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Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...

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Slade Mitchell
Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 24, 2013 at 6:45:51 pm

Hey all-

I recently upgraded from a point and shoot to the D3100 by Nikon in order to improve my video making qualities. However, every time I go out and shoot, without fail, the light parts of my footage are way overexposed, and the shadows are way underexposed giving all my footage a very horrible looking high contrast look. I've tried messing with ISO, but didn't quite find a solution there. However, do note that DSLRs are a new thing to me, so I may have just been looking at ISO the wrong way, and it could still be the solution.

I walked outside, and shot this real fast to show you what I mean:






I appreciate any help, and tips that anyone can give in regards to filming with the D3100...

Thanks in advance!
~Slade


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Steve Crow
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:26:15 pm

Ok, let me start off by saying that even experienced shooters can run into this...filming outdoors can be tough under uneven lighting which you you here. A filming location like in your sample clip is particularly difficult so I try to avoid them.

You didn't provide any information on your camera settings (ISO, shutter speed, aperture) which would be helpful however what I see here is a location with spots of very bright sunlight intermixed with closeby areas that are relatively dark.

So if you expose for the darker areas then the areas in brighter sunlight are going to be overexposed and vice versa. On Hollywood films, professional photoshoots and larger productions they sometimes bring in very large "silks" to reduce, soften and even out harsher light which means you and/or the camera don't have to make such drastic exposure choices - do I expose for the lighter or the darker areas or somewhere in between?

Are you filming on an automatic exposure mode, letting the camera make all the exposure decisions for you? If so, any camera is going to get confused by a location like this. I suggest always shooting in full manual mode which as a new DSLR Video shooter you may find intimidating but it's such a better way to shoot and learn.

I don't really have any solution for you (except not to shoot locations like that!) but I would be very interested in how other shooter deal with this situation.

I often see the same issue even in Hollywood movies and TV shows where the scene is exposed for the interior but if you look at any windows in the scene, they are blown out. Shots inside a car almost always suffer from this problem,

I do know that there is a film you can buy (kind of like what car window tinters use) which you place on the outside of any outdoor facing window which dramatically cuts down the light and so makes the indoor/outdoor lighting more even and easier to get a balanced exposure.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Steve Crow
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:31:52 pm

Oh, the other thing I would add is to make sure you have set up your camera to give you the best shot at a "film look" - there are tons of tutorials online for Nikon and Canon shooters on how to do this. Basics include shooting in 24p and at 1/50 shutter speed and turning the in-camera sharpening all the way down, opening up the aperture (this may require the use of ND filters). Do some quick research and you will find the correct settings for your camera in under 5 minutes I guarantee.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:54:10 pm

Yeah, I was looking into ND Filters just now as I thought that might fix the issue a little. I will search for those settings now. Thank you!


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 24, 2013 at 10:49:00 pm

Steve -

A simple fix won it for me! Even though the lighting was quite poor, I stepped out again with a shutter of 1/50 like you said as well as some custom settings on the back end, and WHAM, clearer image. At least enough to use color grading! :D

Thank you so much, I obviously still have A LOT to learn. Real quick, is there any reason I should change the Shutter Speed in video form, or should it always stay 1/50 when I am shooting 24fps?

What other things do you think I should try? Anyway, thanks again Steve you're a life saver!


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:25:29 am

Steve-

You and your blog have some great information! Makes me wish I went with Canon instead. :( (Debated it over and over before I decided Nikon) Big shame there, but it's still a DSLR, and it's effeminately better than my Panasonic Point and Shoot I had before! Hehe.

I'm going to pickup an ND filter for sure now, and definitely a Vari ND at that. As for audio, I have been doing videos for a little while, so I do have some decent audio equipment, but just recently upgraded the more expensive half! ;) Either way, thanks for all the help, you can count on me reading many pages of that blog of yours! Haha.

Take it easy!
~Slade


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:40:45 am

Steve-

Sorry to pester you one more time, just wanted to make sure I get the right equipment the first time around, and you definitely know what you're talking about! haha.

I wasn't looking to spend nearly as much as some more popular Vari NDs cost, but I think I may have found one that I am willing to fork over the cash for. Would this be a good choice?

http://www.amazon.com/Polaroid-Multi-Coated-Variable-Neutral-Density/dp/B00...

If not, what do you recommend? I would like to stay under $60 if at all possible, but I did see a few going for $100... CRAZY!

Anyway, what Vari ND do you suggest, and would that do the job if I got it?

Thanks again for the assistance today!

~Slade


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Steve Crow
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 25, 2013 at 12:54:27 am

I don't really have any personal hands on real world basis for comparison since this is the only one I have ever owned but I did find a video customer review on Amazon.com which compared the two:

http://www.amazon.com/Polaroid-Multi-Coated-Variable-Neutral-Density/dp/B00...

Since both you and I are using entry level DSLRs for Video (I STILL am using a Canon T2i!) I honestly believe you would be better off switching over to Canon if your ongoing interest is video. Even the entry entry Rebel line like mine is quite something in what it can do, then there's the 60D which is interesting. If I had the bucks I would probably go for the Canon entry level full frame, I believe it's the 6D but it's out of reach pricewise for me now.

Steve Crow
Crow Digital Media
http://www.CrowDigitalMedia.com


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 25, 2013 at 1:03:06 am

Yeah, it seems I picked the wrong brand. :(

I would love to upgrade to a T3i or T2i, but I used every last dime on the D3100... I guess I could sell it and get a Canon... Hmm.

Well, it's something to think about I guess. Thanks for the help man, I really do appreciate you sticking with me here...


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Kenneth Taylor
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Jul 19, 2014 at 1:14:04 pm

The D3100 does not allow you to control shutter or ISO in video mode, only the f stop. Only the D7000 and up allow you to have manual control over everything. You can change the shutter and ISO but it will only effect the still images. Also, to have your aperture changes take effect you have to exit live view, make the change, then return to live view. Again, changing the aperture in live view will only effect stills. What the camera does in regards to ISO and shutter is unpublished. My guess is the shutter is 1/50 and the ISO is auto. I worked for Nikon USA for a few years and Japan would not provide us with that information.


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:33:37 pm

Steve -

Thank you so much for the reply. I had a good feeling that my problem was lighting this whole time. It's hard to practice when you dont have a subject who is willing to do any acting and stuff like that, haha. I will work on seeing if I can get some more neutral lighting areas, and see if that improves my results. The aperture, ISO, and shutter speed were all being controlled manually, as photography, and video are two things I very much enjoy, and love to learn about, so I am practicing with manual only.

The thing I have the most trouble with is using the focus while trying to shoot, haha. Anyway, thanks for the advice, I will see if I can get a more balanced lighting and try it out.

~Slade


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Ken Jones
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 25, 2013 at 3:07:46 am

I shoot with a Nikon D800. I do not know if the D3100 correlates, but...

The first shoot I did with my D800 the blacks were all crushed and the highlights were blown out. I quickly figured out that you need to have your Picture Control set to "Neutral" instead of the default "Standard". The other biggie (on the D800 at least) is to set your LCD Monitor Brightness to -2. This will give you a more accurate picture to judge exposure with. It also helps to learn how to read a histogram. I was used to reading a waveform so a histogram made no sense until I had a still photographer friend explain it to me.

Here's my menu settings:

SHOOTING MENU
Set Picture Control: NL (Neutral)
I use these settings: Sharpening 3; Contrast 0; Brightness 0; Saturation 2; Hue 0

SETUP MENU
Monitor brightness: -2


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 26, 2013 at 12:07:35 am

I will test these out, and get back to you. I've been looking into T3is recently because I think I made the wrong choice in going with Nikon for a video focus, what do you think of the video capability with your D800, Ken?? Would you change to Canon if you could, or does Nikon do everything just as well. (In your opinion, of course.)


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Ken Jones
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 26, 2013 at 1:40:18 am

The Neutral setting won't look all that different on the camera LCD. You will notice the difference when you transfer the file to your computer.

I like the D800 a lot, but my background is shooting corporate videos with broadcast camcorders like Ikegami, Sony, Panasonic, so the D800 form factor is a pain to deal with, mainly because you do not have an XLR input built in. But the video capabilities are awesome. I like Nikon better than Canon because my brain understands the Nikon menu structure better. I have shot several projects with the 5D MkII with excellent results, but Canon cameras confuse me. Everything seems counterintuitive. When Nikon came out with the D800 I shot a couple of projects with another producer's D800 and I was sold. I now own two of them and shoot tons of two camera interviews. For lenses I use the Nikon 24-70/2.8 and a Nikon 70-200/2.8.

Most of the work I do is internal corporate communications, but a few videos are external. Below are some links to videos I have shot over the last year or so with the D800.


eVgo/Nissan Pilot:





TransCanada
Energy Day 2012:
NBPL 30th:
Prague, OK:
Kountze, TX (Read Ice):
Beaumont, TX (Quality Mat Company):




Energy Day 2013:
Gulf Coast Pipeline Project - Vital to America:


FMC/"IQ Style":





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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 26, 2013 at 1:59:52 am

Ken--

Thanks for the reply! I also shoot a lot of corporate video for a living, and interviews. I got the D3100 to upgrade from a Panasonic "point and shoot."

I will test out your settings when the sun is up tomorrow, and show them to see what you think (How I can make the picture better, etc).

Thanks again!


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David Rehm
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 28, 2013 at 7:54:51 pm

Slade, You did not make the wrong choice. Keep in mind it's not the correct choice either. Nikon, Canon, Panasonic (even other names) all make great video.

Check out this video of a short film that used a Nikon D7000 and a Mark 5D (which is considered the king of DSLRs).





You can't tell the difference as to which shot is which in the film.

I left another post explaining that your whole problem seems to be that you are shooting in the "Standard" picture style. This is great for photos but not for video. Blacks will be too black and highlights slightly blown out. With ALL DSLRs (this includes Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, etc...) you must shoot "flat" - turn down the Saturation and Contrast.

If your camera was a Canon T2i and you shot in a Standard picture style you would have the same feeling. Shoot "flat". Oh, did I say shoot "flat".

For me, (I have a Nikon D7000) my first few video were dark in the shadow areas, and I wasn't sure why. I learned about shooting "flat" and I was actually scared to do it at first. Just one day I was shooting a presenter (a preacher actually) and at the last second I switched my camera to Neutral picture style. I've never looked back since.

Admittedly Canons have that "edge" on video in the DSLR department. But that edge isn't in picture quality, it's in other things. I can't image anyone on here would say Canons have a superior picture quality over Nikons (or vice-versa).

Another added problem you might be facing too is your lens. Did you use the kit lens? If so, that adds to your problem. While the kit lens is OK for some things, I wouldn't recommend it for serious video work. If your budget is tight try getting either one of these two lenses for starters:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/247091-USA/Nikon_2137_Normal_AF_Nikko...
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/606792-USA/Nikon_2183_AF_S_Nikkor_35m...

Lately though I have been using the Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 lens alot as I find it very all around handy. DO NOT get the Vibration Reduction model - as it actually can blur the picture. I found it on eBay for less than $300.

Here are more videos comparing Nikon and Canon.











Again - you did not buy the wrong camera, you just have to know how they work and how they are to be used.

Hope this helps,
David


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Rob Manning
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 26, 2013 at 8:22:24 pm

Slade, Steve makes great points however, back to the issue at hand. You purchased a Nikon HD enabled DSLR, so as with most 'tools', master it's capabilities and it should work for you until you trade up.

Focus: Neither the Canon or Nikon offerings use on camera technology for fast motion resolution (focus) unlike Sony (FS7/A99), or the GH series from Panasonic which resolve motion (movement of a subject) using the sensor/cpu. In other words, until this week when Nikon released video about the new $800 (D5300) body did they address trying to solve that issue (a new lens designed for the body).

So you will be better off shooting in manual mode.

While adherents of the Ford versus Chevy camps (Nikon/Canon) can argue till the cows come home, by most photography measures, Nikon (arguably) has a better DR over Canon. Don't ask me for links though, the threads on that are buried somewhere in Nikonians archives.

Picture Control: Shooting with neutral is best but a Flatt profile, will get more bang from your camera, reducing crushed blacks and burned highlights. http://www.similaar.com/foto/flaat-picture-controls/index.html

ND Grad: Many choices, Genus is what I use and yesterday I shot Eagle Rays as the bright white late afternoon sun was overpowering everything, but set the exposure (for video and stills) on the D800, using the histogram for balance, not how it looked in the live screen because the graph isn't playing tricks on one's eyes. As the sun moved behind the clouds for good, I took the grad off and adjusted once again.

On a machine without LV histogram, set the shot using a still, making sure the ISO, frame rate, etc. are the same. Then look at the NEF to gauge the situation. This is what we do on our D7000s.

Note that on Nikons, the video frame rate (24/30 etc.) is hard set in the movie menu and adjusting the frame rate on camera during a shot or between shots has no effect on the capture. It does affect the exposure. Easy enough to check, shoot with different frame rates then open up in Premiere or other NLE and the data shows filmed at whichever setting is chosen in the movie.

I (we) own 1) D90, 2) D7000s, 1) D3S and 1) D800 plus over a dozen older and newer primes, and the requisite f/2.8 zooms.

There is no way anyone can tell me that buying a camera like yours was a bad decision, based on economics, OK, but bear in mind, no matter which brand of body you choose, the h.264 codec is burning into the data things like WB so getting as clean and balanced a shot as is possible is what matters. They ALL render files at 2MPs.

HTHs

Rob Manning


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 26, 2013 at 10:58:02 pm

Rob-

Thanks for the very in depth reply! All these things have been noted, and I definitely thank you very much for all the details. If you have a job opening, I would love to operate one of those cameras! ;)

I picked up an ND filter, and decided to keep my D3100 for now. I figured you're right, it's better to start with something, rather than wanting to change around cameras already. It's a great camera now that I have fixed the issue, now I just have to learn how to use it better. Especially trying to focus, and record steady at the same time... that's tough.

Thanks again!
Slade


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David Rehm
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 28, 2013 at 8:09:53 pm

Slade, The tiny screen on the DSLR will look focused to our eyes, but it is deceiving. You get home and examine your shots and they're a little soft or even alot out of focus.

A couple of months ago I was getting ready to tape my wife's brother's wedding (with my Nikon D7000) and at the last minute I ordered a loupe. Money was a little tight and this is the one I purchased:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/896300-REG/Vivitar_viv_dslr_lm3_3_LCD...

It saved my butt. The wedding would have been ruined without it.
Definitely get one - even if it's a cheapy for $20. It'll work.

This will ensure you are in focus. The problem (most likely) isn't you, it's trusting that little screen on the back of the camera that tells you you're in focus when it's really not.

David


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 26, 2013 at 11:04:03 pm

Hey all! I fixed it! Try not to laugh at me too hard... please...

But I have been watching all these videos about people saying to turn the contrast all the way, down, so I did, not realizing that Nikon's contrast starts at 0, so I was technically adding contrast by moving the slider all the way to the left as per the videos I was watching (on Canons). More over, I used the Neutral setting, and a 1/50 shutter to make it all better. The results are as follows:

NOTE - I understand the lighting is crap, that is intentional to make it more comparable to the initial video which was shot in the woods as well.







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Rob Manning
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 27, 2013 at 12:40:15 am

Good job Slade.

Some folks would add the sun-lens flares in (a fad these days on TV commercials) in post, yours is au natural of course ;-).


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David Rehm
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 28, 2013 at 7:12:06 pm

Most likely you're shooting in the "Standard" mode(?). Shooting in the "Standard" mode will give you crushed blacks and bright highlights.

Shoot "flat". This takes the saturation and contrast out. This is what you want as it can be recovered in post and you won't have that "harsh" look.

Check out Philip Bloom's site as he will have some info on this.
http://philipbloom.net/

Some custom picture styles to look for:
1. TassinfFlat
2. http://alvaroyus.com/


Here's a video I found compaing some of the picture styles.


David


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Slade Mitchell
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 28, 2013 at 8:29:31 pm

As for these "picture styles" is it a good idea to install those even though I haven't done it before? Or is it better to just shoot in Neutral, and take out contrast and saturation manually?


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David Rehm
Re: Nikon D3100 Video is really giving me a hard time...
on Oct 29, 2013 at 12:38:32 am

You could do either but the custom picture styles are easy to install. You will not mess your camera up in any way shape or form. The camera is meant to load these styles into it. I did it for the first time and with no problems. Just follow the instructions.

Also think of it this way - If you still think you could mess things up (our minds have the tendency to let us think like this) Nikons have an option of resetting the camera back to their factory defaults with the press of 2 buttons on the camera simultaneously.

I use, for the most part, the AlvaroYus-Curve Picture Style, for most things.

I haven't experimented with the picture styles on this link yet:
http://www.similaar.com/foto/flaat-picture-controls/index.html
The Flat_11 is supposed to be the workhorse. I'm actually going to experiment with them tomorrow (we're taking the kids to a farm to go on hayrides)

I would recommend installing ALL the custom picture styles and then taking your camera out and test film 10 seconds or so of the same shot at the same settings - using each picture style. I would also test the Neutral that is already in the camera. Throw them in your computer and color correct them and see which is better for you.

The principle is - the flatter the picture - the better.

There is alot of free stuff out there to help you get more knowledgeable in DSLR shooting. But I would recommend the site lynda.com. You have access to ALL courses on the site for $25 a month. It's a great deal. And they're hassle free, with no problems, when you cancel.
Here a few courses you might find interesting:
http://www.lynda.com/Final-Cut-Pro-tutorials/DSLR-Video-Tips/103707-2.html
http://www.lynda.com/Premiere-Pro-tutorials/Up-Running-DSLR-Filmmaking/1053...

David


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