Best Lenses for Shooting Videos with Your DSLR
The versatile digital SLR camera is good for not only shooting great quality stills but also for capturing superlative quality HD videos.
With newer DSLRs hitting the market with the 4K capability and dedicated smooth focusing lenses being introduced to shoot professional quality videos, DSLR are increasingly becoming the choice of professionals who hitherto shot only on larger cine cameras.
Even if you don’t want to shoot in the ultra-high resolution a DSLR camera is good enough for your video shooting needs. Any standard DSLR these days can shoot in full-HD and 30 fps making them ideal for vacations, the family gets together as well as for the odd personal project.
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The Advantage of Using DSLRs for Shooting Videos
The biggest plus point for shooting videos with DSLR cameras is that you have a larger selection of lenses to choose from.
That basically means you can pick a lens according to your specific requirement.
Regardless of the make and model of your camera, you are likely to come across several great choices both from the OEM and third-party compatible lenses.
Another advantage is definitely that DSLRs are much lighter when compared to professional quality video cameras. With a simple hand-held stabilization system, you can create virtually shake-free professional quality shots with a DSLR and a standard prime. Handheld shooting is much easier when it comes to shooting with a DSLR.
To Consider when Buying a Lens for Shooting Videos
One thing about buying and using lenses for shooting videos with your DSLR is that the maximum aperture should be uniform across all your lenses. If there is a considerable jump in the maximum aperture between your wide angle, standard and tele lenses the results would be less than satisfactory.
Another aspect that you should keep in mind when choosing lenses for video shooting is that focal length will affect the extent of the image that is in focus. Longer the focal length of the lens, less is the extent of the image that is a sharp focus. This means ideally for the sharpest of scenes a wide angle lens is better suited than a telephoto.
Finally, the format also plays an important part in shooting videos. Smaller format sensors, meaning APS-C sensors tend to give you a bigger depth of field than larger full-frame sensors even though you may be using the same lens.
Ok, enough about the parameters that you should look to adhere to for selecting the best lenses for DSLR video shooting. Let’s now take a quick look at the lenses that meet these parameters.
1. AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED Lens
This is one of Nikon’s best wide angle lenses and widely considered as one of the best in the market. It is very popular with landscape shooters because the lens is extremely sharp.
The 14-24mm f/2.8G ED covers the essential wide-angle perspective for shooting cinema style footages whether you are on vacation or shooting footages for your college project. The wide f/2.8 aperture gives you a greater control over the depth of field.
- Focal Length Range : 14 -24 mm
- Minimum Focus Distance 0.9 ft.( 0.28 m), minimum f/stop 22
- Lens construction 14/11 (2 ED glass elements, 3 aspherical lenses and 1 Nano Crystal Coat)
- Angle of View : 114° - 84°
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2. AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED
To pair with the 14-24mm f/2.8 the ideal lens is the AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED.
Both share the same maximum wide aperture of f/2.8 meaning you can switch from an ultra-wide angle of 14mm and go all the way to 70mm without any visual jerk in your footages. To complement both the above lenses the final lens of this holy trinity is the 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II.
- Minimum Focus Distance : 1.2 ft.( 0.38 m)
- Exceptional low light performance
- Lens Construction (Elements/Groups): 15/11 (3 ED glass elements, 3 aspherical lenses and 1 Nano Crystal Coat)
- Focal Length Range : 24 70 mm
3. The 85mm f/1.4G
Nikon’s 85mm f/1.4G lens designed for the full-frame image circle is another excellent choice for shooting great quality video footages. This lens is slightly longer than the standard prime and would be suitable for shooting interviews and other shots where the camera is fairly close to the subject.
To its credit, the 85mm f/1.4G is a good lens has an extremely fast aperture which makes it the ideal go-to lens when you are shooting in low light conditions. Plus, if you are shooting on crop bodies such as the D3100 or the D5100 or even the D90, basically Nikon DSLRs without a built-in auto-focusing motor, you would still be able to do auto-focusing because this lens has a built-in AF motor inside it.
- Ultra-fast f1.4 classic portrait lens, Nano Crystal Coat
- Focal Length : 85 mm, Minimum Focus Distance : 3.0 ft. (0.85m). Compatible Format(s)- FX, DX, FX in DX Crop Mode
- Optimized for edge to edge sharpness on both FX and DX cameras;Closest focusing distance:0.85 m
- M/A Focus Mode Switch enables quick changes between manual and autofocus operation
- Internal Focus (IF) provides fast and quiet autofocus
Canon’s stepping motor (STM) technology has been widely considered a fantastic innovation almost dedicated for DSLR video shooters. The greatest advantage being the almost silent auto-focusing mechanism that drives these lenses. When shooting videos you wouldn’t want to record the ugly buzzing noise that is synonymous with traditional lenses auto-focusing. With the STM technology that problem is completely sorted out.
Another advantage is the smooth focus pull which looks a great deal better compared to traditional DSLR lenses. Some photographers have, however, complained that the performance of STM lenses is slower than traditional lenses. However, the technology works hand in hand with the new dual-pixel auto-focusing system that debuted with the Canon EOS 70D.
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4. The EF 40mm f/2.8 STM
If you talk of a standard angle of view you don’t have to look beyond this lens. This is undoubtedly the king of the standard angle lenses because of its focal length of 40mm.
The Canon 40mm is a very lightweight and obscure lens that is barely there, especially if you mount it on an EOS 7D or the spanking new EOS 70D.
The best bit about the lens is it comes with Canon’s latest STM or stepping motor technology that practically cuts out any sound during auto-focusing.
- 40mm focal length, Lens not zoom able, 64mm equivalent focal length on Canon APS-C cameras
- Minimum focus distance : 0.30m/11.81 inch, F2.8 maximum aperture; F22 minimum
- Stepper-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing
- 52mm filters, Lens Construction: 15 elements in 12 groups
- Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 100mm 1:2.8
5. The 50mm Prime (both Nikon & Canon Varieties)
The 50mm prime (e.g., the Nikon 50mm or the Canon 50mm) has remained one of the favorites ever since DSLR video shooting has come as a serious alternative to shooting with camcorders and other professional video cameras.
The 50mm prime offers a very wide maximum aperture which translates into greater control over the depth of field.
The focal length of 50mm is widely considered as standard length. This means whatever you shoot with it roughly projects what the human eye sees in a similar situation.
There are a number of great quality 50mm primes available in the market.
The only disadvantage to these primes is probably that they don’t have a really noiseless auto-focusing motor when compared to lenses with STM technology.
Third Party Lenses
6. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 D HSM L Lens
The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.9 D HSM Lens is one of the better third-party lenses for shooting professional quality video footages. This lens is widely regarded as being extremely sharp.
It has a fast wide aperture of f/1.8 and comes with Sigma’s hyper-sonic motor technology for quieter and smoother auto-focusing performance.
One of the parameters for great video performance is a smooth focus pull. The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 D HSM L lens is great in that respect and completes our list of the best lenses for DSLR video shooting.
- 18-35mm focal length, 0.28 m / 11.02" minimum focus
- 27-52.5mm equivalent focal length on APS-C cameras
- F1.8 maximum aperture; F16 minimum
- Ring-type ultrasonic-type AF motor with full-time manual focusing
- 72mm filter size
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Rajib is an avid travel photographer and an overall shutterbug. He loves to test and review new photography gear. He has been writing about cameras and lenses for over 10 years now. You can consider him as your “master guide” here at PhotoWorkout.
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