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10 Most Important Things to Know About Lenses

10 Most Important Things to Know About Lenses

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Published by: api-3738209 on Oct 15, 2008
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10 most important things to know about lenses

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1. When selecting a lens, make sure it fits your camera. Not all lenses fit all cameras. Even if you change to a newer model of the same manufacturer's camera, the old lens might not work. If the lens has electric zoom, iris, and maybe focus, these functions may be powered and controlled by a multi-wire cable that connects between the lens and the camera. Getting the right signals and voltages from the camera to the lens is a tricky matter. Make sure that your dealer guarantees that the lens you've selected can be adapted to the camera you are using. Years ago most cameras and lenses had "C-mounts" having a certain size hole and a certain size threads so that any lens would fit any camera. Now there are several kinds of mounts, some of them proprietary to certain manufacturers. Mounting one type of lens to another type of camera is often possible with an adapter, if one is available. Lenses are designed to make a certain size picture. Cameras have various sized sensor chips. The two must be matched so that the diameter of the image equals the diagonal size of the active pickup area. Since cameras now come with 1/4", 1/3", 1/2", and 2/3" chips, the lenses need to be sized accordingly. If the lens' image is smaller than the chip, you will see vignetting, a dark shadow around the edges of the picture, especially in the corners. If the lens makes a bigger picture than the camera needs, the lens will work but the image will appear magnified. If you have a real nice lens that you don't want to waste, you may find it possible to live with the latter situation; just zoom your picture out more than you normally would, and enjoy the fact that you can zoom in tighter than you ever could before.
http://videoexpert.home.att.net/artic1/225blens.htm 09/11/2004 07:42:42 AM

10 most important things to know about lenses

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Most non-professional camcorders come with built-in lenses; you have no choice but to accept what they give you. The Canon L1 and L2 are the most notable exceptions, as these cameras have a VL lens mount which can accept other Canon lenses, even lenses from 35mm still cameras. Canon makes a wide selection of lenses to meet even the most unusual needs. Professional cameras, on the other hand, come without lenses, (and their published prices don't include the lens) and the lenses may cost from $1000 to several thousand dollars each. 2. Buy a plain glass or UV (ultra violet), or skylight filter for your lens. The filter barely changes the look of your image, but protects the outside of your expensive camera lens from fingerprints, dust, salt spray, water, sandblasts, flying watermelon seeds, and other hazards. These attachments thread onto the outside of your existing lens (perhaps you take your lens hood off first and reattach it to the outside of the filter) and can be removed easily for cleaning. Many videographers then furlough their lens cap (it's usually dangling by a string, flopping in the breeze, or otherwise in the way) allowing their UV filter to protect their lens. This also saves ENG camera operators from taking extra time to uncap their lens. Ambient light entering a chip camera lens while the camera is off will not damage anything unless the camera is aimed directly at the sun or some other bright light for a while. 3. For most ENG and EFP work, get a lens with a 10x zoom ratio or more. The broad zoom ratio will permit you the flexibility of shooting in caves or hotel rooms (where you need a super wide shot), or zooming to supertelephoto to catch the raging bull from a comfortable 100 meters away. Lenses are described by focal length, usually telling you the lens' widest image angle and the zoom ratio (ratio between the lens' widest and narrowest angle). The focal length measured in millimeters is number derived from a mathematical formula. The bigger the number, the more telephoto the lens. 4. For motorized zooms, check the variable zoom rate. Some zooms work at only one speed, usually not the speed you like. Others may have two speeds, better but not stellar. The best lenses have variable speed motors operated by rocker switchers that allow you to nudge the picture slowly or to swoop it in quickly. 5. Try to get macro and telephoto extenders built-in. Lenses having a macro feature are able to disengage their normal zoom and focus
http://videoexpert.home.att.net/artic1/225blens.htm 09/11/2004 07:42:42 AM

10 most important things to know about lenses

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functions, and become "close-up" lenses able to fill the screen with a postage stamp. Built-in lens extenders may allow you to multiply a zoom lens's focal length by 1.5 or perhaps .8, making the entire lens act more telephoto or more wide-angle than normal while still maintaining zoom capability. For instance, with a 1.5X feature engaged, your 10 100mm zoom lens will act like a 15 - 150mm telescope, allowing you to view birds, and sports action from afar. With the wide angle function engaged, you can shoot more easily indoors or inside a vehicle. 6. The higher priced lenses generally will create less picture distortion. High quality lenses correct chromatic abberations. Aim a good lens at a distant point of light and you should see a white dot. The dot should remain white even if it is in the corner of your picture. Cheaper lenses have trouble in these corners allowing the white dot to turn into a dot with a blue and red fringe. Internal reflection is another problem with inexpensive lenses. The light comes in, bounces around between the glass and ends up creating multiple highlights. This is especially noticeable when you are shooting bright objects with dark backgrounds. Cheap lenses can make a sharp image in the center of your picture, but it takes a high quality lens to maintain the sharp image out to the corners of the picture. Straight lines should always remain straight. Barrel distortions in the lens would cause the image of a Tic Tac Toe board to bulge outward in the middle. Pincushion distortions would cause the board to squeeze inward. These distortions are most noticeable when shooting wide angle shots of skyscrapers. 7. The faster the lens the better. The "speed" of a lens represents how much light is allowed through it. The most efficient "faster" lenses have low f numbers. Team a sensitive camera with a fast lens and you will be able to shoot in minimal light. 8. If you shoot in humid climates, keep your camera and lens sealed tightly in a box. Let the two warm up to outside temperatures (preferably within a sealed plastic bag so that condensation forms on the BAG, not on the LENS or CAMCORDER) before you use them to avoid condensation forming on your gear. If dampness gets inside your lens, fungus starts to grow and it nearly impossible
http://videoexpert.home.att.net/artic1/225blens.htm 09/11/2004 07:42:42 AM

10 most important things to know about lenses

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to remove. 9. The second most important lens attachment to buy is a polarizing filter. This filter reduces glare and shine, darkens hazy blue skies, allows you to shoot through glass windows or through a pond's surface. A polarizing filter has to be rotated to the right position in order to work correctly. If your lens turns while it focuses, the attachment may also turn, messing up your polarization; you may need to hold the polarizing filter still while the rest of the lens rotates. Cokin and others sell polarizing filters that slip into a holder that remains stationary even though the lens turns. These holders (sometimes called matte boxes) also have other advantages: you can buy numerous glass filters and drop them into the holder, even teaming the filters up for special effects. Because each filter is simply a square of glass that drops into the slot in your filter holder, they are less expensive than the ones mounted in their own threaded retaining rings. 10. Avoid zooming. Amateurs zoom a lot, thinking the motion in the picture is intriguing. The pros know better; if they want motion, they move the camera.
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