Canon EOS SL1/100D using the kit lens 18-55 f/3.5 - 5.6

I am trying to film indoor videos using the DSLR as it's image quality for stills is so much better than anything else I own (iPhone, really...).

I am only using overhead lights right now, and I only have access to that lens. I also have a larger 75-200 (ish) but the f-stops do not go down as low, which really is pointless indoors.

I would like to know how I can best achieve a lower-light video indoors, similar to videos made with DSLRs online, like this one.

I know the camera has something to do with it, but I feel a run-of-the-mill current DSLR body can get me far. I feel like the lens does really well for stills, but just isn't big enough for low-light videos. I also know a 3-spot lighting technique can help me as well, but I'm unsure where I can start first to get the best results.

No matter what I do I realize that the ISO needs to come down. Should a lower f-stop or better lighting get me further? I would like to have the background blurry more than what I'm finding the 3.5 can do, which makes me think I need a different lens... but that could also just be my inabilities with photography.

Feel free to take a look at a recent video I just shot with the setup described. No worries, it's terrible.

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    Light, all you need is light, I had the same issue, I was shooting weddings on a Canon 7D with a 17-85 f3.5-5.6 and even pushing everything up I was getting loads of noise specially when shooting first dances which are almost always in the dark, But I bought a lens which went to f2.8 and that gave me some better results and not having to push the ISO so high, I then threw a LED light on the top and it improved things even more. I have since upgraded to a Canon C100 which has some great low light capabilities but it was a massive amount to spend, Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 10:08
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    But all in all the more lights you can get up or in the better, even if you only have one or tow which you bounce off the ceiling or walls will help Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 10:08
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    I watched the video, you linked as well, a few things you can try, get a few simple LED lights about (£30 or about $50 from ebay or alike) as they work off battery and bounce them off some white card, instead of zooming your lens just move the camera closer to keep the lower f-stop Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 10:14

1 Answer 1


An APC-C sensor size has a diagonal that's 1.6x smaller than FF35 (such as EOS 5d), which means that for a given field of view it behaves as if there's about 1.5 stops more depth of field. Or, seen another way, if you are shooting indoors, you might use a 35mm lens on a FF35 camera and a 22mm lens on an APS-C camera, in which case the 22mm lens has about the same depth of field as if you stopped down the 35mm lens an additional 1.5 stops. So your 18mm f3.5 gives you the depth of field similar to a 28mm shooting at f5.6 (which is pretty deep) and a 55mm shooting at 5.6 has a similar depth of field as an 85mm shooting at f9 (which is still pretty deep). If you rack focus between the back of the room and an object 8" in front of the camera, you will see the rack focus effect, but if you rack focus between 6' and 8', the effect will be minimal.

Cameras such as the SONY A7 are low-light wizards, but nothing else does low-light like that. And shooting with ambient lighting is a recipe for boring, flat-looking video footage that looks amateur. Do study and learn 3-point lighting. First and foremost it will bring your subjects to life. Second, even the most basic cameras and lenses can capture good video of a well-lit scene.

  • I am aware of the cropped sensor phenomenon, but didn't realize it affected the aperture as well. So in that case, would an even lower f-stop work better for video on a 1.6x smaller senor or just get blown out when and if I ever upgrade to full-frame?
    – user4019
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 16:53
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    It doesn't affect the aperture per se. It affects depth of field, which is like the effect of aperture. But it is not as if shooting at f3.5 on an APS-C camera results in a different exposure value than shooting f3.5 on FF35. I hope you are not confused about that. Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 19:22

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