A lack of light can ruin your video images. Shooting the perfect low-light video can be a complicated task to master without having the right tips and tricks. Usually, the result is always grainy, undersaturated with low contrast, and somewhat blurry video images.
Luckily, we’ve found effective ways to shoot your videos in low light without losing quality. This article will cover how you can shoot video in the following situations:
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- Trying to add extra light
- use Darkness
- Use a larger aperture
- Reduce the number of frames per second
- Reduce shutter speed
1. Try to add extra light
If you have difficulty filming in the dark or poorly lit spaces, try moving your subject closer to the light available in your surroundings. Bringing your object as close to the extra light as possible will significantly improve the quality of your video.
If you don’t have any other light around, invest in a video camera light, this will do. A video camera light mounted on your camera will produce an acceptable amount of light on the subject you are trying to film.
People usually think of increasing the ISO when shooting in low light. While this is generally a good trick as it gradually increases the exposure of the footage, without any natural light being cast on the subject, the footage flattens out.
Increasing your video camera’s gain will add noise to shadows in your video footage, distracting viewers. Avoiding increasing the ISO is the best option if you have accessible and additional light.
Other options include:
- Turning on overhead lights or lamps.
- Use a reflector board or mirror to move and bounce light onto the subject.
- Purchasing a lighting kit.
2. Use Darkness
The second trick to increase quality when shooting in low light is to use the surrounding Darkness to your advantage. This means that the subject you’re shooting doesn’t always have to be in the center of focus in the shot.
The subject can still be seen as a silhouette when the atmosphere is enough to keep the audience interested in the clip. While adding extra light to the subject helps improve visibility and quality, you don’t need to use this trick every time you’re shooting in low light.
If the background or atmosphere surrounding the subject is aesthetically pleasing to the audience, sometimes it may be best to leave the focus on the landscape and keep the subject dark. Exposing the background and having the subject in total or partial Darkness still encourages viewers to see the subject from a different point of view and a different creative angle. Seeing the subject’s face, expressions or details will not affect the viewer’s attention.
3. Use a larger aperture
Depending on the video camera you are using to shoot, you can change the camera settings to improve video quality. If the video camera is equipped with an iris, set this parameter to the lowest possible number. An f-stop of 1.4 is fantastic. By lowering the number of camera f-stops, you get a larger aperture. The camera can capture more light by creating a larger aperture, creating a clearer image.
This is a great feature to be aware of when shooting in low light. Check if your camera’s aperture constantly changes when you zoom in on a lens. The more you zoom, the more the aperture will decrease, which will darken your video footage.
Keeping your camera’s zoom lens at a wide-angle allows you to let in more light than manually zooming the lens. If you want to shoot in low light without getting grainy, invisible footage, get close to the subject when you zoom in with the lens. Avoid using the camera zoom and physically get closer to the subject.
4. Reduce the number of frames per second
If your camera model allows it, try changing the number of frames per second. Usually, all cameras are set to 30fps, although 24fps captures sharper video in low light. The slower frame rate brings more light into the camera, helping to brighten up the video footage.
By disabling the shutter, you can change your frame rate to 1/24 instead of 1/30 of a second. This may seem like a slight decrease, but it will dramatically increase the brightness of your video footage.
Some cameras allow you to change your frame rate, even lower than 24 frames per second.
Some cameras can take 12 or even 6 frames per second when the shutter is off. However, this trick will only work if you’re shooting a landscape. It will not work to shoot a subject such as an animal or human movement.
5. Reduce shutter speed
The last technique we’ll talk about is controlling your camera’s shutter speed. Usually, your footage automatically clears up by slowing down your shutter speed. Slowing down the shutter speed makes the camera shutter open longer, giving more light to the camera.
Low-light video footage should be shot in 1/30th of a second, rather than the average video shutter speed of 1/60th. It may seem like a small change to your camera, but it makes a huge difference.
This allows the shutter to be open for twice as long as the original setting, twice the amount of light entering the camera. Low-light footage needs as much light as possible for the clip to be of sufficient quality. When using this technique, it is essential to understand that it increases your footage’s chances of motion blur.
However, we didn’t experience any issues with human movement with a shutter speed of 1/30th of a second. It may deteriorate when shooting larger objects or faster-moving animals.