Automation is nice. It lowers the barrier of entry to a lot of worthwhile but complex technology. Sometimes, however, it’s important to take control to get the exact outcome you want. There are situations when your camera’s automatic sensibilities just won’t cut it. Such situations demand you to take control of your camera’s functions. Here are some tips that can come in handy when you find yourself in such situations:

Manual Focus and Rack Focus: Your camera is struggling to focus on the subject of your shot. Manual control comes in handy by allowing you to add certain effects to your video. You can adjust the focus on the object of your choice. There are several manual focus techniques  are used by professional videographers, out of which the most common and perhaps the simplest technique is ‘rack focusing’.  Video camera operators use rack focusing to bring the foreground and background alternatively in and out of focus. They do this by setting the focus switch to ‘manual’ and then by adjusting the focusing ring on the lens to bring the subject into focus.  Rack focus can also be used to center the viewers’ attention within a given shot by focusing on different objects successively, each time blurring the other parts of the shot.

Manual Iris: The iris in your eye is a muscle that controls the amount of light entering, thus allowing you to see properly. Similarly, your video camera’s iris control mimics this operation. There are times when you may have to edit your camera’s iris settings manually to let more light enter the camera. You can adjust the iris settings manually to make your subject look better even when the lighting conditions are not ambient.  If you are shooting at a high shutter speed, you will get darker videos. You can try opening the iris to compensate for decreased brightness of your video.

Camera Shutter Speed: Camera shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second and is basically the length of time the camera lens is exposed to the light. While shutter speed is particularly an important factor of consideration in the photography industry, in the video industry, higher shutter speeds make individual frames appear sharper and helps in avoiding motion blurs. But be careful as high shutter speeds may give the impression of jerky camera movements. Choose the shutter speed that suits your video.

Manual White Balance: White balance is basically a function that tells your camera what ‘true’ white is. Most cameras automatically check for white balance before they start recording, but this cannot be always trusted. Professional videographers generally recommend re-adjusting the white balance with change in lighting conditions. So the next time you start recording, first set the white balance mode to manual and focus on an actual white object and let your camera learn what you mean by ‘true’ white. This will help in recording videos with the right color balance.

Hope that these tips were useful in getting started with your camera’s manual settings and helped you get your videos right. Happy recording!