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The Parts of a Digital Video Camera


Digital video cameras have a built-in automatic focus feature, and most of them are pretty good. ... ways to shoot still images with a digital video camera: ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Parts of a Digital Video Camera

The Parts of a Digital Video Camera By David
Batteries The first thing you'll need to do is
put a battery in the camera. The newer batteries
are called lithium-ion batteries that hold a
longer charge. On most cameras the battery is
inserted into a slot in the rear of the camera by
pressing down on a tiny release button and then
sliding the battery into the slots or rails (a
battery usually has an arrow on the top so you'll
know which end to slide in).                    
                   You'll usually also have to
push open the viewfinder on top of the camera to
make room for the battery to be inserted. To
remove the battery, click on the release button
and slide the battery upward and out of the
MiniDV Tapes Most cameras have a compartment on
the side that you can open up and then insert a
mini-DV tape. There's usually a release button to
push, and the cassette compartment will then
slowly pop out. When the compartment is
completely open, insert the mini-DV tape into the
compartment, with the window on the tape facing
out and the red end with the arrow pointing
down. Then close the compartment by gently
pushing it back in. Mini-DV tapes are usually
good for about an hour of recording (you can set
the camera to long-playing mode to double the
recording time, but we don't recommend it as that
decreases the quality of the video. Once you've
recorded some video on a tape and you don't plan
to record anything more on it, you can lock the
tape to avoid recording over it. To do that look
for the tiny white tab on the side of the tape
and slide it over to lock.
Power Button to Record On most cameras there's a
power dial button - usually on the back of the
camera - that you use to select Camera - to
record video VTR - to playback video you've
already recorded, or to capture it into a
computer using video editing software. When you
set the camera to VTR a display should light up
on the top of the camera with touch-screen
buttons you can push to rewind, fast-forward,
play and stop the tape. Off - to turn the camera
off and preserve your battery To start
recording, you first turn the power dial to the
Camera setting. (this is when you can make any of
the focus or exposure adjustments we'll be
discussing later) Then press and hold down the
red record button, usually on or near the power
switch, to begin recording.
Viewing You can view what you're recording in two
ways Viewfinder lens - which is on the top of
the camera and can be pulled up and out from its
compartment. LCD screen - which is on the side
of the camera and can be pulled out. To do that
you'll usually push an Open button to release the
LCD screen. The LCD screen can then be
rotated for better viewing. Note pulling out the
LCD screen will deactivate the viewfinder, so you
must use one or the other. The only exception is
if you rotate the LCD screen 180 degrees so it is
facing toward the front of the camera, in which
case the viewfinder may be reactivated for
Zooming Most digital video cameras have a rocker
switch button you can press to zoom in for a
close up shot or zoom out for a wide-angle view.
On the TRV900 and PD150, the rocker switch zoom
button is on the top back of the camera on the
right. Press on the end marked T (for telephoto)
to zoom in, or on the end marked W (for wide
angle) to zoom out. Experiment with the zoom
button before you start filming. Depending on the
camera, you can usually zoom in and out with
varying speeds, and this takes a little practice!
  • Focusing
  • Digital video cameras have a built-in automatic
    focus feature, and most of them are pretty good.
    Although you can get away with doing the vast
    majority of your shooing with just auto focus, it
    is good to learn how to focus the camera
    manually. (If your career plans include being a
    cameraperson on documentary or feature films,
    manual focus is the industry standard!)
  • Manual focus is good to use when
  • You are shooting extremely busy or cluttered
  • You are pointing at an object in the foreground
    and you really want the background in sharp focus
    with the foreground object somewhat blurred.
    Since the auto focus will keep the foreground
    image in focus, you'll need to switch to manual
    focus for a shot like this.
  • To switch to manual focus, look for the focus
    button and switch it from Auto to Manual. Then
    adjust the focus by turning the silver focus ring
    on the lens on the front of the camera.

To return to auto focus, just slide the focus
switch back from Manual to Auto. There is often a
third option for the focus button - Infinity. Use
that setting to set the focus for a distant
background shot, such as of a landscape, or for
shooting through glass or wire mesh windows, when
the camera will want to focus on the wire or
glass. Tip - if you decide to use the manual
focus and you're also planning to zoom in and out
of a shot, start by zooming all the way in on the
main subject of your shot. Then set the manual
focus for that view and zoom back out to begin.
You will then be able to zoom in and out and your
picture will remain in focus at every point
between the close-up of your subject and a
wide-angle shot. Don't start by zooming all the
way out in a wide-angle shot, and using that to
set the focus on your subject. This will make the
picture blurry when you zoom in.
Exposure and Light Digital video cameras have
built-in automatic exposure, or iris, which is
pretty good for most purposes. You usually can
just depend on the auto exposure to give you the
best lighting (although just as with manual
focus, if your career dream is to be a
professional cameraperson, its in your best
interest to learn how to do manual
exposure). Exceptions to just using auto exposure
would be if there's very little light and you
need to open up the iris on the camera to let in
the maximum amount of light, or if the background
is too bright (called back lighting), and you
need to close the iris to reduce the amount of
light. To manually adjust the exposures, look for
the exposure switch button, which usually has
three settings Auto - for automatic exposure
Manual - to adjust the exposure manually Hold -
to hold the manual adjustment you've made while
you shoot your video Set the button to manual.
White Balance White balance has to do with
differences in color caused by the intensity of
the light and how the camera compensates for
these differences in color. Sunlight is rarely
pure white, but rather takes on different shades,
such as a yellow or red tinge at sunrise and
sunset, or a blue tinge in a shaded area. Digital
video cameras come with an automatic white
balance meter that essentially tells the camera
which color of white is in the picture, and the
rest of the colors in the spectrum are adjusted
accordingly to make the video look as natural as
possible. But there are cases where a video
camera may misconstrue the level of the lighting
because it is measuring the general intensity of
the lighting it sees through the lens rather than
the intensity of the light at the location of the
subject of your shot. The result is either a blue
or orange tone that makes your entire video
tinted the wrong color.
For example, if your camera is in bright light,
but the subject of your shot is in the shade, the
camera will be reading the light as more yellow
in tone, because the camera is in yellowish
sunlight. The subject of your shot thus will come
out looking slightly blue, because they are
actually lit by blue shade light. To fix this
problem, you should hold up a piece of white
paper right next to the subject of your shot, and
then zoom the camera in on that white paper. Then
push or select the white balance button on your
camera to set the proper white balance. The
camera essentially is forced to look at a true
white color, and then balance the rest of the
color spectrum around that true white that it
On the TRV900 and PD150 the white balance is
adjusted by sliding the Auto Lock switch on the
back of the camera to the middle setting, just
like for adjusting exposure. Then press the Wht
Bal button on the very back of the camera. Below
the Wht Bal button is a little control dial you
can use to toggle through three settings Manual
(icon with a tiny black square in the middle),
Outdoor (sunlight) and Indoor (light bulb). To
use the Manual adjustment, toggle to the Manual
icon, aim the camera at a piece of white paper
that is in the area you're going to shoot and
press the control dial. The white balance then
will be locked at this setting until you return
the Auto Lock switch to Auto Lock.
Shooting Still Images There are several ways to
shoot still images with a digital video
camera Some cameras allow you to plug in a
"memory stick" to record still images. In this
case, your power button usually has a memory
setting you select to record the images onto the
card. Then you push a button on the camera that
just records a single image of what you're
viewing, like a regular camera. You can also use
the still image button without a memory stick to
shoot still pictures and capture them onto your
mini-DV tape. On the Sony TRV900, the still image
button is on the rear right of the camera and is
labeled Photo. Or you can just shoot
continuous video and later use a video-editing
program to grab just a single still image or
frame from the video.
Camera Menu Items Video cameras have menus for
adjusting settings on the camera. Usually you can
access this by opening the LCD screen. On the
side of the camera you'll see a button labeled
Menu. The choices then are displayed on the LCD
screen.   Here are some standard menu settings
that you should check/set before
shooting Record mode - set it to SP, rather
than LP. LP stands for long-playing and will make
a 1-hour mini-DV tape into a 2-hour tape, but
you'll lose video quality. Audio mode - set it
to 16 bit. That's the standard for audio to
stream on a Web page. Mic level - set it to
auto. Steady shot - leave this on. This setting
tries to compensate for the jiggling of a camera.
You can recharge your camera battery using the
video camera and a power adaptor. Or you can
purchase a separate battery charger, which is
recommended. To charge a battery using the
camera, insert the battery into the camera as you
normally would for shooting video. Then plug the
end of one cord from the power adaptor into the
camera. Plug the end of the other cord from the
adaptor into a regular AC outlet. Leave the
camera's power switch in the OFF position. The
battery will charge. On most cameras there's a
tiny display window where you can check the
progress of the charging, both in minutes of
battery life now available and with a bar that
shows how much the battery has recharged. On the
Sony TRV900 the display window is on the left top
of the camera.
Rather than using the camera to recharge your
battery, you can buy a separate battery charger
that plugs into an AC outlet. We recommend
getting a charger because it saves wear and tear
on the camera and allows you to charge one
battery while you're out shooting with a second
battery. Chargers often have a display window
that tells you the remaining battery life in
hours and minutes, which makes it much quicker to
find out what's left in your battery.
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