Videography Tutorial – Everything About Lenses
If you’ve seen our last videography 101 episode The Ultimate Guide to Exposure – videography 101 you know that the lens you have on your camera is 30% of the camera’s exposure.
If you haven’t seen that episode, go ahead and watch that episode now.
One of the things I remember I asked myself when I started shooting videos was what is the difference between all the lenses out there. So in this episode, we’ll try to understand lenses better.
In order to understand lenses you have to understand the different category of lenses: zoom lenses and Prime lenses.
The difference between the two is that zoom lens will zoom in and out and the prime lens will not.
Prime Lens has a fixed lens, and if you want to frame the subject differently, you will have to move around with your body. Prime lenses and Zoom lenses will differ in price and quality, and it’s not that one is better than the other. It all depends on what you’re going to do with the lens.
The other thing you need to understand about lenses are the numbers on the barrels.
The numbers refer to the focal length of the lens. The focal length of the lens is the distance between the lens and the image sensor when the subject is in focus. So the lower the numbers on the lens, the wider the field of view is and the higher the numbers are the telephoto lens.
A lens with the number 14 will be a wide angle lens and a lens with 300 will be a telephoto (zoom) lens.
The usage of the lenses will also differ as it depends on and what you want to shoot.
One thing that you have to pay attention to when using a wide angle lens with a focal length up to about 45 mm that there is some distortion to the object, making part of the object closer to the lens abnormally large.
One more thing you have to understand about lenses is that different lenses have a different aperture.
Prime lenses aperture number will usually be low, meaning the area the lens is in focus on is very small, making them the best for shooting with very shallow depth of field. Zoom lenses will usually have a higher aperture as the lens has more moving parts in it.
Another point to understand about lenses is the different lenses manufacturers will make different lenses for different levels of users.
As an example, Canon has their lower level lenses that cost less and their L series lenses (L for Luxury) and you can guess that their price is higher. Sigma has their Art series and so forth.
The pro lenses are usually sharper has a more durable build and are also more expensive.
One last point about lenses is the difference between cinema lenses and regular lenses.
Cinema Lenses are the lenses used to shoot video with.
Their barrel is most often wider in diameter whereas the photography lenses are usually narrower and with fewer numbers.
There is none with regards to the actual quality of glass and elements in the camera. The difference is only the build. The photography lens is build to be hand held and operated with one hand, and the focal length numbers are written on the top so the photographer can look glance down at them.
The cinema lenses are wider to make it easier for the focus puller (the man in charge of operating the focus), keep the subject in focus all the time with tiny increments of movement of the focus ring.
The bigger barrel of the lens makes it easier for the focus puller to pull the focus easier. The reason for more numbers on the barrels of the lens is that while shooting a movie the focus puller could stand on one right of the lens or the left of the lens and still know what he is doing.
Another difference is the option to operate the aperture from the lens itself and not from the camera.