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Pro Video Tips
Illustration by John Hersey

Pro Video Tips

with Anthony Q. Artis

Video: Choosing between prime, servo, and manual zoom lenses

So in this movie, I want to compare manual zoom lenses, servo zoom lenses, and These are also, more expensive and they're generally So let's just take a quick look at the general pros and Now, prime lenses are, more affordable.
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  1. 8m 36s
    1. Choosing between prime, servo, and manual zoom lenses
      5m 19s
    2. Running and gunning with prime lenses
      3m 17s
  2. 2m 8s
    1. Intro to Pro Video Tips
      2m 8s
  3. 17m 27s
    1. Controlling reflections in glass
      4m 7s
    2. Managing color with polarizers
      2m 32s
    3. Using a polarizer to adjust skin tones
      2m 0s
    4. Using polarizers when shooting landscapes
      4m 42s
    5. Ten polarizer tips
      4m 6s
  4. 14m 34s
    1. Supplies to get to hide lav mics
      2m 13s
    2. Hiding lavs in collars
      5m 16s
    3. Hiding mics in hair
      2m 17s
    4. Hiding mics in sheer tops
      2m 40s
    5. Hiding transmitter packs on talent
      2m 8s
  5. 34m 25s
    1. Canon C100 overview
      11m 33s
    2. Looking at the Atomos Ninja
      12m 20s
    3. Checking out the C100 menu options
      10m 32s
  6. 10m 28s
    1. Ten tips for set safety
      10m 28s
  7. 9m 18s
    1. Packing a truck
      9m 18s
  8. 19m 24s
    1. Putting together your lens kit
      1m 0s
    2. Normal lenses
      1m 54s
    3. Wide lenses
      3m 5s
    4. Ultra-wide and fish-eye lenses
      2m 53s
    5. Telephoto lenses
      4m 53s
    6. Super zooms
      2m 54s
    7. Macro lenses
      2m 45s
  9. 17m 22s
    1. The importance of exposure
      1m 31s
    2. Using waveforms
      5m 3s
    3. Using histograms
      6m 53s
    4. Using zebra stripes
      3m 55s
  10. 10m 20s
    1. Shutter speed overview
      3m 18s
    2. Different ways to use shutter speed
      7m 2s
  11. 10m 29s
    1. Tips for keeping your budget down
      10m 29s
  12. 10m 11s
    1. Working with batteries
      10m 11s
  13. 24m 39s
    1. External audio settings
      4m 2s
    2. Audio input menus
      9m 31s
    3. Audio output menus
      4m 6s
    4. Setting and monitoring your levels
      7m 0s
  14. 16m 33s
    1. Introduction to backlight
      1m 18s
    2. Types of backlight
      3m 51s
    3. Exposing for backlit shots
      5m 31s
    4. Backlighting translucent object
      1m 39s
    5. Avoiding lens flare and wash out
      4m 14s
  15. 13m 28s
    1. Booming techniques
      13m 28s
  16. 5m 42s
    1. Feeding your crew
      5m 42s

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Pro Video Tips
3h 45m Appropriate for all Apr 15, 2014 Updated Jul 22, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Pro Video Tips is designed for busy videographers like you. This series brings you a new tip every week, on everything from controlling reflections to hiding mics. Host Anthony Q. Artis covers shooting techniques for particular video challenges like portraits, tools to help you control light and judge exposure, and advice for the traveling videographer, such as putting together a great lens kit or packing a truck. Come back every Tuesday for a new round of tips.

Video Shooting Video
Anthony Q. Artis

Choosing between prime, servo, and manual zoom lenses

So in this movie, I want to compare manual zoom lenses, servo zoom lenses, and prime lenses, and talk about some of the practical considerations of shooting with each. So let's start off with prime lenses. Prime lenses, of course are any lens that has a fixed focal length, 35 millimeter, 50 millimeter or 85 millimeter lenses are all popular choices for prime lenses. Now, what's great about prime lenses is that they're really fast, in other words, good in low light.

They're also pretty light weight and they look gorgeous. And for the price, they can't be beat. It's one of the least expensive, highest quality type of lenses that you can get. However, the one big limitation to prime lenses is that they require you to keep changing lenses or to move the camera if you want to recompose your shot, since they have fixed focal lengths. So you can shoot a close up, medium, or wide shot with any prime lens. You just have to move the camera to recompose the shot. Now, zoom lenses on the other hand, allow you to get all up in there without having to keep moving the camera.

My personal preference and most unpredictable running gun cases, is for a good zoom lens with a decent range, that doesn't suck up too much light. Now as I've said before, I've long been a big fan of the convenience, smoothness, and speed of shooting with the servo zoom on a fixed lens camera like the Sony EX1 or this Panasonic HPX17. But, when I recently decided to move up to the Canon C100, I had to give up my precious servo zoom motor.

For the more valuable ability to swap out lenses, shoot with prime lenses, and have the option, whenever the budget allowed, to rent top of the line cinema lenses, which offer the absolute best image quality available. The budget doesn't allow as often as I'd like. But to be clear, I only had to give up, my smooth server zoom motor. You can still use zoom lenses with interchangeable lens cameras, of course, you'll just be shooting, on manual zooms. Not motorized zoom lenses. While they don't have servo motors, manual zooms like this one, are still generally preferable to prime lenses for fast paced documentary shooting, or you may still prefer a zoom for narrative work any time you just have a low budget limited crew, or just don't have the time to keep moving the camera and swapping out lenses.

The obvious advantage of a zoom whether you're talking servos or manual zooms for documentary work is that it's faster to change compositions, and it doesn't require nearly as much hustle to get a series of close ups, mediums and wide shots in a short period of time so you can get. A lot of coverage and a little bit of time using the zoom lens. However, one downside to zoom lenses are that they generally tend to be heavier. This thing here is about eight pounds so I could probably do a couple of reps and I'd put on a little bulk before the end of this tutorial. These are also, more expensive and they're generally not as good in the light as prime lenses.

So, I think zooms versus primes is really just a matter of personal preference. It's going to vary by style, by stamina, and by subject matter. But, it doesn't at all have to be an either/or choice. If there's enough breaks in the action, I'll often use both zooms and prime lenses before the day is out, or, I'll freely switch back and forth as the situation, or shot dictates, at the particular time. So let's just take a quick look at the general pros and cons of each type of lens, starting off with the servo zooms.

Now, Servo Zooms are going to offer quicker framing, they're going to be smoother, and a big plus is that, in many cameras, you can adjust the exact speed to where you want it. The downside of servo zooms is that they are generally only available for fixed lens prosumer cameras or high-end big-budget ENG cameras. Also, servo zoom lenses on these fixed lens prosumer cameras, generally don't tend to be of the highest quality. They aren't bad. They just aren't, of the highest quality. And they can also be a little heavier.

Now when it comes to manual zooms, the big pro of manual zooms is you can frame shots a lot quicker than you can with primes. Also, manual zooms generally offer higher quality glass so you can get better optics in a manual zoom than you can with the servo zooms that come with tha pros from the cameras. The. The downside is that they're not as smooth and the speed is controlled manually and they're also more expensive. And, as I said before, they tend to be a lot heavier, which I think is one of the biggest downsides. I don't think I would want this on a handheld camera for a long day of shooting.

Now, prime lenses are, more affordable. They also are faster as in their better with low light and they tend to be more light weight. The only real downside to prime lenses is that they're just a little less versatile because you had to switch them out to change compositions or move the camera. So, regardless of what type of work you do or what camera you shoot with, what I think is most important is that you understand the technical, aesthetic and practical limitations and advantages of each type of lens and think it through, before you shoot.

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