Camcorder settings

Feb 25, 2004
Kind of a spin-off of the "Which camcorder do you use" thread. The question was asked in that thread concerning what settings everyone uses on their camcorder. I would like to explore that also. I have a VX2100 and I've been playing with some of the settings. I've noticed with everything set to auto, sometimes the white balance will shift under dark clouds. This happened to me while recording a storm a few days ago. Everything looked great, then while panning into a dark section of the storm, the white balance shifted and everything had a blue tint (like it thought it was indoors).

After all that babbling, my question is what is the best way to setup the camera for shooting storms? I do pretty good when I have time to set up a shot by using the manual settings. But while chasing, the lighting changes so much there's not much time to mess with the settings. As far as white balance, I will probably set that to outdoors instead of auto and see how that does.

I use manual focus, trying to keep it on infinity which works pretty well (wish you could lock it in while zooming).

I'm curious how the rest of you set up your camcorders for chasing. Do you go all auto, or are there specific things you set manually?
Sheila, funny you bring this up. I was talking to a long-time VX user yesterday who was telling me about these exact same white-balance issues. What he does (and apparently many who shoot professionally with this camera also) is to carry a piece of white paper with him, and then when the light changes at dawn or dusk (he often shoots early morning footage for television), he aims the camera at the paper, and presses the White Balance button, which adjusts the settings.

I haven't done this yet and don't know if there are more details around the procedure, but that's the basics of it. He mentioned that without doing this, a blue-green tint would occur.
white balancing is very important to quality video. Learn your manual settings and use them. I use mine extensively. As soon as we get lazy and try to rely on auto settings for optimum video recording is the time when our video turns to unusable crap. Thats from my perspective anyways.

Amos is correct white Paper will work fine. In a storm situation you may want a more professional white balance card. mine is a piece of white plastic stock with a lanyard..

I sometimes screw up with manual as well under the stress of the chase. YMMV

Fred :wink:
I have used white cards to set the white balance on my SLR, but never for a camcorder. I just did a quick test capturing a few frames here in the house with auto white balance, then setting the white balance manually. Big difference in the overall tint of the video! (manual was much better) So I am now a believer in manually setting the white balance :lol:

I agree that manual settings are always the best. But I'm just afraid I'll forget something when things get exciting. I guess the key is learning the camera and getting to the point where making the manual adjustments becomes second nature.

So please, no comments when I post video of out-of-focus, blue tornadoes :wink:
I was reminded April 10th of why it's important to get familier with your camcorder, especially when it's dark and you can't read the buttons to correct what you just accidentaly
This is on a new Sony 8mm I bought last fall to replace my Canon 8mm for night stuff. It was a hard lesson :roll: