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How to Calibrate DSLR Video Cameras

Oftentimes you'll find yourself using more than one camera body while shooting footage. This may be to get an extra angle or to avoid having to change lenses in the field. The closer your camera settings the match, the more seamless it will appear when you edit the different footage together. Ideally the acquired footage will match as closely as possible. This means that you to adjust both the aesthetic and technical properties.

Aesthetic Matching

Look inside the camera and check your menu settings. You'll typically find several options that will aesthetic properties of the footage. Ideally, you'll closely match these settings across multiple cameras:
  • Color settings – Use the same color space for each camera if it's a choice.
  • Picture Style – Many cameras offer different modes that stylize the footage. We recommend shooting flat and adjusting your color with Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects after the shoot for greater flexibility.
  • Shutter speed – Your shutter speed should typically be 1/60 if shooting 30 fps or 1/50 if shooting 24 fps. You can alter this number for different looks, but be sure the cameras all match.

Technical Matching

You’ll also want to check several technical properties for each camera. Be sure to identically match the following properties across each camera:
  • Frame size – Your frame sizes must match. Be sure that you aren’t mixing 720p with 1080p.
  • Frame rate – All your cameras must match frame rate (exactly). Be sure to check that you have a precise match. Make sure the firmware of your cameras is also up to date.
  • Color calibration – Be sure that all angles color calibrate at the same time, on the same subject, under identical lighting conditions. Otherwise, you’ll have a lot more postproduction work.

For more on the fusion of photography and video, check out From Still to Motion.

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