The Medium Camera Shot:
What It Is and How You Can Use It!

Basic Camera Shots – The Medium Shot

The medium camera shot comes in different sizes depending on what videographer or filmmaker you're talking to at the moment (laugh)...!

Here is my definition...!


In film and video production the medium camera shot can frame the subject anywhere from...

  • The feet on up...
  • The knees on up...
  • The waist on up...

Well... That's a pretty broad area to say the least! Lots of leeway… And lots of opportunity for confusion about just where this shot is framed.

So… what I will try to do here is just give you my  interpretation of it and leave it at that.

Medium camera shot

After you've worked with this shot a lot I'm sure you'll come up with your own definition too (smile)!

So... Here we go...

Definition of Medium Camera Shot

My definition of a Medium Shot is...

  "A mid-length view (from just below the waist on up) of a person or subject."

What You Want the Audience to See When You Use the Medium Shot…

Mid-length shot

Mid-shot (interview)

Mid-length view shot

Waist shot (movie scene)

It is basically what you would see if you are standing there talking to the person. This shot (in my definition) is also called a waist shot  or mid-shot.

This shot is good for showing facial expressions but, also works well in showing the body language of the subject as they are usually far enough away so that you can show the arms and some part of the legs.

This shot is preferred in an interview if the person is animated with their movements. With the medium shot you can still show facial expressions while being far enough back so that the audience can still see the subject in action.

Gary Grant mid shot

Medium shot (facial expression)

North by North West medium shot

Medium shot (action + emotion)

The shot is framed so that it usually only shows part of the subject in detail while still giving the impression to the viewer that you are seeing the whole subject.

It allows the audience a “connection” with the subject you are shooting while providing “space” for the subject’s movements, expressions, and gestures etc.

A Favorite Shot for Both Newscasts and Sports Action…

This type of shot works well when the intent is to deliver information to the audience such as on a newscast... Which is why television news presenters frequently use it.

Interview medium  shot

Medium shot (interview setting)

Newscaster mid-shot

Medium shot (newscast setting)

In news footage you will often see a shot sequence beginning with a mid-shot that provides general information on the scene and subject followed by closer shots to provide information about the subject's reactions and emotions.

Sports Mid-shot

Mid-shot (sports action)

Sports medium shot

Mid-shot (sports emotion)

This type of shot is also used to good effect in shooting sporting events to show action and emotion.

The Medium Camera Shot Is the Most Used (and Overused ) Shot in Movies, TV and Videos…

About 50% of all shots in a normal video, TV program or movie are medium shots. This shot is easily overused especially if you're shooting with just one camera.

The median camera shot – most used and overused shot

You have to be careful as overusing this type of camera shot can make your video or film monotonous and visually boring to your audience...

You don't want to do that!

Another reason to be careful with its use is that since it is in-between a long shot and a close-up shot it doesn't show as much detail as you may want and there's also more background to contend with in the frame.

If you want to show the subjects emotion it's better to stick with the close-up shot or if you want to orient the audience as to location it's better to go to a long (or at least longer) shot.


So… Just a Couple of Tips on Using The Medium Camera Shot…

Using the Medium Camera Shot Tip #1

 * When using lots of mid-shots, be sure to "inter-cut" with other types of basic camera shots such as Long shots and Close ups to keep your audience interested and involved and…

Using the Medium Camera Shot tip #2

* Be sure to use proper framing and frame the subject so that you don't cut him off at the joints (ankles, knees, wrists, elbows etc.).

So... However you frame your medium shot (smile)...

Wedding Mid-shot

Just keep the above things in mind and you should be okay when you use it…

And believe me... you will use it a lot...!

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Have fun...!  Dan

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