Proper exposure in video has two drastically different answers, based on who you ask.

What M. V says

Vicent Laforet prefer to underexpose his footage, reasoning that it is easier to bring back details from the shadows than from over exposed areas.

What I say

While I agree with Vincent that it is impossible to bring details that have been blown out, my personal approach is to over expose my clip up to the point where clipping would start and back off a bit (using the live histogram). Then, once I am in postproduction, I reduce the exposure to the desired level.

The reason for this is that video compression formats, such as H.264 assigns more memory to store the details in the bright part of an image than the dark parts. So, by shooting a brighter image, the camera will capture and store more details for every frame.

There is one big caveat to this: you have to be extremely careful to not clip your highlights since it is impossible to recover any details from an over exposed section. This is even more challenging when shooting at high ISO since the dynamic range is greatly reduced, making clipping much easier.

While it is hard to manage exposure with much precision using the camera controls, a better way to do it is to use a graduated ND filter while watching the live histogram.

Also, clips shot this way require a more post processing. First you need to correct the exposure, then you have to boost the saturation & contrast to remove the washed out look.

Yes but…

If you are shooting in an uncontrollable/changing environment, you better play it safe and aim for a well balanced histogram. You will not get the best image quality but in these cases, it is better to play it safe than missing the shot.

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chief astronomer at planet5D LLC
Mitch "planetMitch" Aunger is the creator and mastermind behind — which covers every aspect of HDSLR cameras (and a whole lot of other cameras as well). A lover of photography since his early days, he graduated to selling stock photos to make a little bit of spare cash. It wasn’t much, but it allowed him to upgrade to better cameras as well as computers, and it wasn’t taking money away from feeding his family.
He loves the stories that the still image can tell. In the summer of 2008, he read a story written by Arnold Kim called “I Quit My Job” — Arn is the owner of He started macrumors in 2000 as a hobby, and by 2008 he was making more money with the site than he was on his day job, so he quit. The surprise to the story is that he was a doctor making more than six figures! Right then and there, planetMitch dreamed about doing the same thing.
September 2008 rolled around, and Canon announced this new version of the incredible 5D — the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. It was the first Canon DSLR to shoot full HD video and the earth moved! (It really was a huge deal in the photography world.) planetMitch knew if there was ever a chance to ride a wave of something he was really passionate about, this was it — and the blog at was born. It is now one of the most popular HDSLR blogs on the planet, and he is making a full-time living from blogging. He couldn’t be happier!
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