Setting the exposure on the Nikon D5100 for video mode can be a little tricky.

I want to do a shoot out between the Canon T3i and the Nikon D5100 but I hit somewhat of a road block on setting the exposure for video mode for the Nikon.

I did a lot of research around the web and it appears you can manual set exposure for the D7100 but not D5100. However it appears in the video that I got it to work.

If there are any Nikon people out there that know if I did this correctly let me know.

In this video I am also trying out the Sigma 30mm F1.4 EX DC lens for the Canon and the Nikon.


  • Hey Dave, love the site and the tutorials! I’m excited to see more Nikon-related videos!

    One other thing that you might want to try is to change the Focus mode to Manual. You do this by pressing the info edit button (left of AE-L button), toggle down to Focus mode (press down four times/right below Release mode), then select Manual focus. Hope this helps!

  • really nice website dave! aren´t you planning to try to make some footage on panasonic gh cameras? i would like to see some great tutorials of yours on these cameras… keep up the great work .wish you the best!

  • Hi Dave,

    I love all your video tutorials. Although I have taken still for 2-3 years, I have just started to shoot video by DSLR. All you videos are really useful to me. And very interesting. Keep up your good work.

    I used to have Nikon D5000, but I did not shoot video with it. What I say below is based on my understanding from using D5000 for stills. In your video, you used “S” mode and adjusted the exposure compensation before you locked the exposure. I suggest you try using the “M” mode in which you should be able to adjust both the shutter speed to 1/50 s and the aperature to, say, f2.8 independently. I am not sure if it works for video. No harm you can try it out.


  • Hi Dave…If you want to shoot video with preselected shutter speed and f stop. set it up first,as if you were shooting a still shot THEN switch to Live video mode….the settings will be locked in for the duration of the take.

  • I’m afraid things could be much more complicated…..

    On the d3100 (which I own – and according to the manuals they use the same logic) you can only select the aperture, the focus and the white balance. The rest, the ISO/shutter speed combination, will be selected by the camera when you enter live view. You can try (and pray) to get that 1/50 + ISO 100 combination, but you may very well get 1/200 ISO 400 or anything else. Yes, it will be locked by the Lock button, but you have no idea at which value. The display indication is not the actual value (as unbelievable is it may be). To add insult to injury there is no way you can replicate the same conditions next time you enter live view….. And – like it or not – the camera will sooner or later exit live view due to overheating…… Here in Middle East sometimes after five or six minutes (and it’s not summer yet!) Let me know if you agree – if you prove me wrong I will be grateful forever!

  • Hi Dave, wow the last post threw everything I knew out the window. I didn’t know the display value was not accurate. However the camera is does a good job at filming. I didn’t see anywhere mention that before you(or in order to lock) the exposure you have to go into the settings and have it locked for exposure only (instructions found in the manual). Lock the exposure before switching to liveview. Then change the picture style, set it to neutral and create a custom setting of off that. In the new setting take the sharpness level all the way to the left to remove digital sharpness which I think is degrades the image just as digital zoom does. Push the contrast to the left as well for better highlights and perhaps desaturate it a notch or 2 to the left. The dispaly may be innacurate as mentioned above but the end result is very well pleasing. Hope this helps a bit

  • To add to my post and the confusion haha, I was refering to the D5100. So I don’t know if the inaccurate display mention for the D3100 applies to the D5100 but I do wonder. Also another quick tip for manual focusing. Comming from HDV camera operator us videographer have the old habit of zooming in then focusing and zoom out, this is the way to go with videocameras but not DSLRs as they do not maintain focus that way. To focus, after setting up the camera and entering live view, use the zoom in and zoom out buttons for digital zooming. Zoom in and focus then zoom out using the zoom out button for a prestine focus.

  • To add to my previous post, I have had more time to shoot with the 5100, and find that something is going on with exposures, that I can`t control, when shooting video. Specifically, I was shooting a beautiful Caribbean sunset,tripod mounted, the camera set to M, ISO 100, selected shutter speed and f stop using the meter (not in live view), took a still, and it was beautiful. Engaged AEL to keep the f stop and shutter speed, entered live mode, and started to shoot video.What I got as a video appeared to be easily two stops overexposed….even though the ISO was set to 100, the camera made that unwanted exposure change for me, with the very same f stop/shutter speed as the still shot. Very disappointed with this , as the video quality is very good otherwise.I would love to know how others are working with this problem, if possible.

  • @Peter yes I know it is like the Nikon has a mind of its own. I think Nikon needs to work on giving us all the control.

  • This video is INCORRECT!!! Look at it again, carefully!! When you panned the nikon from the greyscale target to the window, it DID in fact quickly auto adjust the exposure. As the window came into the frame, it was initially blown out for a split second, and then “greyed” or darkened as the full window came into the frame.
    So it was NOT full manual exposure.

  • Hey guys I just bought this camera and mainly with video in mind. I was beginning to wonder if locking exposure and shutter speed was possible. I followed this tutorial and I’m able to set the controls manually and keep them set. Important to do so and press AE-L button before going into LIVE VIEW. AE Lock (Hold) needs to be set in custom settings menu too.
    It works I shot an interview today with light changes. Settings remained locked.

  • Dave,

    Is there any particular reason why you weren’t using the M mode while shooting video? I am new to video shooting myself with my D5100, but I thought I would ask. Since, as far as I am aware, M gives you all the control you want. At least that’s how the manual says.


  • I too am figuring out the D3100 and I noticed that M mode is what I use because I like to control the Shutter, Aperture and ISO. In Video it changes and is over exposed. Say I want a darker scene with shadows, What I found is I have to in photo change it to under exposed more than I want to and then guesstimate it. I want to try locking it down with AE lock and see if that changes anything. The book says the same thing that switching to movie mode after selecting F stop and shutter. I want to see if AE Lock helps at all.

  • Local Colour!!! Thanks so much! I’ve been racking my brain all day to figure that one out.

  • This comes a bit late in the thread but of course you can set the exposure for video on the D5100. In the menu set the function of the AE-AF button to AE Lock. Then set the mode to M (manual) and set the desired exposure. Then, in live mode, lock the exposure by pressing the AE button. Then record. The exposure will remain locked until you cancel it by pressing the AE button again. That’s it! All ye naysayers .. pshaw!

  • Good video, just to say the D7100 doesn’t exist yet its the D7000. The quality of Nikon video looks better than Canon in my opinion (better colours etc, like their photos) but they aren’t there with manual control yet and I think they’re going for more of a family thing for filming where it doesn’t matter, but I guess we’ll see, I think the D7100 will be a 7D/550D but Nikon model.

  • Hey Dave and DSLR peoples, I just got a bunch of old AI an AI-s Nikon lenses from my mom (from the eighties). These lenses don’t have automatic metering. So what would happen if I put these lenses on a new D5100?

  • Miles,
    Not sure it’s a good idea to use those 80’s lenses. At the very least you’ll find yourself taking pictures in a sort of montage with synth music following you wherever you go. You may also find the sleeves of your jacket halfway up your arms and a creeping feeling of dread concerning AIDS and nuclear holocaust.

  • Ok, if anyone is still reading, this was cracked on another forum. You set to manual. Assigned the ae/af button to ae (hold). Set ISP, aperture and speed. BEFORE going to live view, point the camera at a surface that returns a correct exposure in the exposure meter. Hit the ae button. Engage live view while keeping the correctly exposed surface in view. After a second or so,the settings will be locked and the camera will preserve them without trying to compensate for differing lighting conditions . It’s a faff, but it works. Repeat for each ISO aperture or shutter change.

  • OK kids I have one more thing to add.
    1. set d5100 or D3100 to aperture mode.
    2. before going into live view set your aperture, say 2.0 or whatever you want.
    3. go into live view, now here is the clincher, you can now use the exposure compensation to get the lighting just the way you want it by going up or down using the exposure compensation button and the dial, you will see the exposure change live as you turn the dial, unlike changing the aperture in live view which does nothing until you leave live view and re enter it then your new aperture setting is visible on the screen, this way you can also darken and lighten the video on the fly or just lock it once your happy with the setting. Exposure compensation only works in aperture mode not manual. This way you get to use the aperture you want and get the exposure just right so you can have more depth of field or less and still get the lighting the way you want it. You can also switch to manual mode once you have used the exposure comp and the setting remains the same but there is really no point just stay in aperture mode. I believe the shutter speed is set by the camera no matter what mode you are in or what it says it is on the info screen, also the ISO is set by the camera and changing it has no effect on the video you record. This method gives you more manual control than just locking the exposure.
    Thanks to all because I did not no you could pre set the aperture before going into live view, I new about locking exposure but now I think I have taken it one step further.

  • You can actually use exposure compensation in manual mode, you have to click on the info button and change it in the menu but you can’t see the difference until you hit the info button again.

  • Sorry, i’m an html noob 😀 i was trying to make a quote here…
    Posted June 19, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    This video is INCORRECT!!! Look at it again, carefully!! When you panned the nikon from the greyscale target to the window, it DID in fact quickly auto adjust the exposure. As the window came into the frame, it was initially blown out for a split second, and then “greyed” or darkened as the full window came into the frame.
    So it was NOT full manual exposure.
    Posted June 19, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    @Andrew thanks for letting me know, Nikon does not have full manual control like the Canon’s do.” Qoute end

    I want to remark, that as far as i can logically conclude, the D5100 was not adjusting the exposure at all since it the exposure was locked. But, the camera that was filming the whole demonstration was probably in auto exposure mode! Now, if you look closer, you can see that the image on the D5100’s screen AND the video itself (the background) darkens SIMULTANEOUSLY. Nikon might not give us full manual mode (i am looking forward to buy this camera), but i don’t think that they’d simply Lie with the option titles.

  • Hello,

    I have also seen this video issue with the 5100. The trick with setting to aperture mode and adjusting EV compensation works but
    as far as I can tell this is not a manual control the auto exposure is still functioning the +/- EV compensation is just adding on
    an exposure offset. If you lock the exposure then it does not change. The only issue is trying to get a consistent exposure from take to take. I would guess that with consistent lighting and a grey card you could get consistent results metering something constant and then locking the exposure. However it would be so nice to be able to specify it. I can’t think of a single technical reason why this could not be achieved in the F/W of the camera.That would only leave marketing considerations for leaving this feature out of this camera.

  • I agree with Don, I have found a way to get the camera to do the same exposure repetitively but its not ideal as setting it with manual settings like you should be able to do but can’t. The manual states you can only set aperture and exposure comp when it comes to videos. No iso and no shutter those are automatic.
    But if you mess with the effects to record video Nikons presets seem to work as soon as you go into live view and you can change them in live view and record with those settings, if they can set the settings why can’t we. We need a firmware update but I doubt if they will do that. It might be time to move up to the new D800.
    Waiting for some full reviews, this camera should allow full manual video control and may be the best Nikon camera to date. It ain’t cheap but it’s cheaper than all the other pro nikons and most likely the best.

  • Hello there,
    One additional trick: Use either an old AI/S lens, OR a CPU lens (up to AF-D, with aperture ring) with the contacts blocked by a piece of tape.
    You go into live view and then set your aperture manually to any aperture you may want to use, point it to your grey surface, or an area which reperesents your desired average exposure.
    The camera then corrects iso/speed for that area automatically, as stated above.
    You then hit the AE/L button to freeze the iso and speed values (unknown), and start filming, same as above.
    But now you still have a manual aperture ring, which you can use to adjust your exposure manually while fiming.
    This can be used for tricky situations like a sunset, where the lighting will or may vary, and you may wish to start filming with a under- or over-exposed sequence.

    I’m still a bit frustrated to be unable to manually set the iso and the shutter speed …

  • One more trick to put up your sleeve… Use a variable ND filter on the lens. After lockdown and even during shooting it can be lightened or darkened smoothly (no steps like aperture adjustment). Just take care not to get your fingers in the shot or wobble the camera!

  • friends
    put it in aperture priority mode
    iso set menu
    open set
    the exposure button compenssação look for the desired shutter speed 1/50 1/60 ….
    block the exhibition.

    then to try to modify the values ​​of openness or looking for the same ISO and shutter speed, you will see how and exposure changes according

  • Scroll down (or up, depending) to what the user “archipod” said. What he said is perfectly right on the money. Do what he says (I’ve confirmed it) and you will be stoked. The only thing you have to stop recording to set is the ISO, from what I’m noticing. Not a huge deal, since I want to record at ISO 100 at all times (My 50mm 1.8G lens is so good in low light that I don’t ever have to go higher than ISO 100 anyway).

  • A lot of great stuff here. I put much of it to use, but i cannot for the life of me reduce the grain(static fuzz) in my videos set in near black environments. Does anyone know why this is? It seems in low light situations the D5100 suffers severe image distortion. Fuzzy, grainy, blotchy, chunks all over.
    I followed and played with most mentioned in
    Which helped a lot, but still there is a persistent grain.
    I am shooting 1/6s, F9, Exposure -4.0, iso250 wb Incandescent.
    So if anyone has dealt with this or knows what I’m talking about. I could use some advice. Even if its just to inform me that this is unavoidable.


  • Hey Ra, the reason is because you are using F9. Drop the f-stop down to like F2-F4 range. The second thing that you have to do is set your auto ISO max value to 200. It uses whatever ISO it wants in video mode without telling you (from what I’ve been told) so set it to use a maximum of 200 (the lowest setting).
    Lastly, you need to set your AE-L/AF-L button in the menu to “lock” once you have moved the red box to where you want to set the exposure to. Sometimes you have to leave live mode and come back to see the changes you’ve made (especially f-stop changes).
    Yeah man, an aperture of F9 will give you grainy video for sure. Gotta get yourself a fixed focal length lens (like a 35 or 50mm 1.8G) and it will do very well in low light and you won’t have all that grain in the black (but you must use a low f-stop).

  • As far as the auto ISO thing I just mentioned above goes, I usually just set mine to 100 but now that I’m realizing that it auto changes it in video mode for me, I’m better off setting it to auto ISO and telling it the max value, which unfortunately 100 is not an option. On the Canons, ISO 160 was better for noise but Nikons don’t have this situation from what I understand.