Fundamentals CMCI 2001

The Canon VIXIA HF G40

Setting Manual Exposure

The following instructions apply to using the camera manually, not automatically. In this course, you are expected to learn how to operate the camera the way professionals do. Using automatic features may be an easy way to start using the camera, but it limits your choices and, to the trained eye, your shots will also appear amateurish due to effects like "iris breathing", which can ruin your shot. In manual mode, your colours will appear more vibrant, whites will look white and blacks will be richer. 

Using the Manual functions of the camera is how you take control of your craft. Using automatic features regularly is a telltale sign of an unsophisticated shooter and you may end up with footage that will leave you with nothing but grief in the post-production stage. 

Therefore, we're not going to teach you how to use the automatic features because the expectations among employers are that you know how to operate a camera. We want you to manually adjust your exposure, white balance and focus. If you treat manual operation as a burden, then reconsider why you want to enter the broadcast profession. 

Setting the camera to Manual

Set the camera mode switch to M for manual. This switch is located above the zoom rocker on the side grip.

Setting this switch to M will enable you full access to the menu items that will let you manually adjust exposure, white balance and many other settings. 

Setting the Record Programs

To operate the camera manually, you need to set the Record Program to M for Manual.

FUNC > Record Programs > M

A quick overview of the other Record Programs

P - Programmed - this setting allows the camera to automatically adjust the aperture and shutter speed

Tv Shutter Priority - when you manually set the shutter speed, the camera will automatically set an appropriate aperture value. 

Av Aperture Priority - when you manually set the aperture the camera will automatically set an appropriate shutter speed value. 

Adjusting Exposure

Setting the record program to the M setting, the LCD will show the aperture (F-stops), Shutter Speed (appear as a fraction) and Gain (appear using the dB (decimal) value. 

You can tap each of these to change the value.

F-Stop - this changes the aperture, which sets the amount of light that enters the lens. Tap on the F value and you can then tap the adjustment dial arrows below to change the F-stop. Smaller F-stops means more light can enter the lens. 

Shutter Speed - this setting is useful when you want to avoid blurs in fast motion. For example, faster shutter speeds will result in more defined edges in action shots at sporting events. But when you increase the shutter speed the amount of light that enters the lens is reduced. Start with a a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second. Anything less will result in noticeable and even distracting motion blurs that could ruin your shot if you're not careful. 

Gain - this setting is used only in low-light situations when you can't get enough light entering the lens for an appropriately exposed shot. Gain strengthens the video signal making the image appear brighter, but too much gain will add noise to the image and can be distracting. Apply gain judiciously. 

Zebra Pattern

This patter of striped lines that appear over your image is an exposure assist, helping you to identify parts of the image that are overexposed. Use the zebra pattern to set your exposure properly. 

When you set the Manual Exposure mode in the LCD viewfinder, tap the Zebra Pattern icon just below the wrench. This will apply the zebra pattern to the image. Then adjust the exposure until most of the stripes in overexposed areas are reduced. Some areas like bright sky and lamps in the background may retain a zebra pattern.