In this tutorial we'll cover some photography basics that will help introduce you to DSLR camera exposure and how it affects your images. We'll cover the terminology and meaning of various camera settings, and go over recommended settings.

Here are the options for DSLR Live View/Burst, Photo, and Video in PBU DSLR Settings:


And here is a break down into the effects and changes of Av, Tv, and ISO settings:


Av (Aperture/F-Stop):

The Av setting adjusts the size of the iris of the camera; the hole through which light enters the camera body and strikes the sensor. Similar to how the pupil of the eye works. As depicted in the image above, the higher the Av number, the smaller the hole in the lens will be. Not only does Av adjust the amount of light that is able to enter the camera, it will also cause changes in depth of field.  The larger the Av value, the more everything in view of the lens will appear in focus between your subject and background.  The smaller the Av value, the more depth and focus changes will be visible between your subject and background (or foreground). Essentially, a lower Av value will blur the background and make your images look more professional, but there is a risk that groups of people may be partially out of focus if some are closer or farther away from the camera.

The settings for Av should be changed based on lighting, environment/space, and desired effect. In most instances, we find that adjusting the setting somewhere between 5.6 and will give us a nice image. Higher Av values should only be used in brighter environments like direct sunlight.


Tv (Shutter Speed/Exposure time):  

The Tv setting adjusts the amount of time the camera shutter is open. It is usually measured in fractions of a second, e.g. 1/30 is one thirtieth of a second. The lower the value (1/60 is lower than 1/30), the more frozen the image will appear.  The higher the value, the more motion blur will be captured.  

These settings will change based on lighting, environment/space and desired effect. In most instances, we find that keeping Live View/Burst on Bulb and Photo between 1/100 and 1/60 gives us a great look. If you are in bright light, try 1/250.

If you're shooting video you should set Video to 1/30 or 1/60 or 1/125 (depending on the video frame rate set in the camera). If you don't, your video setting will switch to 1/30 or 1/60 or 1/125 when you start recording, which could make your videos darker if the Tv value was set to something like Bulb.


ISO (International Standards Organization):  

Determines the sensitivity of the image sensor to light. The lower the value, the less sensitive the sensor will be to light. ISO is a great way to quickly brighten or darken the image. However, the higher the value, the more "noise" will appear in your image. You should never go over 1600 ISO for photos unless you have a very good reason.

We generally find setting Live View/Burst and Video to 800 and Photo to 400 works well.

White Balance (WB):

This is the process of adjusting color so that objects which appear white in person are rendered white in your photo. White balance takes into account the "color temperature" of light. Tungsten, for example, should be used when the subject is under incandescent light. It will take some testing to find the best White Balance for your scenario, but we often find Auto or Cloudy work well for us.

Image Quality:

This adjusts the original image quality and size for photos. Middle Fine Jpeg is usually the best option for most photos. Switching to Small is only necessary if you're worried about hard drive space.

DSLR Movie Setting:

Lets you choose the pixel dimensions and frame rate of the recorded video. 1280x720 59.94 fps and 1920x1080 29.97 fps are the most used options, but you may see 1280x729 119.9 fps if you're using a camera like the M50 and have it set to HFR mode.

Suggested Video Settings

The settings below are optimal for most videos and generally give us excellent results. These values assume you are using a constant light in a controlled lighting environment. Processing time will be greatly affected by changing your video settings.

Plain or Green Screen Video:

DSLR Movie Setting: 1280x720 @ 59.94 fps or 1920x1080 @ 29.97 fps

Tv: 1/60

Av: 5.6

ISO: 400

WB: Cloudy or Auto

Slow Motion:

Point Gray Flea 3 Camera Settings: 960x720 @ 120 FPS

DSLR Movie Setting: 1280x720 @ 59.94 fps for normal DSLRs or 1280x720 @ 119.9 fps when using the M50.

Video tab settings:

To maximize compatibility, all videos will be re-encoded to MP4 when shared.

Light Painting Settings:

The room you're light painting in should be completely dark.  In most circumstances the following settings will work for your light painting event; however, there may be certain variables that require you to adjust these settings slightly in order to get the desired results.

DSLR Settings

Tv: Bulb

Av: Start at 8

ISO: 200

Changing the Av (or F-stop) value to a higher number will make photos darker. Changing the ISO to a a higher number will make photos brighter but add noise.