What Makes for a Good Zoom Lens for Video?

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Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,528
What Makes for a Good Zoom Lens for Video?

Apart from the standard characteristics of a good lens - resolution, contrast, flare, coma, etc. that are tested in most lens reviews - here is what are some especially useful features for video:

1. Quiet autofocus.

2. Quiet and good optical stabilization, especially for long focal lengths that IBIS cannot handle well.

3.  Multi-speed power zoom - for smooth zooms under control.

4. Parfocal zoom, or near - the lens does not lose focus completely (at a minimum) and never loses focus at best throughout the full zoom range. Fast AF can sometimes mimic true parfocal.

5. Quick and accurate continuous autofocus if the camera can handle it.

6. Minimal "focus breathing" - so when you shift focus from a near, say, to a far object the objects do not change size!

Almost no zoom lenses for hybrid cameras have even a few of these features. I have yet to find an mft lens from Panasonic and Olympus that does not lose focus completely while zooming, or at least fails enough to not be reliable. None of the few power zooms for mft cameras pass the zoom focus test.

This brings me to the Sony RX100 VI and VII cameras - they have the same lens, a 24-100mm power zoom, with multiple speeds. But do these have the other desirable characteristics of a good video lens? If they do, that would make these cameras among the best video cameras available.

How is the OSS? Is the zoom lens parfocal? In this short 4K video I shot almost all clips at the long end - 200mm handheld (the second clip you see has a close-up shaking branch, so you watch the background for steadiness). I also shot two zooms across the full focal lengths of the lens - 24 to 200mm handheld:

How about AF and focus breathing? How quiet is AF? This short video tests for these features, but starts with a zoom. All these shots are on a tripod, since the issues are about focus not stabilization:

Both videos were shot in 4K using the HLG3 picture profile. As of yet YouTube has not rendered the 4eK versions, so ignore the resolution for now (it makes a big difference contrary to what some people think).

 Markr041's gear list:Markr041's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Panasonic LX100 Sony RX100 IV Panasonic ZS100 Olympus TG-5 +14 more
Sony RX100 VI
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