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Let's Talk about Canon 5D Mark III Video Settings!

In: 
Published: 29/01/2021

Shooting video clips can be challenging at times, especially when you're not sure what settings to use. If you're having trouble with exposure consistency, or you always end up taking new clips, we're giving the complete guide to help improve your videography skills.   

Canon 5D Mark III Video Settings Cheat Sheet

The 5D Mark III is a compact camera that works with variable lighting conditions and different types of lenses. To give you a starting point, these are the general settings you can use and adjust as you shoot.

Shooting Mode 

Using the manual mode on the Canon EOS 5D Mark III provides you creative control when setting the exposure. Unlike priority shooting modes, manual mode helps you get a better understanding of the depth of field, lighting, and focus.

Aside from manual shooting mode, the menu in the Canon EOS 5D Mark III also lets you select a different setting depending on your situation. 

  • Auto: In contrast to the manual setting, Auto allows the camera to automatically select the optimum aperture, shutter speed, and flash settings. When you want to save time in programming, all you have to do is press the shutter button and take the shot. 
  • Aperture Priority: For this one, you can set the aperture and ISO while the camera chooses the corresponding shutter speed for your frame.
  • Shutter Priority: This is the best setting if you prefer more control over the shutter speed, while the device automatically sets the appropriate aperture.
  • Bulb: Ideal for long exposure shots, particularly during night video shoots.
  • Program: Keep your camera in this setting if you want the camera to dial the exposure for you as you press the shutter button and depending on the available light. 

To give you a better idea, try using Manual when taking a picture, then experiment with the various settings first before moving to full-length movies.

Canon camera on granite countertop

Exposure

Getting the right exposure is one of the ways to make your shots look good. When taking a picture, it's tempting to zoom in on elements or subjects as you shoot. However, you must make sure that the exposure won't change whenever you zoom in or out.

Similar to when you need to use another lens with a different maximum aperture, you must prevent the shot from darkening due to less light reaching the camera sensor.

With that said, these are the 5D Mark III exposure settings you need to modify. 

  • Aperture: This controls the amount of light hitting the image sensor. A high aperture means less light entering the camera, which is ideal if you want a more focused frame. On the other hand, you can keep a low aperture for more light to reach the sensor and make a much more blurred background.
  • Shutter speed: The shutter speed indicates how fast the shutter opens and closes for a certain period of time. As opposed to shooting pictures, shutter speed in videography requires you to double the frame rate. If you're shooting at 60 frames per second, you can set the shutter speed around 1/120.
  • ISO: The ISO indicates the camera's sensitivity to light. Usually, you can set a low ISO value to produce darker images, whereas choosing high ISO creates brighter shots.

White Balance

Choosing the white balance is subjective, particularly since it depends on the overall look you want to achieve. 

It would be best to set the camera to Custom White Balance so that the white balance won't change even if you modify the ISO or aperture. Likewise, you can still change the white balance as you shoot. 

With Auto White Balance, the white balance also changes as you adjust other settings, making it more difficult to process your shots later. Likewise, you may find Auto White Balance too cool when there's too much light.

Color Temperature

Whether it's for a picture or footage, you'll have to do color grading in post-process, so you need to make sure you choose the right color temperature first. Note that you would reduce the color date if you turn down the saturation.

Like in other kinds of photography, it's much easier to desaturate a shot than to boost saturation and contrast. For instance, a standard-setting means keeping the contrast, saturation, and color tone in the middle and the sharpness on the far left of the adjustment settings.

For punchy color temperature, you can still put the sharpness level on the far left of the menu, although you would most likely increase the contrast, saturation, and color tone. 

Temperature Warnings 

Like most EOS DSLRs, the 5D Mark III has a temperature warning that notifies you if the sensor is becoming too hot due to long recording. You must be aware of these automatic camera settings because they can help plan your shots.

  • White temperature gauge: When the white gauge shows up on the LCD screen, this means that it's fine for you to continue recording. However, the image quality of stills won't be as great as usual, so you may have to wait for the camera to cool down.  
  • Red temperature gauge: You will see a blinking red icon on the LCD screen if the temperature goes further up. The recording will shut off automatically to avoid damaging the sensor. 

Sharpening

This 5D Mark III camera automatically turns off sharpening. Depending on the shot you like to achieve, you may adjust the lens to increase or decrease the sharpness. Another option is to enhance sharpness in post-production. 

Frame Rate and Aspect Ratio

As a general rule of thumb, you may record videos at 24 frames per second to produce an artistic or cinematic effect. In this way, you can get the best image quality and highest resolution for video footage.

Meanwhile, you can shoot movies at a higher fps, or around 60 frames per second, if you want to create slow-motion movie clips. 

For the aspect ratio, it would be best to consider the shape of your video's final format so that you won't have trouble cropping in post-processing. Make sure to calculate the corresponding width and height for the equipment where you will show or view the movie clips. 

A black and white DSLR camera on a table

File Type

Similar to choosing the file type for shooting a picture, it's also essential that you select the right movie file type for in-camera playback. EOS DSLR cameras usually contain two file types: movie file (.MOV) and thumbnail file (.THM). 

You may delete the thumbnail files if you only need to transfer your movie clips to a computer for editing. However, you have to keep the .THM files if you need to put the movie files back to the camera. Without the .THM files, you won't be able to play the .MOV file back. 

Audio Recording

The headphone jack of the EOS 5D Mark III enables you to put a microphone for recording audio exactly how it sounds in a given situation. In effect, you get to know if you need to turn the volume up or down or if there's any distortion in the audio.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Change Lenses When Recording Movies?  

A 50mm or prime lens is among the easiest lenses to use with this camera for videography because its f-stop lets in more light. You can also use a zoom lens, like a 24-105mm lens, to get multiple perspectives from a single location. Learn more about what lens to pick with our guide.

Are There Compression Choices in Canon Cameras?

The camera contains IPB compression settings for videos that go along with the fps and resolution settings. The IPB is the compressed setting, which is ideal for keeping the file sizes down. Meanwhile, the ALL-I results in uncompressed files for better image quality and easier editing.

What Are the Improvements from 5D Mark II to 5D Mark III?

Unlike the 5D Mark II, the 5D Mark III has 300% higher max ISO, more focus points, a larger image display, and longer battery life, letting you shoot more frames and obtain better video control.     

Where Can I Watch Canon 5D Mark III Video Setting Tutorials? 

A great place to start is to go to YouTube.com and look for "Canon 5D MK III video focus." Another good class on shooting real estate video is Grant Johnston's Learn to Shoot Real Estate Video class.

Conclusion

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III is among Canon's line of cameras that made it easier for people to take pictures and video footage using a single device. With practice, you can change the Canon 5D Mark III settings depending on your needs and capture incredible movies even in low light conditions.

Bonus: Check out our guide to picking the best flash for a Canon 5D Mark III.

5 comments on “Let's Talk about Canon 5D Mark III Video Settings!”

  1. You didn't mention wha lens you were using.

    The wider the lens the deeper (more area) depth of field you will have. I have shot with a 14mm and 17mm at f4 with perfectly acceptable results. In fact I hate shooting anything narrower than 5.6 becuase sensor dust is impossible to see in the field and is minimized when shooting wider apertures. Just focus 6-8 feet in front of the camera or at 2/3rds the depth of the room if its a larger space and everything should be well within acceptable range. If you are using a 24-50mm+ lens you will need to manually focus every single take precisely there is much less room for error as longer focal lengths on Full Frame cameras have very narrow depth of fields.

    Another tip is to shoot at a faster frame rate. A lot of people are going to tell you to shoot at 24fps at 1/50th of a second for a "true film look". This is a pandoras box of opinions but there is zero argument, a faster frame rate will produce sharper frames when "motion" is introduced, like a walk through gimbal.

    Also if its really cheap lens you can actual add some sharpening in post in Premier and (probaby i dont know for sure) Final Cut.

  2. Practice, practice, practice. It is amazing the different views you can generate of your own home as you apply what you learned on YouTube. Same with the Ronin-M and other accessories as you progress from footage looking like the village drunk on payday Friday, to mildly intoxicated, to actually sober. (HINT - wear good socks and shoot without shoes and a shuffle/gentle step (YouTube demo) to eliminate the bounce with each step.)

  3. I have shot 5dmkIII video for a few years now. Recently switched to GH5, but am going back to Canon. If you can stand an extra 15ish minutes of post processing, you can shoot Magic Lantern RAW video. You will have more control over the files, and I almost always shoot 1/25th at 24fps.

    We are making real estate videos here that will most likely be viewed on a mobile device (or potentially terrible screen), not full cinematic feature films. If you are going for the top of the 1% of homes, maybe a bit of rolling shutter makes a difference here or there, but I have shot 150k - 15M dollar homes with the same settings and haven't heard the first complaint.

    To Michael's point above, I usually shoot on a slider, not a gimbal. You might want to get a faster frame rate for that, but when I use a gimbal, I am generally at the same settings.

    As Larry says, practice, practice, practice. It makes a difference.

    Good luck

    Jed

  4. Michael and Jed - thanks so much for sharing your specific settings. A couple more questions for you both - Do you shoot in shutter/aperture priority or manual? Do you try to avoid going above a certain ISO? Jed, you are correct about most videos being viewed on mobile, and I think what I've delivered to my clients will look fine on mobile devices, but still hoping to improve.

    Larry - I like the socks idea, I don't think I've heard that one before. Good thing I'm usually by myself in the house!

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