In this tutorial I go over the basics of setting up your Nikon D3s for recording movies.
Before you can make choices about your movie recordings you need to configure the camera first. Beyond the configuration of your camera there is another world that awaits you regarding composition, story telling, audio recording and engineering, video editing, camera operation, post-production effects and so on. It can be an all consuming beast that can take every spare dollar you have and as addictive as anything else on Earth. With that being said, you are probably reading this article because you have chosen to purchase a Nikon D3s. This is truly a beautiful piece of equipment and engineering like no other. You will no doubt enjoy this camera and you will amazed at its capabilities, especially in low light situations where it truly shines.
Step 0 – Configuration
Press Menu button and highlight movie settings in the shooting menu:
To choose the frame size, highlight quality and press the right arrow to select 1280×720 for HD:
To turn on the built-in mic on or off or to adjust sensitivity highlight Microphone in the menu and press right arrow.
To use an external mic simply plug it in and adjust as desired.
Memory Card Options
To save the movie files to one slot vs another just highlight Destination and make the selection.
High Sensitivity Options
To adjust ISO sensitivity settings to current scene conditions (low light) highlight High-Sensitivity Movie Mode and press the right arrow.
On indicates ISO sensitivity from 6400 to Hi3
Off indicates ISO sensitivity from 200 to 12,800
ISO Hi 0.3 – 3.0
The settings Hi 0.3 through Hi 3 correspond to ISO sensitivities 0.3–3 EV over ISO 12800 (ISO16,000–102,400 equivalent). Pictures taken at these settings are more likely to be subject to noise (randomly-spaced bright pixels, fog, or lines).
ISO Lo 0.3 – 3.0
The settings Lo 0.3 through Lo 1 correspond to ISO sensitivities 0.3–1 EV below ISO 200 (ISO 160–100 equivalent). Use for larger apertures when lighting is bright. Contrast is slightly higher than normal; in most cases, ISO sensitivities of ISO 200 or above are recommended.
Step 1 – Scene Setup
First you need to decide whether you will be shooting on a tripod or hand-held. Evaluate the lighting and exposure requirements for the scene.
Press Menu and select shooting menu:
- Select Live View mode
- Highlight an option (Tripod or Handheld) and select OK
- Tripod – Movies record at f/stop set in A or M modes
- Hand-held – Camera adjusts aperture based on scene exposure
Matrix metering is used regardless of the metering method selected. The camera adjusts shutter speed and ISO sensitivity automatically.
Step 2 – Live View
Press the Live View button.
The mirror is raised and the view through the lens is displayed in the monitor instead of the viewfinder.
Shutter speed and sensitivity are displayed in live view and during recording, but do not always apply to movies.
In Tripod mode, an exposure preview can be displayed in live view or during recording by pressing OK.
Step 3 – Focus
Focus before starting recording (use magnify if necessary)
Frame the opening shot to the desired focal length.
Tripod Mode – press the AF-ON button to auto-focus.
Hand-held Mode – press the shutter – release button halfway to focus on your subject.
In hand-held mode, autofocus is not available after recording begins.
Step 4 – Recording
Press the Pv button (on front of camera on right side below shutter) or the center of the multi-selector to start recording. Use your middle finger for Pv button and index for shutter release.
The *REC icon blinks and the time available is displayed in the monitor in the upper left corner.
The D3s camera records the movie files in .AVI format. You will need to transcode your movie files in order to be able to edit in Final Cut. I will include that information below.
Exposure can be altered by up to ±3 EV using exposure compensation; However changes to exposure, including AE lock and exposure compensation, can only be made during exposure preview
Lock exposure with the dial next to the selector. It has a dot and an L on it. Frame up your scene, focus and then lock your exposure if desired.
To change exposure compensation, you do it the same way as you do for photos. The EV compensation button is next to the shutter release. Press and hold it and dial in up to 3 steps, plus or minus, with your thumb on the dial on top right back of the camera.
Focus During Recording:
Tripod Mode = AF-ON to Focus
To focus in tripod mode using contrast-detect autofocus, press the AF-ON button.
Hand-held Mode = Manual Focus
Autofocus is not available in hand-held mode after recording begins; use manual focus to focus during recording
Note that in hand-held mode, recording will end if the shutter-release button is pressed halfway or the AF-ON button is pressed
Individual movie files can be up to 2 GB in size. The maximum length is 5 minutes for movies with a frame size of 1280 × 720 (720p HD).
Step 5 – End Recording
Press PV or center selector buttons again to stop recording
To end recording and take a still picture in live view, press the shutter-release button all the way down
It is possible to perform some edit functions on the camera but I would not recommend this so I won’t include any notes on how to do that. Refer to the user manual if you want to pursue that functionality.
© Tim Layton – All Rights Reserved – 2010. You may not republish or use this information in part or in whole without written permission. For permission and more information you can contact Tim Layton on the web at blog.timlaytonphotography.com or via email at email@example.com or via the telephone at 314-643-8118.