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This weekly course covers the most common questions videographers encounter when shooting and editing with DSLR cameras, from choosing a frame size and frame rate to understanding moiré. Authors Rich Harrington and Robbie Carman will also help you understand the impacts of compression and the difference between cropped (or micro 4/3rds) and full-sized sensors in cameras, and much more. This continual FAQ guide is a handy way to find the answers to the questions that plague you the most.
Robbie Carman: Okay Rich, now that we've talked about some of the benefits of prime lenses, one other thing that's going to happen to you when you go online, or go into the camera store and start shopping for prime lenses, is that you're going to go, whoa! These are pretty expensive lenses, and in some cases they're actually more expensive than zoom lenses. Richard Harrington: Well, it really just depends, because if you are going for that insane 0.9 lens you talked about, it's going to be a lot more expensive than a 1.8 lens, and not just maybe twice as much expensive, maybe three, four times as much expensive.
Robbie Carman: Yeah, so as you get to that maximum aperture value, that lower number, that means dollars, most of the time. Richard Harrington: Yeah. It's kind of like a sports car, right? Like there are only so many people who are going to buy the Lamborghini, so they could charge more, and that's part of it. They just don't make as many. On the flipside though, you could find incredibly, and I mean incredibly affordable prime lenses too, right? Robbie Carman: Yeah, absolutely! I am willing to bet you have a pawn shop or a camera store near you, and a lot of times those places will sell used lenses, and it's one of those things where, I think we're both guilty of this, is that we like the newest and the latest and greatest, but that doesn't mean that you can't find outstanding image quality with even used lenses.
And for example, we have a couple of lenses; I think you're holding one right there. Richard Harrington: Yeah. Robbie Carman: And an older style Nikon lens that you found for pretty cheap. Richard Harrington: This particular lens here, really, really affordable. This is a 2.8, it's an older type lens, like Rob mentioned, it is a Nikon lens, but they make adapter rings, so you can put this on a Canon. The big thing here to realize, they have totally manual controls, so unlike having to rely upon the camera to change the f-stop, you have a physical ring. A lot of people like that. They even go as far as declicking it. So instead of only having certain values, you can get those in between values, and notice there, as we change that, how it really opens up and changes the size of how much light is coming in.
Another nice thing on these older prime lenses is that the focus ring generally has a giant rotation. Now the reason why this is is that modern lenses, they want that really fast auto-focus, when you hit the plunger, it just goes, chk, chk, and locks in. These older prime lenses they may rotate for three fourths or even more of the barrel which makes manually focusing or rack focusing, so much easier. Robbie Carman: This is true. Now with that said Rich, if you don't want to go out and buy used lenses, you can find some pretty affordable lenses out there on the market.
For example, both Canon and Nikon make what I refer to as the nifty 50s. These are 50 millimeter prime lenses usually an aperture value of 1.8, and they can be had for around $100, depending on where you go. Now Rich, of course, when it comes to prime lenses, the sky really is the limit. Richard Harrington: Well, yeah, you did mention these are cheap lenses. I would definitely pick up a 50 or 35 millimeter for your kit. These are nice, they're affordable, the 1.8s are perfectly reasonable to have. I did step up in this case and I have an 85 millimeter here. I consider this sort of a portrait lens.
The nice thing about the 85 millimeter is it allows me to get little bit closer to my subject without putting the camera right in their face, so I love this for an interview lens, particularly from a little further back. It's nice because it can compress the action. Of course, a lens like this, this one is a Sigma, you are getting into the thousand dollar range, but it wouldn't be video if it didn't go up from there, right Rob? Rob Carman: Well right, and that was kind of my point, is that the photography lenses, 1.2 lens maybe around $2,000 to $2,500, but if you want to go to even a cinema style lens for example, those made by companies like Zeiss and Cooke and others, you're talking some big bucks, but those big bucks come with, I think in my opinion, three really important things.
First is image quality. These are some of the best lens manufacturers in the world and the quality of the lenses is outstanding, including the build quality and the controls. Second, on traditional photography lenses, modern photography lenses, we do find most of the controls are electronic, on the actual camera body itself. These lenses have a lot of manual control directly on the lens, which makes adjusting the aperture and things like that much, much easier, and the other thing that these sort of dedicated cinema lenses have is they often have multiple mounts, and what I mean by that is that they can work with say a Canon camera or a Nikon camera, or even with cinema style cameras that use PL mounts.
Now it's beyond the topic today to talk about different types of mounts, but that is nice. If you find a lens that you really, really, really like, often times you can use that lens on different camera mount systems. Richard Harrington: Yeah and what this really is saying is that you get great flexibility. So if you're investing in some of these more expensive cinema prime lenses, they're going to work with your DSLR. They're going to work with some of the other cameras that are out there, Micro Four Thirds type cameras, big chip cameras, like the Panasonic, Red, Alexa; you're really making an investment.
And what this also means is that these lenses can often be had at a reasonable price as a rental item. Remember, you don't have to buy everything. You can go ahead and rent a prime lens for your shoot or rent a whole kit of prime lenses, often for just a few hundred dollars for the day. So this is a nice way to really extend the quality and the look of your production. So I think people have a good idea on prime lenses. Just to summarize, those major benefits are going to the low light performance, as well as control over depth of field, and one of my favorite features, the fact that the f-stop doesn't change while shooting, just greater consistency, really that's cinema control.
Robbie Carman: Absolutely! Richard Harrington: Great! We'll be back in another week with some more tips for you. Be sure to tune in then.
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