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Shooting a Christmas light show video with a Canon 60D, brightness overpowering

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
I realize I don't have the right equipment for the shot. But it's what I'm working with. I got a Canon 60D with the 50mm 1:1.8 lens, I think it's the kit lens. I also have a zoom lens but that is of no value here.

What I'm trying to do is film a Christmas light show. It's similar to this, actually this is the show from last year recorded on a phone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=364_QLWS4bg

The problem I'm having with shooting video with the DSLR is the lights get so bright they are overpowering. The huge star shown in the video is all one lump of light. Intensity variances in the light can't be seen when they're next to a brighter light drowning it out. It doesn't look close to what we see in person.

I know there's all kinds of specific lenses, filters, and camcorders better equipped to make this the "perfect" shot. I'm not going to spend money on equipment only for this video though. (At least not more than like...25.00.) I don't need the perfect shot. I just want the lights to be clearly defined like the video shown, but with the higher quality video I'm seeing with the 60D. Is there any way to do this? Any quick tips?

I don't see any settings I can change in the video mode besides focus, resolution, and FPS. I have tried two different editing softwares...apparently there is no way to adjust this blur down on a video. (Or maybe I'm wrong? I've been through all the settings on Pinnacle Video.)

Maybe if I shoot it when it's dusk I would see better results? I'm not understanding what's even causing the problem. Is the camera adjusting for brightness on the fly and can't keep up with the quick changes? Is it picking up a lot more light than the phone did and so the lights are SO bright that it shines like the sun? What's going on here exactly, and what's a workaround to use my equipment to get this video?

Thanks in advance.

Stinger
Phoenix
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Phoenix
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post #2 of 4
You dont need special lenses or filters. Filters will probably result in worse lenses flares.

Take the camera off auto exposure and focus. Put it on a tripod. And use the back of the lcd to get the exposure you want. Obviously you want a little but of a happy medium so that you can see the lights but that you can also see the surrounding area. So it is perfectly ok, because the lights vary in brightness throughout the show if the exposure on parts goes over briefly. If you need a more detailed explanation let me know. I posted this from my phone wink.gif
    
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post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
I found the settings I was missing. I'm going to try the shoot again using an ISO 100, shutter speed of 60, and adjust the aperture down from 22 until I get the right light. I tested the settings using a cfl bulb in the house, so I'm hoping this is something close to what I should be shooting at. I don't think flicker is an issue with christmas lights, but I'm setting the shutter to 60 just to be sure.

What about color balance? Is automatic a bad idea since there are so many quick on/offs and different colors? Is there a recommended temperature for this kind of shoot?
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post #4 of 4
your shutter speed should be always at 1/60 anyway. if you are shooting 1080p 30 fps or 24fps, then you should lock your shutter speed at 60 and adjust ISO and aperture to get your proper exposure. that will ensure the most natural looking movement in your video.

now if you are shooting in PAL mode and not NTSC, then you will set your shutter speed to 1/50

i would not use AWB because if you are shooting at night and shooting Christmas lights that are lots of different colors then you will not get the most natural colors. i would suggest setting your white balance to tungsten so that you are balanced for the lights themselves, assuming they are traditional lights and not something new or different like LED christmas lights. if you know what type of christmas lights they are then you can set a custom WB which is much more ideal as you can set it to what the lights actually are. you will usually not see any issue with light flicker unless you point your camera at an old computer CRT monitor or old fluorescent lights that have magnetic ballasts instead of a newer electronic ballast.

if you are shooting this at night from say the street to fit an entire house in the shot i doubt you will be able to get away with ISO 100 comfortably. dont be afraid to go higher iso, the 60D can handle over 100 wink.gif

i would suggest try starting at iso 320 that way you dont end up shooting with a wide aperture. for something like this you are going to want to be stopped down to get a nice clean focus throughout the frame primarily at the middle distance and background.

for reference the best ISO settings to use on your 60D in video mode are: 160, 320, 640, or 1250/1600. going past 1000 isnt ideal for everyone but honestly the noise is not that bad. i would rather have digital noise in my shot than an image that is not properly exposed and lost detail because of the lower latitude that the camera has to offer.
    
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