Setting up your DJI Drone Camera for Video Using Shutter Priority
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Becoming a Better Drone Videographer: Setting up your DJI Drone camera for video using shutter priority

In this article, I’m going to show you the basics of setting up your camera in the DJI Go 4 App to shoot video in Shutter Priority Mode using h.264 in UHD 4k Resolution. While I will be demonstrating on an Inspire 2, it will be very similar on the other DJI drone models. Shutter Priority Mode is a good place to start exploring your video. It locks down the shutter speed which can result in better-looking videos.

You can find articles on setting up your drone camera for shooting photographs here: Full Auto, Aperture Priority and Full Manual.

Preparation

  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. Start your drone
  6. You should see a screen similar to the one in the video below

Now watch the setup video below

As far as the Color or Looks setting (depending on the drone you are using), start with Normal and then experiment with the others and see which you like best. One may work better for some videos and not for others. Play with it and find out what looks best to your eye! I also had you set the resolution to record at UHD 4k (16:9 3840×2160 – see screenshot below). For the moment you can skip D-Cinelike or D-Log. I will cover D-Cinelike and D-Log in future articles along with using Manual Mode in a future article.

UHD 4k resolution

UHD 4k Resolution

Using shutter priority mode for your videos

In the video, I have you select S in the Camera settings (see below). Shutter Priority means that you set the shutter speed and the camera doesn’t change it. It changes F/Aperture and ISO.

shutter priority

The other settings

Shutter speed – You set this. In general, if you’re shooting 24 frames per second (fps), you’ll set the shutter speed of 50 or 1/50 of a second. If you are shooting 30 fps then you will set it to 60 or 1/60 of a second. You multiply the frames per second time 2 and then find the closest shutter speed to that value (24*2 = 48, closest shutter speed is 50). So once you set this, typically you don’t change it unless you change frames per second.

What the heck is EV? –  In Shutter Priority Mode, the camera uses the EV setting to determine what to set the values of F/Aperture and ISO (Auto ISO). When you set the EV, the camera will adjust F/Aperture and/or ISO so the amount of light coming into the camera matches the EV setting. The reason it is important to understand this is that if your image is too dark then you increase the EV setting to say, +0.3 or +1.0. If the image is too bright you reduce the EV setting. Also, remember to look at your histogram. You want a histogram to be balanced across while being a little brighter rather than darker.

In the screen captures below, notice EV setting value and the look of the histogram. When looking at a histogram, the left side is the dark or shadow side and the right side is the bright or highlight side.

  • In the first screen, the EV setting is +0.3 and most of the histogram is showing up on the left side.
  • In screen 2 the EV setting is +0.7 and the histogram is pretty well balanced with the peak being on the bright side because of the sky. You could try shooting with this.
  • In screen 3 the EV setting is +1.3 and the histogram is pushed a little to the right. This exposure setting may give you the results, but it might be too bright unless you put it into an editor and bring the bright side/highlights down a little. If you are not going to do that then Screen 2 setting would be a better choice.

With all these settings, you need to try them and see what your video looks like. These kinds of things are always trial and error, but this should give a good starting place.

Screen 1: Histogram too dark – Notice how everything is more on the left or dark side of the histogram

Histogram too dark

 

Screen 2: A histogram that is balanced for the Scene – the peak on the right is the bright sky.

Histogram balance for the scene

 

A Histogram that is a little brighter – this is referred to often referred to as exposed to the right or ETTR.

Histogram to the right

 

To change the EV you can use the right wheel on the remote controller (see below) to change the EV. By pushing down on the wheel, you move between ISO, Shutter Speed, and EV. When you rotate the wheel, you change the value up or down. Using the wheel lets you make the changes while still viewing the entire image on your screen.

Show wheel

ISO – When using the wheel and you have the ISO selected, rotating the wheel allows you to switch between Auto ISO and ISO. Once you switch to ISO, the camera will no longer change ISO automatically. To change it manually, rotate the wheel and the ISO number will change. If you are doing this manually, always keep the ISO number as low as possible and still make the histogram look balanced.

ND filters – You use ND filters when the camera is choosing F/Aperture number that is larger than what you want. When the F/Aperture number gets to large it can start to degrade the quality of the video. I use ND filters and try to keep my F/Aperture below 5.6 unless I am wanting to accomplish something specific with the F/Aperture.

White balance – I recommend you set your white balance to either Sunny or Cloudy to start with. Once you get comfortable, explore the manual setting, watching how the image on the screen changes. To set it this way, look at the scene you are shooting the video of and then the image on your screen. Adjust the white balance until they match.

Conclusion

Shutter Priority Mode is a good place to start exploring your video. It locks down the shutter speed which will give you better-looking videos. Your next step will be to explore to Full Manual Mode and using D-Cinelike for your Style.

Fly safe and have fun!

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