Videography vs. Photography : Camera Lenses
Updated: Jul 16
Being a professional in both photography and videography, a lot of people ask similar questions, and I have been asked so often over the years that I figured I might as well make a quick list of lenses and reasons why I use certain ones! Note: I use Sony, but I am not sponsored by them or anything. It's just what I have and what I am rolling with currently. Second Note: I will only be covering lenses that are generally $1,000.00 or more for their brand new price. There are definitely lenses for a lot less, and lenses that I have bought and loved for less, but this is pretty much the standard starting metric for a quality lens. Which brings me to my last note! Third Note: Shop USED lenses! KEH.com and MPB.com are amazing - and you can instantly find lenses for a lot less! 1. Photography: Beginner - If you are just starting out in photography, chances are you really aren't sure what focal length you like, what size is too light, too heavy, how close or far away you like to be when working with clients (this is called working distance and it is a very real thing!) If you are brand new, I would suggest a 24-105mm f/4 Zoom Lens.
Don't let the price tag fool you! I have seen tons of these used online for $1,000.00 or less! Buy used!!!
Advantages to using a 24-105 f/4 Zoom Lens: 24 millimeters is wide. This is great for landscape shots, wide photos of a bride and groom with their whole wedding party, and 24 millimeters even works as a great two person portrait shot, showing off all of their details.
If you zoom in, 40mm to 50mm is typically the standard distance of "what your eye sees in real life." So, you can get nice photos without any distortion (which will be a more bubbled in effect with the wider distances, or bubbled out effect with the longer distances). 85 millimeters in the perfect length for most portraits and 105 millimeters is about the furthest I like to go to maintain a nice working distance. Anything farther and you start to yell a little bit, ha! Disadvantages of using a 24-105 f/4 Zoom Lens: One huge compromise. For the added flexibility, is the loss of light. The "f/4" in this lens is the aperture. Basically, a lower number for the aperture, the more light it lets in. And light can be everything! Say you have a lens that starts at "f/1.2" like this Sigma 35mm f/1.2 Prime Lens (My most used lens brand)!
A lot of people think, "If I crank my aperture up to f/4 on this lens, that is the same as a lens that starts at f/4," but that is actually wrong. It's a very common mistake, but lenses that have a lower aperture (let in more light) to start, will allow more light throughout. So, basically, the 24-105 is super flexible, but won't be great with letting in light.
2. Photography: Experienced - I won't spend as much time on this one, because if you are experienced, you probably have your own reasons and taste to buy a lens already figured out. But, just to show you an example of what I would aim for if I am a beginner, this lens:
The 70-200mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens would be great to pare with the Sigma 35mm f/1.2 Prime Lens, if you are like me. I don't mind moving around, so if I have a prime lens on, I know I can take a step back and get a little wider, or take two steps in and get a little closer.
Advantages of using a 70-200mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens: This is an amazing portrait lens. You can take pretty much any picture from a full body shot to a tight close up, and the results will be phenomenal. If you talk to your favorite portrait photographer, chances are they will have this lens or something extremely similar. At 200mm, you can create an amazing separation of your subject from your background, but is still not too heavy for me to just cary in my hand or around my neck for a short period of time, but not a full day! If you go past 200mm in size, the lenses will get heavier, possibly longer, more awkward to carry, and honestly are more for wildlife photography, which I am not that interested in.
Disadvantages of using a 70-200 f/2.8 Zoom Lens: This lens can be heavy. If you have it on or in your hand for a session, you will be fine, but if you need it as an all day lens, there will be times when you want to put it down. Also, there can be times when there just isn't enough room where you are working, and you can't get the distance of this lens to work! That's why most people would keep a wide prime lens on them just in case.
3. Video Beginner: Video is getting trickier, because as it becomes more popular, I have noticed a lot of different people take a lot of different approaches. I think for video, I will suggest either a more cost effective zoom lens, or a prime lens:
The tough thing about video, is that you have less control over your light. You have to keep your shutter speed consistent with your FPS, or your image will look off, so you don't have as many advantages as photographers do to "Crank your shutter." Advantages of using a 28-70mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens: Similar to the 24-105 f/4, you get a ton of flexibility with this lens, but you can also allow in a lot more light with the lower aperture. And, Sigma produces the best images for the best price! Advantages of using a 24mm f/1.4 Prime Lens: The two main reasons I chose this lens is because it is an anomaly, and because wider is always better. When people are watching videos, you can get by with only wide shots. Sometimes people just want to see the whole picture, and nothing too intimate or close. I have actually had a lot of clients who are upset with close-ups, because we only tend to look at our negative features, so wider is usually better. Also! The 24mm f/1.4 Prime Lens (The Sony One) - this thing is like tiny! It's great for gimbal work, for hanging around your neck work. For anything! It has an amazing image and it's so light. Most lenses of the same focal length are three times the size and have all sorts of issues. That lens is just really great, and people will watch whole films with only wide shots. Disadvantages of these: Your not getting close-ups! 4. Video Expert: The Sigma 105mm f/1.4 Prime Lens
This thing is hilariously insane in so many ways! It's huge, it's robust, it's like carrying around chunky newborn all day! BUT, it creates the coolest shots out there. 105 millimeters is the second perfect distance for portraits (85mm being the best) and the background of the photo will blow you away. It's just one of those, you-have-to-see-it-to-believe-it kind of things!
AND! My biggest bonus tip of all time because you read this far! People think you are 1000 times better with bigger lenses. It's the dumbest thing, but the truest thing. I have been making photos and videos for a long time, and there is nothing that works better than having a huge lens. Like, you can show them your work, and they will be like, "Oh, cool." But you can show them your lens and it's like, "Oh, wow!" .... And I'm just standing here scratching my head - shouldn't what I produce be what is most important? I will never understand!!! Anyways, thank you all so much for reading and I really do hope this helped! Thanks!!!