Camcorder Controls: How To Use Gain

The gain feature used off your camera can be beneficial for the overall brightness of your video image in a situation where there is no control of lighting at a location. This particular setting can help boost the signals from your camera to artificially create a brighter image in a location that may not have an ideal light source. A poor light setting will result in a video image that cannot be shown and will be seen as an extremely dark image with little or no detail. With the use of gain, a video image in a low-lighting location can now be seen with great detail. Below contains the steps involved to manually apply the gain setting to your camera.

STEP 1: Reading Instructions

All cameras are both prosumer and consumer function differently, which will create various results for the use of gain. If you cannot find the gain setting on your video camera or in your instructions, then the choice of applying it is not optional.

Step 2: Activating the Gain Setting

If your video camera contains a menu setting for gain, you will need to manually activate it. This setting is usually categorized with the white balance and brightness features under the menu options. As the result of all cameras functioning differently, it is best to seek the guide of your manual if you do not see this feature under the menu selections.

Step 3: Setting the Gain Level

Once the gain feature is found, you can now specifically adjust the levels of brightness to your image. All video cameras measure the amount of gain in numerical steps or decibels. As another feature, some cameras provide specific levels such as mid gain or high gain. When applying levels, you must be cautious and not overuse this feature. An extremely high level of gain will result in a brighter picture with a low quality appearance that contains artifacts while giving an overall grainy look to the video image. When you find the right balance, the gain setting may prove to be useful in a location that does not provide enough light.

Step 4: Applying Gain

Once the level of gain is set, you can view your results through the viewfinder or LCD screen. This technique is recommended to see if the right amount of gain is applied. Always make sure there is enough gain used in which you can see the image clearly. If you start to see too much gain, then it's time to go back and adjust your settings to regulate the artifacts in order to produce a good quality video image. Always be cautious of the different lighting set-ups you may encounter while filming with your camera. If you enter into an atmosphere opposite of your initial low-light setting, your image will be overblown and too bright for your camera to pick up an image. It is best to be aware of your surroundings with different lighting set-ups while using gain. With these steps, you are now able to film in a location where little to no light is provided.