Filmmaking Tutorials - Chapter 3D: Zoom Lenses

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Chapter 3D: Zoom Lenses

Zoom lenses are most of the time worse than Prime lenses in terms of image quality. The really good ones are very expensive. On top of that, most of them will change variable aperture setting depending on the focal length. That's not good for filmmaking, unless you want a particular effect. For example, most kit lenses (the lens that will come with most consumer DSLR cameras) are 18-55mm F3.5-5.6. What this aperture setting means is that at its widest (18mm) the lens will have a maximum aperture of F3.5, and at its longest focal distance (55mm) it will have a maximum aperture of F5.6. In other words, the image will become darker the more you zoom in. The lenses I will be suggesting for you in this article, won't have variable aperture, which is great for filmmaking.

So, are they any good?

They are great in what they do best, change the focal length gradually. Slowly zooming in a shot can create a sense of intimacy with our objective. Check out this example from Stanley Kubrick's "The Shinning":

A fast zoom can give the audience a sense of surprise and shock. Check out this example from Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained":

Lens Suggestions

Legacy lenses (fancy word to say old) offer incredible bang for the buck! Most of them will have fixed aperture, which is great. Now I will share with you some of the cheapest zoom lenses that you can find online:

Vivitar 35-85mm F2.8 Series 1 - FD Mount (Only works with Micro 4/3 and Sony Nex cameras) - Price: US$ 59.00

Soligor 78-210mm F3.5 - FD Mount (Only works with Micro 4/3 and Sony Nex cameras) - Price: US$ 35.00


Soligor 90-230mm F4.5 - M42 Mount - Price: US$ 19.00

Hope this will give you an idea of what to look for when considering buying your zoom lenses. Thank you for reading and don't forget to write in the comments if you got any questions!

Also check out the past articles on this series:

Filmmaking Tutorials: Chapter 1 - Getting Geared Up For Less Than US$ 700.00!

Filmmaking Tutorials: Chapter 2 - Sensors Explained

Filmmaking Tutorials: Chapter 3A - Wide-Angle Lens

Filmmaking Tutorials: Chapter 3B - Normal Lenses

Filmmaking Tutorials: Chapter 3C - Telephoto Lenses

Filmmaking Tutorials: Chapter 3D: Zoom Lenses

About the author


Alejandro Hiraldo is a composer and filmmaker from the Dominican Republic. Has composed music for a variety of projects over the last 10+ years and has written and directed several award winning short-films. In 2011 he created his first solo album "Más Allá". In 2012 he unleashed his love for…

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