Essential Guides for Aspiring Cinematographers

Whether you are considering buying a video-capable DSLR, just purchased one or would simply like to know more about how to use them for video, there are extensive resources available to get you started. Many of these options will take awhile to wade through, but all offer excellent information, tips and techniques for purchasing, setting up and using your DSLR camera.


BH Photo


Before you purchase a DSLR for shooting video, check out the HDSLR section of the BH Photo website. Here, BH photo offers an extensive HDSLR guide to teach consumers the ins and outs of HDSLR cameras, accessories and techniques. Even if you have already purchased a camera, this guide will serve as an invaluable resource in learning about your new camera. The guide includes 16 chapters, with multiple sections in each chapter, presented in a user-friendly Flash-format website. It is compiled by 16 contributers, all with video production experience. Begin exploring the guide by visiting

Shane Hurlbut, ASC will be teaching a free, six-episode course at over the course of March and April. Hurlbut is director of photography for numerous Hollywood productions, including Terminator: Salvation, Drumline, Semi-Pro and 11:14. According to his website,, the DP is passionate about the use of HDSLR cameras on the set and he teaches intensive, two-day boot camp sessions throughout the year on the subject. Now you can learn his tips and techniques from the comfort of your living room by viewing the HDSLR Educational Series for Cinema. The first episode, “Know your Camera,” aired February 28th and is available for viewing at the BH Photo website.

Hurlbut goes through the settings of his Canon HDSLR, instructing how to use and navigate menus and how he prefers to set white balance and other options. Future episodes are titled “Challenges and Solutions,” “Lenses,” “Starter Kits,” “Workflow” and “A New Language.”


Vimeo Video School

Vimeo Video SchoolVimeo Video School

Vimeo Video School teaches through video at The site has three main sections: Video 101 – teaching the basics of choosing a camera, shooting and editing, DSLR Basics – an introduction to DSLR cameras, and Featured Lessons – teaching basic to advanced lessons on all things relevant to DSLR video. Lessons can also be viewed by category, specifically Behind the Scenes, Do-It-Yourself, DSLR, Editing, Gear, Lighting, Shooting, Software and Sound. All lessons are taught by Vimeo staff and provide detailed explanations to specific, searchable topics.



DSLR Cinematography Guide at NoFilmSchoolDSLR Cinematography Guide at NoFilmSchool

The most extensive resource, however, is the resource put together by Koo, a filmmaker and one of Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces of Film, at It's called the DSLR Cinematography Guide, and though it is compiled exclusively by on person rather than a collaboration of filmmakers, it covers a broad number of topics and gives practical details and examples for each topic. There are 30 chapters with titles ranging from choosing a DSLR and saving money to post production and more advanced topics such as color grading. The full PDF guide is available for free upon subscription to the NoFilmSchool newsletter. Just subscribe, download and read.


You may not be able to peruse all these resources (and a lot of material overlaps), but if you are just starting out on the adventure the DSLR offers, these will get you started on your learning endeavors.