Did you just buy your first DSLR camera?

You might begin to feel intimidated by all of the features and settings if you were just used to pointing and shooting.

Each DSLR is different, therefore, each has their own way to adjust the settings and functions on the camera. However, all the settings we discuss have the same impact when you adjust them across all DSLR cameras.

DSLR Camera Beginner's Guide | Learn to Flourish

Tip 1- Set Camera to Manual Mode

The first thing that is important before moving forward is setting the camera to manual mode. In manual mode, you’ll be able to adjust the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to get the best picture possible. The automatic function adjusts it for you. However, the automatic function rarely uses the best possible settings for the environment you are filming in.


Tip 2- Adjust Frames Per Second

The first setting we’ll go over is frames per second. Videos are created by the camera taking several pictures (frames) very quickly and putting them together to make it look like it’s a moving picture. So frames per second is the amount of frames that the camera captures per second. 

Most television and film are shot at 24 frames per second. This is the frame rate that gives films a cinematic effect. Even if a film is shot at a higher frame rate while filming, they are converted and viewed at 24 frames per second. 

Most online videos or sporting programs are shot at 30 frames per second. This is because there is usually more motion involved in the video. Having an extra six frames helps improve the video quality if there is tons of movement while filming such as holding the camera while vlogging or people participating in sporting events. 

Filming at any frame rate higher than 30 frames per second is only necessary if you are filming a slow-motion scene. People often dislike watching videos with a higher frame rate because it takes them out of the video and it feels unnatural. Soap operas are an example of high frame rate content that often looks abnormally smooth. 

Be sure to adjust the frames per second to match with the appropriate project you are filming for.


Tip 3- Adjust Aperture

Now we’re going to move on to talking about aperture. Aperture is the act of the camera opening and closing the lens to allow more or less light into your image. It’s measured in f-stops and the lower the f-stop is, the more the lens opens allowing more light into the scene. Having a higher f-stop closes the lens, allowing less light into the picture. For example, when you are filming in at night it is important to have your aperture set to the lowest possible f-stop to allow as much light into the scene as possible. When you are filming during the day, you’ll want to adjust the aperture to a higher f-stop so the image isn’t washed out with light.

Adjusting the aperture also changes the depth of field for the image. A large depth of field means that the image will be in-focus if you are farther away from the object you are filming. A shallow depth of field is when one object is in focus and the other object is blurry. The lower f-stop you have, the shallower the depth of field will be. Whereas the higher f-stop you have, the larger your depth of field will be.

A large depth of field is best for landscape shots and a shallow depth of field is best for filming close up of objects.


Tip 4- Adjust Shutter Speed

The next thing you’re going to want to adjust on your camera is shutter speed. Shutter speed is the amount of exposure time that your camera gets when it records an image. The shutter allows light to hit the camera’s digital sensor to brighten up the image. It’s measured in fractions of a second and the lower you have your shutter speed, the brighter the image is. And the more you increase the shutter speed, the darker the image is. 

The best way to determine the proper setting for your shutter speed is to double the frame rate you are shooting on. For example, if you are shooting at 30 frames per second then your shutter speed should be set to 1/60.


Tip 5- Adjust ISO

The last thing you want to change in your camera is the ISO. The ISO is used to brighten up the image if you can’t already brighten it enough using an aperture and shutter speed. You always want to have it as low as possible because the higher you make your ISO, the more grainy the image will be. 

For filming outside on a sunny day, the ISO should be as low as possible since there is plenty of light. For indoor filming, it is recommending not to set your ISO above 800 or the image will be too grainy. If the image isn’t bright enough with the ISO at 800, try lowering your aperture or add additional lighting to your scene.



That concludes the basics of how to use a DSLR camera. Here’s a quick review of the key tips:

  • Film on manual mode
  • Set frames per second at 24 for film or television and 30 for online videos
  • Aperture allows the amount light into the image.
  • Large depth of field- everything is in focus
  • Shallow depth of field- one object is in focus
  • Shutter speed should be set to double the size of the frame rate
  • ISO shouldn’t be above 800


At Learn to Flourish we are all about creating relevant, engaging, and effective eLearning and videos. If you want to increase the quality of your educational videos, get our free training on how to make great demonstration videos for your audience.


For more tips on video and eLearning creation, check out our blog for more articles such as how to choose the best DSLR camera for beginners and how to create online education that people will love.

Wishing you inspiration, innovation, and continuous learning!

Lorena and the Learn to Flourish Team

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