Camcorder Controls: How To Use the Iris

The iris is an aperture that controls the amount of light that comes in through the lens of a camera. The principles of the iris are the same as the human eye. When light is exposed to the eye, the pupils become small allowing a small amount of light in while allowing us to see. The opposite reaction happens when there is not enough light. Our pupils widen to allow more light in. Just like our own eyes, the iris on the camera is quite convenient when controlling the brightness of an image. As a result, this creates a quick method to adjust the correct amount of exposure seen on a video image.

STEP 1: Read the Manual

Every camera works differently so it is best to refer to your manual if you are unsure at anytime. The iris setting is beneficial to the look of your image in an instant when the exposure is not properly balanced for your subject. The iris is also beneficial in a situation when an image appears to contain a hot spot of light which washes out the color from a subject. The iris setting can fix this problem by properly portraying the proper lighting and color to the subject.

STEP 2: Checking the Presets

Once you have referred to your manual, you are now able to access your presets under your menu options. This setting is categorized with features associated with the white balance and gain settings. To manually control the iris preset, you must activate this setting by physically selecting it. As a result, manual iris permits camera users more control to tweak and adjust levels of exposure. Once the preset is selected, you are now able to adjust the levels on the iris.

STEP 3: Adjusting the Levels

Most iris adjustments are dials located near the sides or next to the record button on the video camera. In order to adjust the proper levels on the iris, you must spin the dial to correspond with the range of exposure. Each opposing direction on the dial gives you both spectrum of exposure from bright to dark. The iris levels are labeled in f-stops. A high f-stop results in a darker image. A low f-stop results in a brighter image. Once you have become familiar with the adjustment levels on the iris, you are now able to apply the levels onto your subject.

STEP 4: Apply the Levels

After you become familiar with the levels on the iris, it is now time to apply the proper levels to your video image. In order to apply the correct amount of exposure to your subject, you must first adjust your iris to the brightest level possible. Once the highest level is selected, lower your iris setting slowly while viewing the subject through the viewfinder. If your video image is over blown, the detail on your subject may be lost due to bright blown out spots. In order to find the proper exposure balance you must be aware of any over blown spots within the image. Finally, you must also make sure that the detail and colors of your image are not washed out. Once the levels are balanced, you now have a properly exposed video image.