Setting up your DJI Drone Camera for Video Using Manual Mode and D-Cinelike
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Becoming a Better Drone Videographer: Setting up your DJI Drone Camera for Video Using Manual Mode and D-Cinelike

In this article, I’m going to show you the basics of setting up your camera in DJI Go 4 App to shoot video using Manual mode and D-Cinelike. While I will be using an Inspire 2, this will be very similar to the other model DJI drones. In a future article, I will show you how to color correct them.

You will find an article on using Shutter Priority with your videos here.

Preparation

I would suggest that you do your initial setup on the bench rather than in the field.

  1. Set your drone on a work table or bench and remove the propellers.
  2. Turn on your remote controller.
  3. Connect your tablet or smartphone.
  4. Start the Go 4 App
  5. You should see a screen similar to the one in the video below.

Now watch the setup video below

The Other Settings

D-Cinelike

D-Cinelike will give you a bit more latitude to record the brighter and darker areas in your videos(more dynamic range). Because of this additional dynamic range, you will be able to expose with your histogram a little more to the right (see video above for an example). The result of this can be a reduction in the amount of noise you see in the darker areas of the image. In addition, D-Cinelike is a little flatter (looks a little grayed out). This flatter profile will allow you to play more with contrast and color, in the editor, than you would be able to with other Color or Looks (Standard, ART, etc.)

Also in setting Style, I had you choose Custom and set Contrast, Saturation and Sharpness to -1. This will give you more flexibility when you edit/color correct your footage. You typically will need to add some of each to get the image to look the way you want when you edit/color correct the video.

Why not D-Log?

D-Cinelike appears to be a great option to D-Log since the DJI implementation of h.264 is 8-bit (think less data). D-Log behaves best with 10-bits (think more data) or more. Often 8-bits isn’t enough. If you are shooting with an Inspire 2 and can shoot in ProRes (10-bit) or RAW (12-bit) then D-Log will often be your best choice depending on the lighting. In my own experimentation and many other users, I am finding that D-Cinelike with H.264 is my preferred choice.

Exposure

When using D-Cinelike you will want to experiment with how bright you make the image. D-Cinelike gives you some additional dynamic range and so you will be able to expose brighter than you would be using the standard Color or Looks. Explore and see what looks best to you. See the video above for some examples.

ISO

As you increase the ISO value from 100 to 200 to 400 and so on, it will increase the brightness of the image and resulting video. Using your histogram you want to first see if you can achieve what you want using F/Aperture. If not and you need to go brighter, you can increase ISO. The tradeoff is that as you increase ISO, you also increase noise in the image. Always use the lowest setting you can.

Shutter Speed

Typically you will set your shutter speed based upon your frame rate. If your frame rate is 24fps (frames per second), then you would set your shutter speed to 1/50 or 50. With 30fps your shutter speed would be 1/60 or 60. There are always exceptions to the rules (think of them more as guidelines) and so there are times when using a slower or faster shutter speed can give you the results you are looking for. At some point, increasing or reducing the shutter speed will result in un-natural look to your video. This is another great place to experiment and find what works for you.

F/Aperture

F/Aperture is another area to explore. Typically with the small sensors that are in these drones, you will want to keep your maximum F/Aperture to 5.6. At the other end of the scale, making the F/Aperture too small, F 2 for example, can result in the images not being as sharp. I do my best to keep in the range of F/Aperture 4-5.6 unless I have a specific reason like lighting, look or feel, or depth of field, that I want to achieve. Again explore this on your own. Also look at using ND filters if it is too bright out and you want to keep your F/Aperture at a lower value, using ND filters will let you do this.

ND Filters

You use ND filters when you want a lower F/Aperture number than the lighting will support and give you the histogram that you are wanting. Basically, ND filters block a certain amount of light. If you are wanting to use F 4, for example, and the histogram shows you that it is too bright, you can use an ND filter to reduce the amount of light coming through the lens. ND filters come in different densities. I have ND filters that are 2, 3, 4, 6 stops. When I want to use a specific F/Aperture number, say F/4, and the histogram tells me it is too bright, I can put an ND filter on the lens to reduce the amount coming into the lens.

Conclusion

So this will get you started using manual mode and D-Cinelike with your video. Again, explore, experiment and find what works best for you!

If you are having problems with jitter in your videos, see my article on Reducing Jitter in Video for a more detailed look.

Fly safe and have fun!

DJI Mavic Air at B&H

DJI Mavic Pro at B&H

DJI Phantom 4 Pro at B&H

BJI Inspire 2 at B&H

All Drones at B&H

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