HOW TO SHOOT VIDEO WITH A NIKON DSLR

I use a Nikon D5300 for shooting stills & video of locations, setups, rough concepts, storyboards, happy snaps, etc.

It’s small and light, and it delivers the highest quality video image of any APS-C camera.

But because it’s a DSLR, not a dedicated video camera, it takes a little extra concentration when shooting video.

For a start, the camera has to be in Live View mode (that’s when you use the rear LCD screen as a viewfinder) when shooting video.

And (a Nikon quirk) you have to temporarily switch out of Live View to adjust the aperture.

Now, there’s a ton of information online about how to shoot video with these cameras. But a lot of it is technical, complicated, and sometimes plain wrong.

Here’s the simplest way to get professional video results from a low to mid-range Nikon DSLR:

Stay Away from Nikon’s Manual Movie Setting

Nikon has added a Manual Movie setting to make shooting video easier. It doesn’t.

  • It imposes a minimum shutter speed of 1/30sec
  • It switches off Auto ISO
  • It disables the Aperture indicator

Nikon was having a major ‘Doh!’ moment when it decided on these settings because:

  • 1/30th sec. is a crap shutter speed for video. It should be half the frame rate: 1/60th sec. for 30fps, and 1/50th sec. for 24 and 25 fps
  • Auto ISO adjusts the ISO to automatically compensate for changing light levels. Switching it off means you have to manually adjust the aperture instead. But the Nikon quirk means you can’t change the aperture while the camera is in Live View (video) mode
  • With the Aperture indicator disabled, you can’t adjust the aperture quickly by pre-adjusting the aperture in Live View and then rapidly switching out and back in to Live View

So, for shooting video, you need to turn Manual movie settings to OFF. Then you can select the correct shutter speed for your video frame rate, and allow Nikon’s superb Auto ISO to smoothly and silently adjust for changing light levels while you shoot.

Here’s how I set up my D5300 for shooting video:

  1. Set Mode Dial to M (Manual mode)
  2. Set Shutter to 1/50th sec. (for 25fps video)
  3. Set Aperture to f5.6 (a good starting point for most lenses)
  4. In the Shooting Menu:
    • In ISO sensitivity settings:
      • Set ISO sensitivity to 100
      • Set Auto ISO sensitivity control to ON
      • Set Maximum sensitivity to 1600
      • Set Minimum shutter speed to 1/50th sec.
    • In Movie settings:
      • Set Manual movie settings to OFF

Now your Nikon D3000/5000 series camera is set up to shoot video at 25fps, with the correct shutter speed for the frame rate, and with a starting aperture of f5.6.

To compensate for changing light, the ISO will adjust automatically between 100 and 1600 ASA.

We set an upper ISO limit of 1600 because, above this level, low-light footage shows obvious sensor noise.

If and when Auto ISO approaches the 1600 limit, stay in Live View mode and:

  1. Open up the aperture (say, to f3.5)
  2. Snap off a still shot (which forces the aperture mechanism in the lens to change to the new aperture setting)
  3. Continue filming

Simple. And you didn’t have to toggle out of and back in to Live View mode.

And one other thing. For general use, fit a decent zoom lens so you can find and frame your shots quickly.

I use a Nikkor AF-S DX 18-140mm VR lens.

It’s Nikon’s sharpest DX zoom lens, is stabilised, and offers a useful wide-end zoom range.

50
  1. I have a D5000 and after reading the Nikon Manual’s advice on setting the camera up for video shooting, I was so confused that I gave up trying.
    I found your article to be sensible and easy to follow.
    I have now hand written your instructions, will now type it up – give my tired old 90 years old brain a chance to cool down. And when I fell brave enough I will see if I can get the camera to shoot video.
    Would it be possible for you to set up a printing option for your very good advice?
    Well done, that man!
    Kevin McCauley

  2. Hi Kevin
    Try this with your Nikon D5000:

    1. Set the Mode dial (on the top of the camera) to AUTO
    2. Switch on Live View (press LV button on back of camera)
    3. Aim at subject or scene and HALF PRESS the shutter button to focus
    4. Then press the OK button (on back of camera) to start recording video
    On top left of the screen a red dot labeled ‘REC’ will blink to indicate your camera is now recording video.
    5. Press the OK button again to stop recording.

    The D5000 will record for up to 5 minutes of video at a time. Sometimes the camera’s sensor will overheat and you’ll have to wait for it to cool down before resuming recording. Also, start videoing with a freshly formatted SD card to avoid recording errors.
    Let me know if you have any other problems.

  3. I have a a Nikon D5300, which i use for streaming. I know it’s not the best for that, considering i am unable to turn of o the auto-shutdown! Your instructions are really clear, however any settings that i try i consistently get a laggy output to my pc… The image looks fine, auto focus is set correctly – yet i find my images freezing for a split second.

    Do you know what might be causeing this, or is there more specific settings for this I am missing?

    • Are you using ‘live preview’ instead of ‘live streaming’?

      ‘Live preview’ sends a copy of your Live View screen, via USB cable, to your computer so you can see it on your computer monitor. It’s laggy because it’s not supposed to stream video, it’s just an aid to composing your shot on a bigger monitor.

      ‘Live streaming’ on the other hand, transmits video & audio streams, via HDMI, from your D5300 to a display, a capture device, or a conversion device. The device has to have an HDMI-in port (like on an LCD TV).

      For streaming video, you connect a conversion device ($10 to $110 on Amazon) via HDMI to your camera. Then connect the device to your computer via USB (pref. USB3). The device delivers an audio/video stream to whatever app you’re using to stream.

      David Coleman explains it in detail here: https://havecamerawilltravel.com/photographer/nikon-d5300-webcam-live-video-streaming/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.