Best focal length for video

Started Jul 22, 2021 | Discussions
JerzyP Forum Member • Posts: 63
Best focal length for video

Hi all!  I have a new Sony a7c with the kit 28-60 and would like to add a lens for video (but I would love to use it for both photo and video as I'm 50/50 or may lean more towards photography).

What's a good focal length for video?  I know it's subjective but in general?  35?  24?  20?

I'd prefer to get a prime over zoom if that's possible.

It would be vlog/street/travel...

 JerzyP's gear list:JerzyP's gear list
Fujifilm X-Pro3 Sony a7C Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Fujifilm XF 23mm F2 R WR Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6
Jon555 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,660
Re: Best focal length for video

28...

 Jon555's gear list:Jon555's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 950 Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Sony RX100 V Canon EOS 5DS R Panasonic GH5 +31 more
uncle dunc Senior Member • Posts: 1,203
Re: Best focal length for video
1

Depends on your subject. If you want to shoot portraits with a lovely out of focus background, you'd get a portrait prime. If you want to shoot a room full of people, you'd get a wide angle prime, but even then, if your people are varying distances from the camera, and your depth of field is shallow, you'd have to stop down your prime, which brings you right back to your kit lens.

 uncle dunc's gear list:uncle dunc's gear list
Panasonic FZ2500 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Panasonic Lumix DC-G9 YI 4K Action Camera +13 more
Adrian Tung
Adrian Tung Veteran Member • Posts: 4,032
Re: Best focal length for video
1

For handheld vlogging, most vloggers would recommend an ultrawide to avoid having yourself occupying too much of the frame. Something like 20mm to start with, but perhaps wider like 14-16mm to anticipate any sort of cropping (e.g. from digital stabilization).

 Adrian Tung's gear list:Adrian Tung's gear list
Sony RX100 III Olympus Stylus Tough TG-870 Sony RX100 VI Sony ZV-1 Olympus PEN-F +23 more
Off The Mark Veteran Member • Posts: 6,454
Re: Best focal length for video
1

I would agree with Adrian above ^^ regarding needing an ultra wide lens for vlogging. I think you could use something like a 20mm if it doesn't crop in (some video formats might crop in depending on the FPS... don't know if the a7 C does or not).

And as Adrian mentioned above you might prefer something wider.

Please note that if you are doing vlogging, ultra-wide angle lenses that rely on five-axis image stabilization can look very wobbly (This effect is often called corner warping). I have found that for ultra wide angle lenses, using a "dual IS" system (where the lens does stabilization on three axis, and the body does stabilization on 2 axis) can result in less wobble than if the lens doesn't have stabilization and the body is stabilizing all 5 axis.

-- hide signature --

What Middle School Is Really Like:
https://youtu.be/Q1Xtz5EqMuo

 Off The Mark's gear list:Off The Mark's gear list
Sony a6000 Sony a5100 Sony a6300 Olympus E-M1 II Sony a6500 +16 more
jjdp Contributing Member • Posts: 586
Re: Best focal length for video
2

I'd use the kit lens for awhile and see which focal length you end up using most. Does the camera give you a readout of focal length as you adjust the kit lens?

-- hide signature --
Jon555 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,660
Re: Best focal length for video

Jon555 wrote:

28...

That was a bit brief, but a fair bit of video is shot at 28mm, but not vlogging, where a 16-35mm lens is a better choice as you'll need the wide end (check it focuses closely).

If you want to do specific things then the answer depends on the thing, 28 was my general answer to a general question. Also adjust for sensor size, of course, that's for FF.

 Jon555's gear list:Jon555's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 950 Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Sony RX100 V Canon EOS 5DS R Panasonic GH5 +31 more
DMKAlex
DMKAlex Veteran Member • Posts: 6,380
Re: Best focal length for video
1

Video and still photo have different perspective. For video, the capturing of a wide scene in motion creates the dynamic perspective. For still, a zoom in of the subject reveal details that viewers can focus in for a longer viewing time.

I find myself shooting video mostly in the range of 25-35mm (FF equivalence). When I shoot still, other than landscape, I find my 80-400mm fit most of my need.

I've found almost no use of the longer lens when videoing.

 DMKAlex's gear list:DMKAlex's gear list
Panasonic GH5 Panasonic Leica Summilux DG 25mm F1.4 Samyang 7.5mm F3.5 Fisheye Panasonic Leica 12-60mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH Panasonic Leica DG 50-200mm F2.8-4 +2 more
OP JerzyP Forum Member • Posts: 63
Re: Best focal length for video

DMKAlex wrote:

Video and still photo have different perspective. For video, the capturing of a wide scene in motion creates the dynamic perspective. For still, a zoom in of the subject reveal details that viewers can focus in for a longer viewing time.

I find myself shooting video mostly in the range of 25-35mm (FF equivalence). When I shoot still, other than landscape, I find my 80-400mm fit most of my need.

I've found almost no use of the longer lens when videoing.

I do really like that 20 1.8 but I think it’s a bit too wide. I think 24 would be great?

 JerzyP's gear list:JerzyP's gear list
Fujifilm X-Pro3 Sony a7C Sony FE 55mm F1.8 Fujifilm XF 23mm F2 R WR Sony FE 28-60mm F4-5.6
Fotoni Senior Member • Posts: 1,088
40mm for realistic look

35mm could still be okay, if you want to have a bit wider look. Going wider just creates fake spacious look and it is then about the same as what phone camera users mostly have.

Close-up faces can benefit from 50mm or above because otherwise you have to crop those parts and they look lower quality then.

Yes, it is pain to realize that you cannot have realistic wideness and realistic look at the same time. Human vision does it easily, something prevents it happening with cameras.

 Fotoni's gear list:Fotoni's gear list
Pentax K-1 Pentax FA* 50mm F1.4 SDM AW Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS
Off The Mark Veteran Member • Posts: 6,454
Re: Best focal length for video

JRaw wrote:

DMKAlex wrote:

Video and still photo have different perspective. For video, the capturing of a wide scene in motion creates the dynamic perspective. For still, a zoom in of the subject reveal details that viewers can focus in for a longer viewing time.

I find myself shooting video mostly in the range of 25-35mm (FF equivalence). When I shoot still, other than landscape, I find my 80-400mm fit most of my need.

I've found almost no use of the longer lens when videoing.

I do really like that 20 1.8 but I think it’s a bit too wide. I think 24 would be great?

Well... I like 'em WIDE!!!

But of course everyone has personal preferences.

Do you VLOG on 24mm though? I don't really VLOG so I am just going on what I have heard / seen on youtube and various forums.

The other thing is that I think that various stabilization systems might crop in a bit so i thought that wider might be better.

-- hide signature --

What Middle School Is Really Like:
https://youtu.be/Q1Xtz5EqMuo

 Off The Mark's gear list:Off The Mark's gear list
Sony a6000 Sony a5100 Sony a6300 Olympus E-M1 II Sony a6500 +16 more
(unknown member) Regular Member • Posts: 217
Cropping from 3:2 to 16:9

Your 28mm lens will not be a wide as you might expect. The camera crops a 3:2 image to 16:9, so you use less of the sensor and end up with a narrower effective focal length.

One nice wider lens is always helpful and then a 'portrait lens' for close ups.

I like what Panasonic did. They put a kit zoom on the S5 that starts at 20mm and is perfect for most video.

Markr041 Veteran Member • Posts: 9,823
There is No Best focal length for video
3

JRaw wrote:

Hi all! I have a new Sony a7c with the kit 28-60 and would like to add a lens for video (but I would love to use it for both photo and video as I'm 50/50 or may lean more towards photography).

What's a good focal length for video? I know it's subjective but in general? 35? 24? 20?

I'd prefer to get a prime over zoom if that's possible.

It would be vlog/street/travel...

Let's discuss why you do not want a good zoom for video. Clearly there is not one focal length suitable for vlogging, travel and street videography. Are you emulating Ansel Adams? Saving on weight (though the 28-60 is very small)?

Films are shot with multiple lenses, as they have very different scenes and perspectives. So, you either get multiple primes, each suitable for a different use, or a good zoom lens. There is no such thing as "a good focal length for video," just a good focal length for a particular use, as most of the posters here have pointed out, again, and again.

The Sony 28-60 zoom lens is quite good. I have used it for a lot of 4K videos with the fx3. For example:

 Markr041's gear list:Markr041's gear list
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ200 Panasonic LX100 Sony RX100 IV Panasonic ZS100 Olympus TG-5 +14 more
Jon555 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,660
Re: Cropping from 3:2 to 16:9

MyDog Is Incharge wrote:

Your 28mm lens will not be a wide as you might expect. The camera crops a 3:2 image to 16:9, so you use less of the sensor and end up with a narrower effective focal length.

One nice wider lens is always helpful and then a 'portrait lens' for close ups.

I like what Panasonic did. They put a kit zoom on the S5 that starts at 20mm and is perfect for most video.

My second choice after 28mm would be 40mm, although adjusted if the camera crops whatever you're shooting. 40mm equivalent is hugely popular in movies.

 Jon555's gear list:Jon555's gear list
Nikon Coolpix 950 Fujifilm FinePix Real 3D W3 Sony RX100 V Canon EOS 5DS R Panasonic GH5 +31 more
Leswick II Senior Member • Posts: 2,121
Re: Best focal length for video

JRaw wrote:

Hi all! I have a new Sony a7c with the kit 28-60 and would like to add a lens for video (but I would love to use it for both photo and video as I'm 50/50 or may lean more towards photography).

What's a good focal length for video? I know it's subjective but in general? 35? 24? 20?

I'd prefer to get a prime over zoom if that's possible.

It would be vlog/street/travel...

The story is the motivator and how one has to get that across visually.  Usually, entire set of primes is present on the set, since the DP may find additional views to his/her "go to" lens/es....this can be spotted during blocking/rehearsals.  Zoom tends to allow working  bit faster....both have room on the set.  I guess my answer is in the first sentence.

kooistraalexander
kooistraalexander Regular Member • Posts: 326
Re: Best focal length for video
1

For all topics with "the best".... there is no best.

-- hide signature --

www.movere-media.nl

 kooistraalexander's gear list:kooistraalexander's gear list
Sony a7 IV Sony FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS Sony FE 85mm F1.8 Sony FE 35mm F1.8 Samyang AF 18mm F2.8 FE +5 more
john isaacs Veteran Member • Posts: 7,897
Re: Best focal length for video

Jon555 wrote:

28...

28+++

 john isaacs's gear list:john isaacs's gear list
Panasonic GH5 Olympus E-M5 III Olympus E-M1 III Nikon Z6 II Nikon Z7 II +15 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads