The presence and location of manual camcorder settings play an important role in video production.
No matter how casual your interest in video, there are times you'll want to assert dominance over your camcorder by overriding some automatic setting. To do that, you have to know your basic controls and how to use them. In the misty dawn of the home video era (15 years ago), almost all these controls were buttons (or switches or sliders or rocker arms), so we still speak of camcorder "buttons" for convenience, though all too many manual controls are now buried in the branches of screen menu trees. So, unless you've memorized your entire owner's manual (a little humor there), come with us now on a pulse-quickening tour of camcorder controls.
Briefly, you want to be able to control the white balance, the exposure system, the lens, the viewfinder(s) and the electronic accessories or at least know how to do so should the need ever arise.
The white balance control matches the colors you record to the overall tint of the light in which you're shooting (outdoors: bluish; indoors: orangish; fluorescents: don't ask).
In most cases, the auto white-balance setting works well. In mixed-light settings (e.g. window daylight and ceiling fluorescents), you may want to switch between outdoor and fluorescent presets to see which looks more neutral. Today, some fluorescent tubes are even closer to the indoor white balance preset.
If you want to go pro, the manual white balance setting offers the closest match to your shooting light.
Your camcorder defaults to auto exposure (see the Defaults of de Camera sidebar), opening and closing a hole called the iris with changing light levels to deliver the right amount of illumination to the imaging chip.
The most common reason for adjusting exposure is to compensate for excess backlight that overwhelms the auto-exposure system and turns your foreground subject into a silhouette. You can do this in three different ways:
Start Your FREE Trial Plus Membership To View This Article
Why Become a Plus Member?
As a Plus Member, you'll enjoy:
- Exclusive access to 1,000s of articles, tips, and videos
- Unlimited access to Videomaker Tips & Tricks video series
- Special contests and monthly drawings
- Members only eLetters
- Early online access to the current issue of Videomaker Magazine
- Members only discounts on Videomaker merchandise and more
- Priority status at Videomaker events
- The Expert Hotline: direct email access to our editors. Get answers to questions about any video subject