Set your focus
Viewfinders can be tricky and rarely should be trusted. Often, when looking through the viewfinder, your subject may appear to be in focus, but larger monitors may display the footage as "soft" or "fuzzy" – slightly out of focus. Focusing is easy. Just zoom all the way in on your subject and adjust the focus wheel until your subject comes into focus. Zoom out to the full frame again, and you'll notice that your subject looks crisper.
Mind the sound
A telltale sign of amateur video is bad audio, but it doesn't have to be. With some monitoring, you can capture listenable audio. It's as easy as putting on a set of headphones and plugging them in to your camera. This allows you to hear what your audio will sound like when played back from the camera. You'll soon discover if your camera is set up too close to the flea-bitten mutt lying near the grandfather clock because the ticking and scratching will dominate your audio.
Your audio will improve as you move (or point) the camera microphone closer to your subject. Find your audio levels and adjust them accordingly. Your ears will thank you later when you review the footage.
A few minutes of preparation will make a world of difference in your footage. Apply these pointers next time you get behind the camera, and say goodbye to amateur video. Remember, you control the quality of your footage, so take matters into your own hands and stop blaming the camera.