Video Essentials

Choosing a DSLR Lens: Video 101

The following lesson was created by Vimeo for its Vimeo Video School. It’s used here with permission. Look for a new lesson each week.

Believe it or not, the biggest investment you’ll make when it comes to shooting video with a DSLR camera is on the lenses. When you’re starting out, you can easily shoot with just one lens and there are some easy ways to adapt different brand lenses to whatever brand camera you have.

Before we start, here are some things you need to know for this lesson:

Aperture is the size of the opening within your lens that allows light onto the image sensor. Aperture is measured by f-number or f-stops.

F-stop is a term used to describe the size of the aperture opening in your lens. The lower the F-stop number, the bigger the aperture. If the aperture is low, more light is able reach the image sensor. F-stop settings are normally displayed with a forward slash.

Common f-stops are: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22.

Kit lenses are usually sold with the camera and aren’t always the highest quality, but are better than having no lens at all! So if you have a kit lens, it’s fine to use, but it is a good idea to start saving money for nicer lenses.

It’s good to review often. Here’s a handy link to the Vimeo Glossary of Common Video Terms.

If you’re new to DSLR shooting, a good starter lens for a camera with a full frame sensor is a 50mm. If you have a camera with a cropped sensor, you’ll want to get a 30mm lens to achieve the equivalent look. Remember that a cropped sensor actually makes your field of view smaller than a full frame sensor using the same lens. Here’s the difference between a 50mm lens on a full frame vs cropped sensor.

When you buy a zoom or telephoto lens (for shooting things far away or getting extreme close up shots), be sure to get one with an image stabilizer. It will be a little more expensive, but it’s well worth it. That way when you’re shooting things from a distance like a wild bear in the forest or a Chicago Bear on a football field, your videos will look pristine!

Ready for more? Learn about DSLR accessories or view more lessons at the Vimeo Video School.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Nice illustration regarding DSLR lens choice for the beginner.


    Posted by james - | July 5, 2011, 4:21 pm
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