediagroup.com. Happy to help:)

  2. Profile photo of bloke557 bloke557

    Great course! I just want to mention how I work my setups. I shoot mainly special services in church, with video from several cameras. Unfortunately, I am usually part of the service, so the cameras have to be “set and forget”. Due to the frustrating limit on clip length with DSLR video, I have to move around the church when I can to restart them. I use a Zoom H1 audio recorder, which sells for about $100, as I am on a very limited budget. I don’t plug it into any of the cameras, however. I have found that I can use that as the ‘master’ audio track, and visually sync up the individual camera audio tracks with this during my editing process. It isn’t exactly the BBC, but most people who watch the videos seem to like them.

    I also wondered why you didn’t mention USM focusing lenses, when talking about auto-focus. I thought that they were the quiet ones. I am using basic kit lenses, and any focusing sounds just awful on the camera soundtrack. Provided I can use my Zoom soundtrack, I can get around this, but if we have quiet STM and USM, what is the designation for the noisy system on the cheaper lenses?

    1. Profile photo of Mia McCormick Mia McCormick

      USM stands for UltraSonic motor. The main advantage is that the lens autofocuses faster than a standard lens. Many times it’s also quieter, which is great for shooting wildlife. But quiet is not silent. If you don’t want hear the autofocus in your video footage stick to a stepping motor (STM).

  3. Profile photo of Tom Tom

    Thank You MIA , Very good and to the point, Looking forward to advanced classes

  4. Profile photo of Dave Trendler Dave Trendler

    Perfect level of detail for beginners. Very helpful. Thank you!

  5. Profile photo of stephan.oschmann stephan.oschmann

    Hi Mia,

    great class and and very nicely done. I have a couple of questions though.
    I’d like to know, why exactly you’d prefer an STM powered lense and didn’t mention ultrasonic motors.

    And also very important: You mentioned the 7d and its nice auto focus, I think the 7d Mark II has some great focusing options, so it might be worth a lesson to discuss this as this is Canon’s newest and highest priced crop camera with some great new features (especially for shooting videos). Is that something that might be included in future?

    Greetings from Germany,


  6. Profile photo of kenshi2008 kenshi2008

    Good introduction. Diffidently watch more video courses.

  7. Profile photo of willythezen willythezen

    HI Mia! Very grateful for this video. But i have a question : i have a camera Canon 700D and wish to buy in next days a canon T4i Eos Rebel, wich type of lens do you recommend me? I notice that i wish to capture something very professional. thanks be blessed!

  8. Profile photo of Jack Jack

    Mia: What a wonderful intro to expanding the world of our DSLR’s to include video. I have been reticent to make the plunge until i recently watched Scott on The Grid extolling the virtues of editing within Photoshop. By combining your suggestions for capture and Scott’s for post production I am now preparing to take the plunge. Perhaps with the advanced class you are working on the two of you could combine your talents for the planned lessons?
    By the way, I was most appreciative to your no nonsense style of presentation. You are a true pro. Thank you.

  9. Profile photo of SergeAMH SergeAMH

    Well, what can I say? First off, the class was short, concise and absolutely wonderful. Now, why did I watch it? I just finished watching The Grid episode where Scott and RC explained how to do the 5-minute video editing on Photoshop and they mentioned your class, Mia. Thanks to courses taken here at KelbyOne, I now have a great, fun and budding career in photography! Now, video’s next. Thanks for a great course, Mia!

  10. Profile photo of pmsswim pmsswim

    really a wonderful introduction to DSLR video. Ms. McCormick has excellent presenter skills.
    hopefully, she will continue this course in the future — a more advanced DSLR video course?

  11. Profile photo of Luke Luke

    or does it work by one receiver connected to camera and as many “mics” transmitters that would be allowed?

    1. Profile photo of Mia McCormick Mia McCormick

      We used a wireless lavalier microphone set up. So Charles was wearing the lav connected to a transmitter in his pocket. The wire was run under his shirt to hide it. That sends a wireless signal to the receiver. The receiver is mounted on the 5D with an accessory shoe and it comes with a cable that plugs into the camera’s mic port.

  12. Profile photo of Luke Luke

    great class, only thing I would have liked to have seen was the lavalier mic set up. We heard it but I didn’t see anything connected to the camera or is it picked up separately on some type of audio mixer?

  13. Profile photo of Ross Ross

    This class is precisely as advertised. It is for folks new to DSLR video. Having written and taught this topic for a couple of years, kudos to the Kelby One team and to Instructor Mia McCormick for the right amount of information, presented clearly and concisely without the techno babble that can scare off budding videographers. Since we know that over 90% of DSLR owners have NEVER tried the built in video capability of their camera, this is a highly recommended class and should be part of any Getting Started with your DSLR curriculum.

  14. Profile photo of Katie Katie

    Excellent starter course. Love the basics on shutter speeds and frame rates. Super helpful! Mia, you’re the best! Pair this with RC’s course on working with video in Photoshop and you’re good to go!

  15. Profile photo of Catherine Martin Catherine Martin

    I loved this course Mia and learned a lot. What lavaliere microphone do you recommend? I have a Nikon D800E and also a D7000. Thanks so much.
    Catherine Martin

    1. Profile photo of Mia McCormick Mia McCormick

      Hi Catherine, if you are plugging in directly to the camera and not looking for something professional then the Polsen OLM-10 is an affordable, easy to use option. It clips right on to your “talent’s” shirt. If you are looking to capture something more professional try a lavalier plugged into an external recorder. Here’s a relatively affordable pair to try : Audio-Technica AT899 and Zoom H4n.

  16. Profile photo of David Powell David Powell

    Will you be conducting an advance class in DSLR Film Making in the future?

    1. Profile photo of Mia McCormick Mia McCormick

      Hi David. We are currently in production for an entire series of classes specifically on DSLR filmmaking. Included will be an advanced class, lighting, post production, stabilization, and much more so stay tuned!

      1. Profile photo of Joe Teceno Joe Teceno

        Great intro video Mia. Is that series ready?

  17. Profile photo of James James

    Just watched this Video Basics Course and as a photographer that rarely uses video it was a great intro. The video sparked my interest to learn more. Mia as always was great in front of the camera and should be encouraged to get up out of her chair more often and expand her role as an instructor. Keep up the great work Mia and Kelbyone.

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