- Still camera lens zoom ranges are laughable by video standards, and changing lenses while recording video is not really very practical. For event videography work, I would consider an 8:1 optical zoom range to be the absolute minimum usable zoom range unless you can afford to throw several extra cameras and tripods at the problem. These days, most high-end ENG/EFP gear has 20:1 or higher optical zoom ratios. So even Canon's 28–300 lens with its 10.7:1 zoom ratio—the longest zoom ratio available in a Canon still camera lens—is considered just barely passable for ENG/EFP purposes.
- Electrically operated zooms give much cleaner results that are more likely to be usable without the need to attach long sticks to them.
Yes. The right tools for the job. Just because a 'camera system' is capable of producing a good image, doesn't mean it's a 'good camera' for what it's being used for.
Shooting an event like that is basically an ENG scenario where you need long, versatile glass because the camera needs to be away from the action and not the center of attention. If you're shooting a movie or a performance strictly for camera, you can use focal lengths like that. I shot some interviews a few days ago with my C300 and 5DIII as a reverse. 50mm on my C300 was a waist up medium shot at approx. 8' and the 85mm was medium/tight(collar bones up) after moving in a bit. The 135mm on the full-frame 5D was just slightly tighter than medium for the over-the-shoulder reverse of talent. Even 200mm, 300mm plus isn't very long on a full-frame or APSC or s35 sensor.
At the distances they should have been working, they wouldn't have had a snowballs chance in hell of being able to get the coverage they needed with a 50mm lens. You really need to be using glass in the range of our 22x(7.8-172) ENG lenses, which would work out to the FF equivalent of approx. 30mm-654mm. Flip the 2x and you're over 1300mm on the top end.