When you want to shoot a professional-looking video, gear isn’t essential, but we can’t deny that pro gear sure can come in handy. However, if you only have an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless camera, don’t let it discourage you from creating. In this video from Mark Bone, you’ll learn a few tricks on how to turn even a cheap camera into a tool for creating cinematic videos.
Mark notes that there are three things to have in mind if you want to make your footage look more cinematic: dynamic range, the choice of lens and camera movement. So let’s take a deeper look into them and how you can use them to your advantage.
Put simply, dynamic range is the tonal range between the brightest and the darkest parts of your image. Cameras with high dynamic range will expose the highlights without blowing them out and shadows without burning them in the same video or image.
However, entry-level DSLRs and mirrorless cameras don’t have a dynamic range as high as professional video cameras. If you shoot using only natural light, this can get especially tricky. So, Mark suggests that you, above all, try to avoid shooting in direct sunlight. He recommends shooting in situations where you can get soft, ambient light: at sunset outdoors, or near large windows indoors.
As a bonus tip, Mark advises you to expose for what you want to get in the final color grade. For example, if you want the movie to be dark and moody, create it dark and moody in-camera and then give it the final look with color grading.
When you buy an entry-level interchangeable lens camera, it usually comes with a kit lens. These standard zoom lenses aren’t really cine-friendly, so to say. But, the solution is simpler and cheaper than you might think: buy old lenses. As Mark puts it, they hold “a more filmic vibe.” They have a unique flare, smooth bokeh, and some of them even have quite crazy bokeh. There are great vintage lenses for under $100, and try some of these if you need them for filmmaking.
Proper camera movement can add a lot to the story of your movie. Yes, you can buy a gimbal, but Mark suggests something cheaper, yet helpful: get a top handle. If you’re shooting handheld, it will make your camera movement much smoother, and top handles can be as cheap as $15.
Do you have any tips and tricks for getting cinematic shots on the cheap? We’d love to hear your suggestions.