Shooting video with the Nikon D3200

The Nikon D3200 is a terrific camera for shooting video but, unlike traditional video cameras, you’ll need to become acquainted with its manual settings if you want to achieve terrific results. In this tutorial, I’m going to take you through the basics of capturing great video with the D3200.

Getting started

Choosing lenses. The advantage of using a DSLR is that you can attach different lenses. Focal length is measured in millimetres. The lower the focal length, the wider the shot. A zoom lens allows you to change the focal length, zooming in or out. Versatility is the main reason for using a zoom lens. You can go from wide angle to telephoto simply by twisting the lens. Prime lenses are fixed but usually have a larger aperture which means they’re more suited to low light conditions. Your choice of lens depends on what you’re shooting. Landscapes, for example, look better with wide angle lenses. If I’m shooting indoors, I like to use a prime lens, like the 50mm f1.8, because the low aperture works better in low light.

Changing lenses. The D3200 comes with a stock 18-55mm zoom lens. To change the lens, ensure the camera is pointing down to avoid any dust landing on the mirror. Hold down the lens release button and turn the lens clockwise. Make sure you replace the end cap. To attach your other lens, line up the white dots on the camera body and lens, then turn counter clockwise.

Using manual mode. While the automatic settings on your camera are useful, you’ll get the best results shooting manually. To select Manual mode, turn the mode dial on the top of the camera to M. With the Nikon D3200, however, just setting the camera to manual isn’t enough. You also need to enable manual shooting mode. To do this, click on the ‘Menu’ button on back of the camera, go to Camera > Movie Settings > Manual Movie Mode > On.

Shooting video

If you’re going to capture terrific video with the Nikon D3200, you need to understand four important concepts: aperture, ISO, white balance and focus.

Aperture. The aperture is the opening in a lens that lets light into the camera. Aperture is measured using f- stops like f1.8, f5 or f22. The smaller the f-stop, the more light you allow into the camera. Changing the aperture also changes the depth of field. With the aperture set to f1.8, you’ll notice that there’s nice, shallow depth of field. With the aperture set to f22, you’ll notice that we can see much further into the background. Although shooting with very shallow depth of field will make your videos look cinematic, even the slightest movement will mean your subject is out of focus. To set the aperture on the Nikon D3200, hold down the aperture button on top of the camera and turn the command dial. You’ll notice the aperture changing on the camera’s LCD display. With the Nikon D3200, you cannot adjust the aperture in Live View.

ISO. Back in the days of film cameras, ISO referred to film speed. If you were shooting in daylight, for example, you might choose film with an ISO of 200. If you were shooting in low light conditions, you might choose a more sensitive film like ISO 1600. With a digital camera like the Nikon D3200, ISO refers to the sensitivity of the camera’s sensor. You will need to adjust the ISO of your camera depending on available light. Keep in mind, however, that the higher your ISO, the more grain or digital noise you’ll get in your image. In low light conditions, it’s much better to have your aperture as wide as possible with a low ISO. To change the ISO on the Nikon D3200, simply hold down the Function button on the front of the camera and turn the command dial.

White balance. White balance is used to ensure that your footage isn’t affected by the colour of your light source. If a shot is too yellow or too blue, chances are you’ve set the white balance incorrectly. The Nikon D3200 has a number of white balance presets, including: automatic, incandescent, fluorescentent, direct sunlight, flash, cloudy and shade. To choose one of these presets, place the cursor in the information display (i). Select the current white balance setting. Press OK. Select an option and press OK again. Press the Live View button to see how it affects the image. You can also set the white balance manually. To do this you’ll need a white piece of cardboard. Press the ‘Menu’ button on the side of the camera. Select the Shooting Menu > White Balance. Press the right arrow to select Preset Manual. If you’ve already taken a photograph of your white piece of cardboard, you can select that image by choosing Use Photo. Select ‘Measure’ and press OK. When asked to overwrite existing data, select yes and Press OK. Hold a piece of white cardboard in front of the camera so it fills the viewfinder and press the shutter button to measure the white balance.

Focus. When shooting video, the automatic focus on the Nikon D3200 isn’t that desirable. You’ll get more control by manually focusing. To manually focus using the 18-55mm stock lens, simply switch the button on the lens to Manual and adjust the focus ring until your subject is in focus. If you’re setting up a static shot, you can precisely adjust the focus using the Zoom In button on the back of the camera. In Live View, use the multi- selector to identify an area of your photograph that has a lot of detail, such as the subject’s eye. Press the Zoom In button to magnify that area. Turn the focus ring until your subject is perfectly in focus.

External microphone. The inbuilt microphone on the D3200 is pretty terrible. With most DSLRs, it’s a good idea to use an external mic. I’m a fan of the Rode VideoMic which comes with this shock mount that reduces any handling noise that you might get. First you’ll need to attach the shotgun microphone to the cold shoe. Make sure you screw it in tightly and plug the cable into the D3200’s microphone input. When you’re ready to shoot, there is a power switch on the back. Switch it to the on position, ensuring you don’t accidentally switch it to low cut, which will reduce low frequency sounds. This is useful if you’re shooting in windy conditions or want to reduce rumbling or pops. Always use a pair of headphones to monitor your audio but, if you’re in doubt, don’t use it. You can always perform a low cut in post production.

Rolling shutter. Like most DSLRs, the Nikon D3200 suffers from rolling shutter and panning quickly will skew the image. Although there are filters that enable you to reduce rolling shutter, it’s best to avoid panning that quickly in the first place. If you’re going to use the Nikon D3200 or any other DSLR camera for filmmaking be aware of its limitations.

Photograph (Cropped): Assillo