The Camcorder Zoom Lens:
The "Swiss Army Knife" of Camera Lenses!

A camcorder zoom lens can be one of the keys to successful video production as it gives you the ability to work fast and catch all the matter the distance from the subject of your shot!

Find out more on how to use them below…!

A camcorder zoom lens allows you to zoom  in and out on a subject without moving the position of the camera forward or backward. It also enables you to select any coverage within its range to frame and compose your shot.

The zoom feature is usually used when you want to:

* Get a closer shot of the subject or...

* You are trying to avoid something at the edge of the picture coming into the framing of the shot.

It is obviously a lot easier to zoom in on a subject than to move your position closer...

Particularly when you are using a tripod and you don't want to break it down and set it up again.

In fact, many videographers simply stand wherever it is convenient or where they can get a good view and use it to zoom in or out to vary the size (framing of the shot) or depth of field of the shot.

A Camcorder Zoom Lens Is The Swiss Army Knife of Lenses…!

One of the best things about a zoom lens is they let you compose the shot and shoot quickly !

* I feel one of the keys to successful videography is the ability to work fast... get the shot as quickly as possible and then on to the next one.

Capture the action!! This type of camera lens can help you do that.

They let you frame and shoot very  quickly.

You can shoot from almost any camera angle or distance and still get a good composition of the shot you want...

Whether the subject your shooting is static or dynamic.

It is the "Swiss Army knife" of camera lenses and if you have a high quality one you will use it often! Believe me!

Some Tips for Shooting with a Camera Zoom Lens…

Before you shoot take a look at how much of the scene that you're shooting will be sharp and in-focus…? Be sure to take into consideration the depth of field… It will change as you zoom in and out.

The longer (focal length) the telephoto lens is set to... the less amount of the depth of field (the distance between the nearest and farthest objects that are in focus) you will have in the shot... so focus carefully.

What is the background size? How prominent will the background be in closer shots…? Take a close look before you shoot!

When using this type of lens the background in the shot is magnified at the same time as the foreground subject in the shot. If instead of using the zoom lens the camera were moved closer to the subject then the background size would look different from the zoom shot background size. If you are concerned about the background versus foreground size be careful when using a zoom lens.

It's harder to get your shot focused when you're zooming-in with a camcorder zoom lens… So be careful and look carefully at the focus in your shot before you shoot!

The more you zoom in with your telephoto zoom lens the smaller the Depth of Field is and therefore... the harder it is to get an accurate and sharp focus on the subject that you are shooting.

Look out for camera shake if you're zooming in…! The more you zoom in the more susceptible the camera is to the effects of shaking. Be sure to stabilize your camera as much as possible…

The larger the zoom magnification the cameraman uses...the more the camera operator's shake is magnified. The wider the shot...the less amount of lens shake is recorded. If you're zooming in you'll need to keep the camera very steady... so consider using a tripod or other stabilizing device.

The accuracy (geometry) of shapes in the shot…? Be on the lookout for distortion of objects in the background and foreground of the camera shot…

Lenses can easily distort shapes. For example...When a very wide-angle lens is tilted up at a tall building the building will distort looking as though it is going to fall. Careful attention must be paid when using a camcorder zoom lens as it is easy to not take into consideration this type of distortion, but you will certainly see it afterwords.

Optical zoom versus Digital zoom? What are they and which of the two systems is best for you?

An increasing number of consumer digital video cameras are fitted with a lens system that combines both an "Optical Zoom " and a "Digital Zoom " within the camera.

  • The "Optical Zoom " should not be confused with the "Digital Zoom " as there is a very big  difference.

A camera might, for instance, have a 20X optical zoom and 100X digital zoom built-in. Depending on the quality of its design the optical zoom system should give a consistently high-quality image throughout its zoom range, in other words the focus and picture clarity should remain optimal at all settings.

  • This is not always true with the digital zoom part of the system. In a "Digital Zoom" system...

The impression  of zooming-in is achieved by progressively reading out (electronically) a smaller and smaller area of the same digitally constructed picture. Consequently viewers are likely to see the quality of the image progressively deteriorating as they zoom-in. This is because fewer and fewer of the original picture's pixels are being captured and spread across the screen.

The bottom line is… Camera lens design in small camcorder zoom lens systems involve many technical compromises. The optical quality of budget digital zoom lens system is generally below that of an equivalent camcorder with just a prime lens (fixed focal length) without a zoom.

If you want to explore this a little further... Here is a nice little video from RealSEO on Optical versus Digital zoom lenses... Enjoy!

As you can see...

The camcorder zoom lens needs to be used with some thought and care as the zooming action can be misused or overused with the possibility of producing distracting and amateurish effects.

Be sure to learn the techniques of "Zooming" and use them well... If you do... You'll find that this type of camera lens is one of the most valuable tools you'll have in your camera bag...!!!

Have fun...!  Dan

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