Monday, July 23, 2012

Which Camera Lens to buy? Zoom, Prime or Cinema? The Basic Filmmaker

In this episode of The Basic Filmmaker, different types of lenses are discussed. The three main types of lenses are Zoom, Prime and Cinema. Zoom lenses are primarily cheaper than prime lenses, this is because the quality of video that is produced is not as sharp as prime lenses. Zoom lenses allow you to move in closer or further away from the subject, without actually moving the camera body or rig. Zoom lenses do not have an aperture that can be opened us as wide as most prime lenses. My first lens for my Canon DSLR was an EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5 zoom lens. The 18-135mm means at the widest angle, the lens is at 18mm and zoomed in all the way is 135mm. Prime lenses are fixed focal length, which means they cannot zoom in or out at all. This generally allows for the optics of the lens to be able to produce much sharper images or video, which means they are usually more expensive than zoom lenses. However this is not the case with the prime lens that I own, the Canon 50mm f/1.8, or the nickname 'nifty fifty' which only cost me £50 on eBay. Prime lenses can have much wider aperture, which makes them more suitable in low light situations, such as when shooting in a city at night time. I also own many other prime lenses, including the Chinon 200mm f/3.5 and the Ensinor 500mm f/8 mirror lens, which are both fairly 'zoomed in', however they are still prime lenses due to their fixed focal lengths of 200mm and 500mm. The final type of lens are cinema lenses, they are used on the big cinema rigs that are used to shoot big budget films. They are usually expensive, however if you can afford the cameras needed to use them, the lenses should be in your budget.

I have included an image of my current lens collection. It currently includes the Canon EF-S 18-135mm zoom lens as mentioned above, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II (Shown on my Canon 600D DSLR Camera), Ensinor 500mm f/8 mirror lens and the Chinon 200mm f/3.5 prime lens. Another addition to my collection is what is called a 'toy' lens. This is the Holga Pinhole lens which cost me around £11 on eBay. It has no optics, basically just a tiny pinhole which lets light into my cameras sensor. You can even make your own pinhole lens with the standard camera body caps, with a hole poked through it.

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