You are here

Improve Your Video Image Using the Best Lenses and Filters

The lens is where the magic of cinematography begin. With it you can bend light into focus, achieve great depth of field, and zoom into your subjects. We will show you the benefits of interchangeable and fixed lenses as well as what filters can do to make your video look as good as those from Hollywood.

Video Transcript

Lenses are one of the most important aspects of a video camera. Besides being the point at which light enters your camera, they can make an image clearer, help the audience to focus on an area that you desire, and can add further stabilization to your shot. With knowledge of the types of lenses your camera should have as well as the proper filters to use for every situation, you can assure that your shot starts off on the right foot

Your lens in your camera is much like a lens in an eye. They both bend light so that they can focus either short or long distances, and depending on the quality of the lens, can make an image crisp and clear. As such, it is important to make sure that you use every part well in order to make a great looking image.

One of the most common types of lenses in cameras is the fixed lens. A fixed lens is one that is built into the body of a camcorder and cannot be removed or replaced. These lenses can often be found in prosumer camcorders. They typically have high quality lenses, are more affordable, and have a smaller camera body which makes it both quick and highly mobile. However, even though they do a great job of being able to focus on objects that are both near and far, they still don't have all of the features that interchangeable lenses provide. Interchangeable lens cameras, which allow you to take one lens off and replace it quickly with another, can give you the ability to achieve a more shallow depth of field, a longer zoom length, and let in more light. Because of this, interchangeable lens cameras like HDSLRs and professional camcorders are a great choice for getting a wide variety of shots with a single camera body.

In order to capture shots of objects that are far away, a telephoto lens is needed. Telephoto lenses allow someone to be further away from the action while still being able to capture close-up shots. They usually are measured in millimeters or by how many times further they can see than the human eye. A great telephoto lens is usually anywhere from 200 to 800 mm or 10 – 20X. These kinds of lenses are used for live events and weddings as they allow a cameraperson to stay out of a shot while still being able to see the emotion on the subject's face.

On the other hand, macro lenses are lenses that can focus on objects that are very close to the camera. These lenses achieve close focus due to the shape and position of the glass in the lens. They are commonly used for close up plant and wildlife video as well as product shots as they allow a unique perspective to objects which humans typically can't see.

Lenses that can move between a wide and narrow range are known as zoom lenses. Since zoom lenses are very versatile, they are the most common type of lens found on both camcorders and HDSLRs. They don't require a constant changing of lenses or camcorders - and allow the extra dimension of revealing objects during a shot by zooming in or out. The only real drawback of zoom lenses is their tendency to lose light as the lens is zoomed into an object. This is due to the way the glass bends the light as it closes into an object. Because of this, it is often a good idea to use a camera with interchangeable lenses if you have the time to replace lenses and space to store them while shooting.

To make images look even better, or to just give your video an artistic look and feel, it can be helpful to use filters for your lenses. Filters can perform a bevy of different duties like protecting your lens, compensating for lighting, and setting moods.

By far, the most common type of lens filter is the UV filter. The UV filter, which filters out harmful UV rays from hitting your camera's sensor, are most commonly used as simple lens protectors for camcorders. They protect from dust, scratches, and cracks in the glass of a lens. Since they are less expensive to than the entire lens element itself, it is one of the most economical filters to have for your camera.

Another function of lens filters is to compensate for less than ideal lighting conditions. Some filters are used to correct the color temperature of a scene. Other filters, like the polarizing filter, are used to get rid of heavy reflections on window and water surfaces. Another filter, the gradient filter can add color and interest to clear blue skies. They do this by using a piece of glass that goes from dark to clear over the surface of the lens which also helps limit the contrast between the sky and the landscape in a shot.

Lastly, there are filters which are used in order to set a mood in a scene. These types of filters usually include the star filter, which adds light streaks to bright areas of an image, diffusion filters, which soften an image, and a multi-filter, which is usually a combination of these effects. That being said, effect filters should be used sparingly as they can be both distracting and done just as well or better in a post-production application.

The first step in a crisp and clear image always starts with a good lens. That's why it's so important to know the types of lenses you should use as well as the kinds of filters that can make them even better. With this knowledge you will be able to improve the work flow of your production and capture shots that look sharp and draw the attention of your viewers.