HOW TO

How and Why to Use a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera for Your Video Production

OpenReel was designed for enterprise shoots, which means Capture works with enterprise-quality cameras. That’s right: DSLR and mirrorless cameras can be used for your next remote video production.

DSLR camera on tripod video production

With the right equipment — more on that below — both of these high-power cameras can be converted into webcams for remote video production. Because OpenReel will recognize a DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam, 1080p will be the highest resolution at which you can film. However, because these cameras have large image sensors, they capture superpixels, so the video quality will be better than or comparable to mobile devices.

Interested in filming your first video shoot with a DSLR or mirrorless camera? We have all the info you need to get started.

Setting up DSLR camera for video production

So, what are DSLR and mirrorless cameras anyway?

DSLRs and mirrorless cameras are both types of digital cameras, but they differ in how they allow the photographer to see their Subject. DSLRs have an internal mirror that reflects the light — and therefore the Subject — up to the optical viewfinder. When the photographer takes the photo, or, in our case, hits record, the mirror swings out of the way allowing the light to hit the digital image sensor and capture the Subject.


Mirrorless cameras — as the name suggests — do not have a mirror. Instead, the photographer sees their Subject through an electronic viewfinder and the light goes directly to the digital image sensor capturing exactly what is seen on that screen.

Why use a DSLR or mirrorless camera for your video production?

Both DSLR and mirrorless devices have larger image sensors than standard webcams or mobile devices, which means they can capture more data per pixel for better detail. That also means both types of camera will function better in low lighting.

 

Additionally, both DSLR and mirrorless cameras provide greater image control thanks to interchangeable lenses and more camera settings than a webcam or mobile device. For example, the Subject can manually set the shutter speed, ISO, and aperture on the camera, ensuring these settings will be in place for the shoot. For settings that Capture can also control, like frame rate and resolution, the Director will need to match the Capture settings to those manually set on the camera.


Another major benefit of DSLRs, in particular, is the ability to take advantage of interchangeable lenses, giving you more options for framing and production style. Recently, some manufacturers are making mirrorless cameras with lenses, as well, so this could be an option for your shoot, too.

 

What equipment do you need to use a DSLR or mirrorless camera with OpenReel Capture?

Besides a DSLR or mirrorless camera, the first piece of equipment you need is, of course, as a computer. We recommend your device has, at minimum, a quad-core 3Ghz or higher core processor and 8GB RAM.

 

Next, you will need a Video Capture Device. While vaguely named, this simple device converts the video signal from your camera into a digital feed for your computer, making it a powerful webcam. You will also need to install on your computer any software required by your video capture device.

 

If necessary, you will also require compatible cables and adapters to connect your camera, computer, and video capture device, but many of the latter come with these included.
If you already have a DSLR or mirrorless camera to power your video production, you can look into video capture devices and cables that are specifically compatible with that camera and your computer. If you are purchasing all equipment for the first time, look for devices that are compatible with your computer — and, of course, to each other as you put together your gear list. You can reach out to our team of experts for guidance on your gear, or take a look at one of our favorite set-ups:

 

How to prep for your video production with a DSLR or mirrorless camera

  1. Connect the HDMI output of the camera to a video capture device via a compatible cable.
  2. Connect the video capture device to your computer.
  3. Install any software that is required by the video capture device, and check the camera settings at both the computer system level and within the web browser to make sure the computer recognizes the camera as a webcam.
  4. Set the frame rate and resolution on the camera itself.
  5. Turn auto-focus on or off, and make any other camera adjustments, like shutter speed and ISO, depending on the needs of your production. Remember, these will not be controlled in OpenReel — and aren’t options on webcams or mobile devices — and are advantages to using a higher end camera.
  6. In the camera settings on the camera itself, enable clean HDMI output so there is no HUD information on the video feed passed to OpenReel.
  7. Schedule a test session to try out the technical side of your new equipment.
  8. When the Subject enters the test session, the Director should set the frame rate and resolution in OpenReel to match the physical camera’s settings.

 

Interested in learning more about shooting on OpenReel with a DSLR or mirrorless camera? Or just want to chat through other equipment questions? Reach out! You can also read more about how to prep for your first remote recording session.

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