Behind the Glass Part 2: Focal Length

Focal length is an important aspect to keep in mind when you're deciding which lens to use to shoot your video. Different focal lengths will affect how your subjects appear in the shot and can even sway a viewer's opinion of your subjects. Watch the video to see how!

When you use different lenses, you'll notice that even if you don't move the camera, the subjects in that image get larger or smaller. The longer the lens, the more compressed your image gets meaning things in the background will appear much larger than if you were using a wide-angle lens.


  • Wide angle lens - 16mm emphasizes the foreground and de-emphasizes the background. Be careful of image distortion while using this lens.

  • Standard lens - 50mm shows the foreground and background subjects as just about the same sizes.

  • Telephoto lens - 200mm has very little depth of field and highly compresses your image.


Shooting a dialoge scen can be tricky if you don't know which lens to use. To get a natural feel in your dialoge scenes, it's best to stick to mid-range lenses that don't distort or compress your subjects too much.


  • A 11mm lens is very wide and will distort the edges of your shot. Parts of your subjects will appear exaggerated and might look cartoony.

  • A 200mm lens will make your subjects appear very close isolate them in the shot.

  • A 50mm lens shows gives your subjects room so they can be easily placed in their scene. A 50 mm lens also won't distort your subjects, so they'll stay natural looking.

PPro tip: If you want to make someone look really good, use a longer focal length. The longer the lens, the more subtle someone's facial features become and that makes for a flattering portrait.

In conclusion, not every lens is equal, but each of them can help you tell a story visually if you know how to use them. Still hungering for more lens know-how? In the final episode, Vincent and Blake teach you all about depth of field. Check it out now!

Category:
DSLR
Gear
Shooting
Difficulty:
Beginner

6 Comments

Shiply

Shiply PRO

Still very valid advice even after 3 years.

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Lesson Summary

Focal length is a critical element of lens selection. Watch and learn as Vincent teaches Blake the basics of choosing the best lenses for different scenarios.

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