Don’t Shoot in Auto

5 Reasons to not shoot video in auto

As any professional would tell you shooting in Auto mode is a “sin” for any aspiring videographer. Shooting in manual is the most important production skill you can learn as an aspiring photographer or filmmaker. However, for most new videographers shooting in auto isn’t a preference but due to a lack of knowledge or simply a fear of messing up a shot they don’t try to shoot manually. If it’s fear keeping you from shooting in manual then try practicing with friends or family and not real world clients, eventually you will gain the confidence you need to shoot in manual. If it’s simply a lack of knowledge then look no further, camera refuge has tons of tutorials and resources that can help you take your skills to the next level. Lastly, sometimes we just don’t know why we should be shooting in manual mode in the first place. The following will explain the top reasons why shooting in auto will be disastrous for your creative vision.

1. Your camera doesn’t always know what to focus on.

Turning off autofocus is the first step to creating great quality videos and film. Autofocus looks at your image and through analyzing contrast and composition makes it’s best guess as to what the videographer wants to see. This brings up problems when there is a lot of contrast or people in your scene. The camera can easily get confused and when this happens the cameras focus will usually start “dancing” between your subject and the background or even be out of focus entirely.. Needless to say being out of focus is a very bad thing and there is pretty much no way to fix this in post production. It should also be noted that autofocus is especially bad in low light situations.

2. You might end up with underexposed or overexposed subjects.

Unlike the human eye most cameras are unable to see a lot of detail between light and dark. To fix this problem most cameras try to balance the bright areas and the dark areas to fight a goldielocks point, not too much bright not too much dark….just right. But that’s not always a good thing, sometimes you want there to be more brightness in an image for example when you are outside on a bright sunny day your camera will automatically make everything darker, including your subject and if they are standing in the shade say hello to shadow monster. The same is true when you are inside a dark room the camera will automatically brighten the exposure so any bright areas you had in the scene will be blown-out, now instead of a well lit subject you have a ghost.

3. You might not have a cinematic depth of field

Depth of field refers to the amount of area of detail that is in focus in any given shot. A shallow depth of field is a very easy way to make a shot look very cinematic and professional. But do to some semi-complicated processes explained in “What is depth of field?” you camera doesn’t care whether or not you have a shallow depth of field it is only concerned with finding the most balanced exposure. So instead of you shot looking like a movie it now looks like a sitcom.

4. Your subjects might become flying blurs.

Have you ever shot a video looking out the window of your car and everything looked extremely blurry and tilted sideways? Well this problem is due to an improper shutter speed. Shutter speed is how fast a single frame is exposed to light and determines motion blur in your images. Your camera by default will usually set your shutter speed to double your frame rate meaning that it will probably have a shutter speed of 1/48 or 1/60. This is a good rule of thumb but what if you were shooting a subject that was running really fast at these shutter speeds? You would probably just see a blurry figure running across the screen if you were in auto mode.

5. The colors might be off…

As you probably know different light sources produce different hues of color. These hues are often referred too as color temperatures on the kelvin scale. Indoor tungsten based lights give off an orange color around 3200 degrees kelvin while outdoor sunlight produces a blue color around 5600 degrees kelvin. There are many other color variations that lights can have besides just blue and orange so the whole color process can be very confusing. For your camera it is nearly impossible to know what the right color should be as your camera doesn’t have the ability to know if you’re outside or inside. It just knows the color of the light hitting the sensor. In an effort to balance the light coming in your camera will automatically adjust to new light situations based on it’s perception of the colors. The problem is you’re camera is dumb so hues sometimes get messed up and suddenly your subject is more orange than an Umpa-Lumpa and the window is bright blue! To counteract color problems with your camera use a technique called white balancing to tell your camera what color is white in your scene. Once a white is established you don’t have to worry as much about your colors getting manipulated. To white balance simply have your subject hold up a white sheet of paper or card stock poster, zoom all the way in and hit the handy dandy white balance button. When you zoom out you will have a well balanced image, but remember each time your lighting changes you must re-white balance.

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