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Author Topic: Q: which focal length for movies ?  (Read 5376 times)

sulla

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Q: which focal length for movies ?
« on: October 21, 2013, 02:07:02 PM »
Hi Everyone!

I've got a question: I've never shot video before, but I would like to start doing so, for the beginning without a rack or any specialised equipment, really mainly to try it to see whether I like it and have talent, or rather not.

I understand that I'll want a stabilised lens for this, but I don't have one at the moment (except my 70-200, which is - I presume - not an ideal lens for video). I also understand that one should preferably not zoom during video.

My question is: Is there a recommended "natural looking" focal length for an FF body, that would be a good choice for general purpose video?

I consider the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM for this, as it would also complement my existing set of lenses nicely (much better than the 24/28mm 2.8 IS ones) and gets some decent reviews - for photography.
Or should I just start with my 24-70, accept shakey movies at the beginning and see which focal length works best for me and decide on which IS-lens afterwards?

Any thoughts would be appreciated,
Sulla
5D & EF 8-15, EF 16-35 2.8 II, EF 24 1.4 II, EF 24-70 2.8 II, EF 35 1.4 II, EF 40, MP-E 65 Macro, EF 85 1.2 II, TS-E 90, EF 100 L Macro, EF 70-200 2.8 II

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Q: which focal length for movies ?
« on: October 21, 2013, 02:07:02 PM »

sjschall

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2013, 02:20:33 PM »
Great question. I've been shooting video on DLSR for 3 years. IS is one way to stabilize, but you can use non-IS lenses if you have, for example, a tripod, monopod, steady hand, or other stabilizer. You'll find video is remarkably similar to stills as far as creative framing, focusing, and exposure. The 35 f2 IS is a great lens for video. Many people will recommend a prime (or a couple primes) in the 30-50mm range for your "standard" field of view, but you can do whatever you want.

When I'm looking into certain lenses I'll go on vimeo or youtube and there's usually someone who's already tested it for video on their DSLR who has posted samples, which is a great way to get an idea of that lens. Have fun

mrzero

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2013, 03:18:37 PM »
The best video stabilizer is a tripod.  IS is not going to save you from shakey video, it will only minimize it.  If you want to get a tripod that is good for video, look for something heavy, with a fluid head for pan and tilt.  You don't want a ball head.  The fluid head will allow you to make sweeping pans and tilts with a smooth motion, and the resistance can be adjusted on the fly to get your motion right.

After you've been successful with that, then start looking into handheld.  IS will be helpful then.  I don't have much experience with DSLR video (primarily used dedicated video cams), but this is where shoulder "rigs" become helpful. 

User paul13walnut5 on here does a lot of video, from what I've read.  See if he's posted any recommendations before, and I am betting his advice will be sound.
Canon 6d, t1i, 24-70/4L, 20/2.8, 28/1.8, 40/2.8, 50/1.8II, 100/2.8 macro, 70-300/4-5.6, g1x, 430exII, 90ex
Elan 7N with 28-105/3.5-4.5II, Rebel G with 35-70/3.5-4.5, A-1 with 28/2.8, 50/1.8, and 135/3.5

cayenne

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2013, 03:38:17 PM »
Hi Everyone!

I've got a question: I've never shot video before, but I would like to start doing so, for the beginning without a rack or any specialised equipment, really mainly to try it to see whether I like it and have talent, or rather not.

I understand that I'll want a stabilised lens for this, but I don't have one at the moment (except my 70-200, which is - I presume - not an ideal lens for video). I also understand that one should preferably not zoom during video.

My question is: Is there a recommended "natural looking" focal length for an FF body, that would be a good choice for general purpose video?

I consider the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM for this, as it would also complement my existing set of lenses nicely (much better than the 24/28mm 2.8 IS ones) and gets some decent reviews - for photography.
Or should I just start with my 24-70, accept shakey movies at the beginning and see which focal length works best for me and decide on which IS-lens afterwards?

Any thoughts would be appreciated,
Sulla

I've been dabbling in video with my 5D3 for awhile now. In fact, I bought my first DSLR, the 5D3 with video primarily in mind.....but I've now fallen in love with stills too.

That being said...my kit lens for many of my cooking videos, has turned into the workhorse of my lenses...the 24-105mm L which has IS. I also use my 17-40L lens too.

That being said, I did a local charity shoot last month:

http://www.creativitycollective.com/bridalcrawl.html

This involved shots moving around in various places...many of them during the crawl were in dark bars.
I rented the Canon 50mm f/1.2...and it worked GREAT on the camera with a mono-pod. In the dark rooms, that f/1.2 really acted like someone turned the lights on...amazing.

I ended also using my favorite cheap lens...the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8.  I actually got some good shots with it with people walking and using my partially extended monopod as a sort of make-shift steady cam...but for tight shots and dark areas...it made for some good footage too.

It will depend on what you shooting and where....fast glass for dark situations.

If you can control situations..my main advice....set ALL lights to the same color temperature!!!

I do some cooking vids...and life became so much better when I finally swapped out all the bulbs on my practical lights and my 'studio' lights to the same temperature in Kelvin.   

I also find I use one of the Expo Disks...to make sure I get the white balance set too....

Hope this rambling bit helps some...?

cayenne

sulla

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2013, 03:51:36 PM »
Thanx for your insights! All right, sounds reasonable.
I'll rather get a video head than another lens, I guess (and it's even cheaper). Or a monopod. Still thinking on it.
5D & EF 8-15, EF 16-35 2.8 II, EF 24 1.4 II, EF 24-70 2.8 II, EF 35 1.4 II, EF 40, MP-E 65 Macro, EF 85 1.2 II, TS-E 90, EF 100 L Macro, EF 70-200 2.8 II

David_in_Seattle

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2013, 04:19:36 PM »
Hi Everyone!

I've got a question: I've never shot video before, but I would like to start doing so, for the beginning without a rack or any specialised equipment, really mainly to try it to see whether I like it and have talent, or rather not.

I understand that I'll want a stabilised lens for this, but I don't have one at the moment (except my 70-200, which is - I presume - not an ideal lens for video). I also understand that one should preferably not zoom during video.

My question is: Is there a recommended "natural looking" focal length for an FF body, that would be a good choice for general purpose video?

I consider the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM for this, as it would also complement my existing set of lenses nicely (much better than the 24/28mm 2.8 IS ones) and gets some decent reviews - for photography.
Or should I just start with my 24-70, accept shakey movies at the beginning and see which focal length works best for me and decide on which IS-lens afterwards?

Any thoughts would be appreciated,
Sulla

As mentioned earlier, there are other ways of stabilizing a camera without an IS lens.  That said, I recommend starting out with your 24-70.  If it's the v1 lens it may be a bit cumbersome because it's a reverse focal lens.  It's also pretty heavy.

If you want a good general purpose lens with IS then the 24-105 f4 L IS lor the 24-70 f4 L IS lenses are great options.   I recommend renting either one to see if it suits your needs.

Similar to photography, the type of subjects and events you record will heavily impact your future lens and equipment choice.

Here are a few tips I've learned over the years:
  • Lens choice will largely depend on the type of video project, available light, and personal style
  • Since you're just starting out, keep things simple.  In most cases all you'll need is a decent lens, camera, external mic, and maybe a tripod.  Don't get caught up with external lights and multiple camera setups until you're very familiar with the basics.
  • Video equipment can quickly balloon in cost so before buying anything it's probably a good idea to rent it.
  • While DSLRs are known for their shallow depth of field, remember the limitations of recording at a wide open aperture (wider than f/4).  At 35mm f/2 the subject can easily step out of focus by shifting their body forward or back.
David Cuerpo, Jr. | Media Producer | Expedia Inc.
Cameras: Canon 1Dx, 5Dmk3, 60D, Sony a7mk2, a7s, FS7
Lenses: 8-15 Fisheye, 16-35 f2.8, 17-55 f2.8 IS, 24-70 f2.8 v2, 17 TSE, 24 TSE, 50 f1.2, 85 f1.2, 90 TSE, 100 f2.8 IS, 70-200 f2.8 IS v2, 200 f2 IS, 300 f2.8 IS

cayenne

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 05:11:09 PM »
I got this monopod:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003YM04NO/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I decided to use this plate system, so bought this head for my slider and my tripod too:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005ZMWSGC/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The Rode Videomics are GREAT too for audio...slides in the hotshoe...I have both the original Videomic, and the newer stereo mic.

Rode Videomic  (nice shotgun mic really picks up direction sound well):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0007U9SOC/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I picked up the Stereo Video mic too, due to deal that gave a free copy of Pluraleyes3, but I've not tried the mic out yet:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007HYVMY0/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I also picked up the Rode cheap lavalier that plugs into Ipod or iPhone...but I've not tried it yet:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00BHN05H2/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Starting out...you DO want to get audio external to the camera's built in mic. I have had great success starting with the Rode Video mic...I'd recommend starting with that.

I've had great luck getting white balance for scenes using the simple ExpoDisc:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0002GFOSU/ref=wms_ohs_product?ie=UTF8&psc=1

With this...switch to stills pics on the camera, turn off AF, and take a properly exposed pic (preferrably aiming BACK to where you'll be shooting from)...and set your custom white balance to this image...has proven to be a big help to me, especially if run and gunning.

Oh...and let me throw this link to you on that 14mm lens. It is VERY wide, but I've had great results on it from video:

http://www.amazon.com/Rokinon-FE14M-C-Ultra-Canon-Black/dp/B003VSGQPG/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1382389663&sr=1-1&keywords=rokinon+14mm+f2.8

Keep your eye out..I got mine for about $240 or so with a Groupon discount I found out about here on the forums about a year ago.

Do you have the 24-105mm L kit lens that came with the 5D3 or did you buy body only?
What lenses do you have?

I recently found a bunch of my Dad's old Nikon lenses, all manual, and got an adapter and am planning to experiment with video on those. Not a big problem on tripod or mono pod shots without IS...and since you have to manual focus video, not a bit deal that they're MF lenses...so, there are some cheap alternatives to be hand out there.

But I still gotta say...that Canon 50mm f/1.2 L lens sure rocked when I rented it, and I'm saving to buy one.

I'm renting the 85mm f/1.2 weekend after next to shoot mostly stills at VooDoo Fest here in New Orleans, but I'll likely experiment a little with it with video too.

HTH,

cayenne

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #6 on: October 21, 2013, 05:11:09 PM »

Mt Spokane Photography

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2013, 10:56:46 PM »
It all depends on what you are making a video for, and the subject.  There are some very good training courses online, you really should spend some time to view them.
Stabilized lenses are a compromise and perhaps useful in some circumstances, but a proper tripod and head is the standard.  There is no such thing as too much money for accessories, so figure 5-10X the cost of your camera for starters.  Sound is a major part of video making, some say 50%, so prepare to get good sound equipment, then lighting, then tripod, lenses, the list is pretty much endless.
 
That's why you should view some of the online courses and determine just where you want to go, and plan out those $5K-50K of accessories.

cayenne

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2013, 01:57:52 PM »
It all depends on what you are making a video for, and the subject.  There are some very good training courses online, you really should spend some time to view them.
Stabilized lenses are a compromise and perhaps useful in some circumstances, but a proper tripod and head is the standard.  There is no such thing as too much money for accessories, so figure 5-10X the cost of your camera for starters.  Sound is a major part of video making, some say 50%, so prepare to get good sound equipment, then lighting, then tripod, lenses, the list is pretty much endless.
 
That's why you should view some of the online courses and determine just where you want to go, and plan out those $5K-50K of accessories.

Well, the nice thing is...you don't have to buy it ALL at once. You can start with pieces and buy along the way, that's what I've done.

paul13walnut5

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2013, 04:09:56 PM »
For video you can stabilise in a few ways, and in fact will want the choice.

For long lens shots a good tripod with fluid head is the only way, same goes for extended shots such as interviews.

A manfrotto 701hdv, 438 level and 190 legs are a basic, compact, solid, cheap set that will pan and tilt fairly smooth and give you a quick levelling base to shoot from.

There is nothing cheaper worth wasting any time on.

A Sachtler ACE is the king of 'budget' video tripods.  A bit more money but a well sorted kit with a head that behaves like those on $4000 tripods.

A video monopod is useful.

An SM-1 shoulder brace is good to emulate the ENG position.

There is no idea FL.

Wider is easier to stabilise.  I would say 28-35 is a good starting point.  Much wider and perspectives become unnatural.

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Re: Q: which focal length for movies ?
« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2013, 04:09:56 PM »