Like many of you, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time in front of a camera for Zoom chats. Many are with photographers with some great questions seeking advice (and like yesterday’s chat with Dave, I learned some great things in return!). A Zoom Virtual Private Tutoring from two weeks ago asked what gear I used for the Zoom because I looked so sharp and the background was so out of focus so I really popped. He asked during the Zoom chat what I was doing for lighting. Since then, two other Zoom VPTs have asked the same questions so I thought I would share my basic Zoom gear and settings.
My gear is real simple, I use a Z 6 / FTZ w/50f1.4AFS lens (rather than the computer camera). The Z 6 is connected to the MacBook Pro via Chert 4K.C HDMI card plugged into the HDMI port on the Z 6 (via HDMI cable) and USBc port on the MacBook (shows up in Zoom Video preference as Chert 4K so select it). For the sound, I simply use the MacBook mic. Lighting are two windows on my right and left. The one on the right I flag to knock down its intensity. At night, I use the Promaster Bi-LED 504B light as my light source. I try to keep it all real simple so I can duplicate it. The “trick” are the settings in the Z.
I start with the Z set to Movie Mode so I have a clean HDMI out (settings on the top and bottom of the image are removed). The camera for Zoom is set to Aperture Priority with Auto ISO taking care of exposure changed. I normally have Exp Comp set to +1/3. The WB I set manually each session otherwise (like above) I turn a bit red (settings are only good if you remember to set each one each time!). With the 50f1.4AFS set to M/A, I make sure in the Custom Settings I have #a4 set as you see above. Even though it says “eye detection doesn’t work in video mode” it seems to be working great. All I can assume is that since we’re not actually “recording” video while doing a Zoom chat, it’s working (these are just my observations). And this changes with the Z 7II / Z 6II with eye detection working with video. Lastly, I have the Z plugged in AC via the EH-5c.
Shooting with the 50f1.4AFS at f/1.4 is how I have the background all out of focus. This is a very narrow depth of focus so to keep me sharp (I move a bit when I’m talking) requires a couple of other settings. In the Movie Shooting Menu (see above), I make sure that the Focus mode is set to AF-F and the AF-area mode is set to Auto Area AF (required for face/eye detection). I have a checklist taped to the tripod I use for Zoom chats of all of these settings as I do change them when I’m shooting video. The checklist is only good if you read it and follow it which at times I’m guilty of not doing and then, like yesterday, I’m not always in focus. But that’s it’s that my basic for Zoom chats. Hope it helps you look better as you stay in touch!