Make Stunning Night Videos with These Best Settings to Use

Trying to capture a breathtaking night scene on camera? It may seem tricky due to the low light conditions. It is still possible to produce outstanding videos even in the dark. Here are some tips and tricks to get the best video camera settings for shooting at night!

To start with, you need to select the right video camera. Even if we are big fans of mirrorless cameras, DSLR cameras remain a great choice for low-light situations, as they have a larger sensor size and enhanced light sensitivity. Second, prepare some lighting tools, like camera light, smartphone flashlight, reflectors, or complete lighting sets to illuminate your scene.

Once you have the right camera and lighting, it's time to get the perfect video settings:

Aperture: A lower f-stop like f/1.2 or f/2.8 is great for capturing more light. Unfortunately, it may also limit the depth of field, making it harder to keep your subjects in focus. If there's a lot of movement in the scene, use f/5.6 instead and add some extra lighting.

ISO: This setting determines the camera's sensitivity to light. In low-light conditions, you can increase the ISO to 500-800 for brighter videos. Don't set it too high, as this can cause the video to look grainy. Keep the ISO to a maximum of 1600 for APS-C cameras and 3200 for full-frame models.

Shutter Speed: A shutter speed of 1/50 for 24 fps video or 1/60 for 30 fps video is best to limit motion blur.

White Balance: You can set the warmth of your scene by enabling manual white balance. To highlight an orange glow from a warm fire, choose a higher Kelvin setting, like 5500-7000. To create a cool blue evening tone, experiment in the area of 2000 K.

Apart from the above tips, there are other things to keep in mind as well. For example, try to shoot in RAW mode, as this will give you more flexibility in post-production. You can also use noise reduction tools to reduce grain in your video.

A couple of more tips to shooting videos in low light.

Since you'll be shooting in low light, you'll need to use a slower shutter speed to let more light into the camera. This can make your footage look shaky and blurry if you're not careful. Using a tripod or stabilizer can help keep your shots steady and smooth.

Before you start filming, take a few test shots to make sure your settings are correct. This will save you time and frustration later on, and ensure that you get the best possible footage.

Nighttime scenes can look particularly striking from certain angles and perspectives. Try shooting from a high vantage point, or from the ground looking up. 

You can also experiment with different lenses, such as a wide-angle lens for a sweeping view or a telephoto lens to zoom in on specific details. Don't be afraid to get creative and try out different ideas!

Let's see this popular tutorial about making videos in low light:

In a nutshell, the author recommends to apply these video settings to capture stunning night videos:

  • Always use at least one light source to avoid having no light, but keep it low to create a dramatic atmosphere.
  • Experiment with backlighting, edge lighting, and silhouettes to add depth and mood to your shots.
  • Properly expose the mid-tones of your subject to avoid overexposure or underexposure.
  • Use a wide aperture, ideally f/2 or lower, to let more light in.
  • Use a longer shutter speed, such as 1/50-1/60, and shoot at 24-30 frames per second to capture more light and create motion blur.
  • Consider using built-in noise reduction or doing it in post-production for better quality.
  • Choose a camera with a large sensor and RAW recording mode for optimal video quality.
  • Use a standard picture profile instead of a log profile to capture a more natural look.

You will need to do some work in post-production:

Avoid lifting the shadows too much and allow them to remain as shadows. Focus on lifting the mid-tones and highlights instead. Use a denoiser carefully, as it can soften your image.

In the end, we can say that capturing high-quality videos in low light requires a balance of creativity, technique, and equipment. Even though it sounds difficult - it is actually not. Just try!