Top 5 Beginner Tips for Vlogging with a DSLR Camera [VIDEO]

While attending Vidcon this weekend, I caught up with my friend Austin Evans who is a tech reviewer on YouTube. He helped me with this Savvy Tuesday episode to talk about some of the basic things you need to know if you want to upgrade to a more professional camera for recording videos, specifically a DSLR model.

So learn along with me as Austin shows us how to get started with a DSLR quickly and easily.

Top 5 Beginner Tips for Vlogging with a DSLR Camera

1. Preparing Your Manual Settings

The best way to get great footage from your DSLR is to know your manual settings and get them where they need to be. Auto isn’t going to be a good way to get the best result, so avoid that. The three most important settings are aperture, shutter speed and ISO.

Aperture is just how much light is coming in through the lens. You may find you want to open and close this setting but generally speaking you should leave it all the way open. On the camera in the video, this setting is 4.

Shutter speed is how long the camera’s shutter is open; it’s exposure time. It’s easiest to just have this set on 1/60th of a second for optimum footage and the adjust as you like when you learn more about what it will do for your videos.

ISO is essentially a way to brighten up your picture. Once you get too high it’s not going to look very good so usually the lower the ISO the better, but don’t be afraid to push it depending on your atmosphere. ISO 1600 is usually a good setting, but if you can get it lower that’s great too.

2. Learning How To Manual Focus

The lens of your camera is a very important element of how your footage will appear. Like said in the previous section , it’s not ideal to set your camera to auto, so getting your camera in place and moving the dials on the lens to get your subject in just the right focus will just take some testing on your part.

3. Understanding Your Audio Options

With a great camera means having great audio. The built-in mic on DSLR’s are just for the sake of having audio. They aren’t ideal for the best product for your footage. One great go-to mic that we also used in this video is the Rode Video Mic. It picks up sound very clearly, especially hear where we were a couple feet away from the camera.

4. Adjusting Your Lens Options

Your camera does come with a kit lens if you purchase it that way. This is a great starter lens, but usually you’ll want to step up to higher end glass for a more beautiful product. Austin says that the go-to lens you really need in your bag is the 50 mm 1.8. It has a very wide aperture which let’s in a lot of light which makes it great for filming in dark places. It also has great depth of field which is awesome if you like the blown out background look.

5. Getting the Right Lighting

Now that you have a great camera, you want to make sure you have the lighting that will help it be at it’s best when you’re filming. But don’t worry because it doesn’t mean you have to run out and buy even more gear. Natural sunlight, both outside or near a window in your home/office, is a great way to get optimum lighting for your subject. You could even use a place in your home like the kitchen where there are a lot of lights present. Try to avoid orange lamps, like ones we often seen with ceiling fans, because it will make the subject be offset in their natural color. You can also use LED panels like I do to level out my lighting options or even check out Amazon for some lightboxes if you really want to buy the ideal setup.

What do you think? Will you start using a DSLR if learner’s curve is subsided?

Make sure you check out Austin’s YouTube channel for all your tech review needs.


  1. I purchased a Canon T4i recently, but that doesn’t mean I know much about manual settings. These tips kind of made my head spin but were super helpful. I’m glad I invested in the nifty-fifty lens since it seems like everyone recommends this one. Now I just need to really sit down and focus on each of the three manual settings to get to know them better!

      1. schmittastic i’m loving it for my blog photography, even though i haven’t even played around with manual settings too much. It’s just really freeing to be able to choose the focus point in the depth of field for what i typically photograph. I have not, unfortunately, tried it for video!

  2. Robert Seth

    Hey Amy, I agree with Austin.  DSLR’s are great and make incredible video.  I use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II.  You should just go get one and play with it.  I’m sure you’d catch on fast and you be making even more amazing video than you already are…and that’s saying a lot cuz you make some pretty amazing videos!

    1. Robert Seth Thanks Robert! That’s so nice of you to say. I know my videos could be even better with a DSLR which is why I was so excited to make this video. Especially filming it with a DSLR so i can see how much nicer it looks. I’m shopping around now! Really appreciate you stopping by to comment 🙂

  3. MikeForgie

    I absolutely love my Canon 60D. It has more than paid for itself. I highly suggest for lighting you get one of the LED lights from Amazon that are like $60. I have one and it is awesome. Also, I hate using the flash for photography so the adjustable LED works well. You can get a Y bracket for the hot shoe and attach both a directional mic and the light.

    1. MikeForgie I actually do have the light and bracket. It has been so helpful with my current camera. Glad to hear you like the 60D. I’m looking at that and the T4i.

  4. RobbyRoy

    Hey Amy,

    What your thoughts on the following, I am thinking of using a GoPro hero 3 to record some of my action footage I shoot with my dogs for training. I also want a video camera to shoot some close up videos of myself where I talk about a review or maybe shoot a quick little how to video. Have you ever shot with a Go pro before? I can get a mic for it for better sound on the close up stuff and the GP 3 is wireless, you can download an App and view the live screen shot from your phone. I’m just curious if it will give a good enough video/sound feed for viewers. Any thoughts?

  5. RobbyRoy I haven’t used them but they are phenomenal cameras. Definitely get another microphone if the one built in isn’t ideal. But the footage should be gorgeous even if you just used it for b roll and used another audio source throughout the end project.

  6. sipandom

    I really enjoyed this video — great info! I have a Canon Rebel Ti5. It has a loud buzzing noise when I use a clip on Audio Technica mic. that I can’t seem to get rid of. Do you have  any suggestions for that? Thanks so much!

  7. Dennis

    Hi there,

    Really hope to get a response from this, is there a way of setting up a 60d to auto face follow focus just like a g7x for example for vlogging? Please reply, many thanks.

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