What Makes for a Good Zoom Lens for Video?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
OP Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,651
Re: What Makes for a Good Zoom Lens for Video?

Leswick II wrote:

Markr041 wrote:

  1. Michael Thomas Mitchell wrote:

My apologies for misunderstanding the direction of this discussion. Your original post referenced Cybershot compacts and Panasonic and Olympic hybrids, but things quickly turned to live professional sports and opera, crane shots, dolleys and Hitchcock.

Posters like you questioned the value of power zooms. So, pros use them and therefore they must be valuable for nonpros who buy hybrids and compacts. For, example, surely many nonpros shoot sports, so we can surmise that a zoom is useful to them. And we have at least a few examples of the value of power zooms for interviews, concerts. And many nonpros use drones, and now consumer drones with cameras tout power zooms.

Mark, from what I know about Hitch, he was a prime-lens user, much like Kurosawa and many many others. Zooms have been available for a long time, but these directors didn't want the viewer to be distracted by them. They went through v. critical storyboard and wherever "movement" was needed, they would use a dolly (mostly). That's how Spielberg created the shocking look of Roy Scheider....basically replicating what Hitch did in Vertigo.

Shooting sports is way different and zooms were used way back in the 60's (and earlier ?) when I watched various baseball games.

However, any classically trained cinematographer would use a zoom for it's qualities other than just changing the focal length to fit the framing aesthetics. For instance, Vilmos Zsigmond used Angenieux zoom to give him "softer" look for specific accent or closer look at a person. Mostly he would use Panavision optics, that are/were quite biting in sharpness.

True, more recently zooms have been used more often, tho mostly a drone is a "dolly in the air". Years back this was done by using a chopper....and although an actual zoom was utilized, the focal length remained pretty much the same....using rather expensive stabilization platform (etc).....even in a "pull-away shot" at the end of the film, which was sort of a trend for some time.

Thanks for this - but the classic Hitch and Spielberg shots you are referencing were a combination of dolly and zoom movement in opposite directions, right? Called dolly zoom.

And only badly-done zooms are "distracting" - there is nothing inherently distracting about a zoom - c'mon. There is nothing inherently distracting about a pan, but we see people saying never pan. People make this connection because of all of the lousy pans and zooms of amateurs. Pros know how to do both in ways that are precisely not distracting. No one complains about the (power) zooms in concert videos or sports shot by pros.

Aha, though - classically-trained cinematographers. That means trained using the constraints of old equipment. Such people today rant against AF, because in their classical training by people trained in those good old days AF was not anywhere close to what we have today. There was no touch screen focus remotely. There were no quiet motors in lenses, if they had motors at all. Using AI-enabled AF with today's cameras (Sony, Canon) one can track a person moving around better than any focus puller can. And one can focus pull using a touch screen - at any speed thought desirable much more smoothly and accurately with exact repetition compared to what any manual focus puller can do - and no elaborate set up time and no mistakes. No, oops, didn't get that right, let's redo. Same for manual zooms versus power zooms - Hitch never had access to a quiet, infinitely-variable parfocal power zoom with cinema quality. Did Hitch ever use a gimbal? No - was that because he thought gimbal shots with moving cameras were distracting? He never used drones either. Let's not mistake artistic choice for technology constraints. Bach never played a modern piano so obviously he prefers harpsichords and we should too...

I am not arguing for the death of manual focusing or zooming or for more use of zooming! Just pushing back against the statements that real "artists" would never zoom, or use a power zoom or use AF, just like they did in the 1950's. Some of the greats resisted sound back in those good old days, very gifted and knowledgeable people today still defend 24 fps (now I am really getting controversial).

 Markr041's gear list:Markr041's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Panasonic LX100 Sony RX100 IV Panasonic ZS100 Olympus TG-5 +14 more
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow