Are Prime Lenses Better For Video? Here’s The Truth


When it comes to videography and filmmaking, you have several lenses to choose from. One of them is the prime lens. However, before investing in them, there are some things you need to know.

Should you invest in these lenses if you intend to use them for videos? If yes, which is the best specification and model? How different are they from their zoom lenses counterpart? This piece contains answers to these million-dollar questions. So, without further ado, let’s dive into whether prime lenses are better for video and much more. Read on!

What Is A Prime Lens?

A prime lens always has a fixed angle of view. That’s why it is often referred to as a fixed lens or block lens, but others also call them. Therefore, you are not at liberty to zoom as you cannot adjust the angle of view. It is a typical feature for most smartphones. What does that mean for the videographer or filmmaker? 

They have to either move further away from your subject or go closer depending on whether you want it to be bigger or smaller than before.

Despite having fixed focal lengths, you have several options. They include 130mm, 85mm, 50mm, and 35 mm focal lengths, just but to mention a few.

What Are Prime Lenses Good For?

Prime lenses are the best when it comes to filming sharp footage. It has a fast aperture. It translates the subject into an image size similar to that of the focal length of your camera. The depth of the field is directly proportional to the f-number of the camera.

Nevertheless, it has both benefits and drawbacks.

Pros and Cons of Prime Lenses

Pros

Some of the benefits of prime series include:

  1. Wide Aperture

It is an aspect that brings about several benefits. First, it is ideal for bokeh. It is a perfect choice for shallow depth of field as it allows you to blur the background. Since the main focus is usually the subjects, the videos tend to look relatively sharp.

Another benefit of the wide aperture is being perfect even when shooting in low light. Thanks to the wide aperture, more light gets to the sensor. Consequently, the videographer or filmmaker gets a lot more exposure to work with. Therefore, the video will be crisp and clear even when capturing it under low heat.

  1. Affordable

Prime lenses are relatively cheaper than other types. Interestingly, they still give great results despite the pocket-friendly price. Therefore, if working with a tight budget, feel free to go for prime lenses without compromising quality.

  1. Improves Skills

Since you will be working with a specific focal length at any particular time, often are times when you will need to be more creative to get the perfect footage. Consequently, you will stop over-relying on lenses for great shots, and that’s perfect for turning you into a better videographer.

  1. Relatively Sharp Images

As mentioned earlier, prime lenses have a fixed focal length. When working at its specific focal length, it has sharper images than most of the lenses out there at that particular focal length.

  1. Compact and Lightweight

If you have to keep moving around when filming and making videos, prime lenses are the best traveling companions. After all, they are compact hence easy to pack. On the other hand, they are lightweight, thus not additional baggage as you travel.

  1. Balances Well on Gimbals

Since they are lightweight, a Gimbal will easily support them.

Cons

Despite having a good size, they also have some shortcomings. Most of them are associated with the fact that they have a fixed focal length. They include:

  1. Inflexibility

Unless you are a pro, you might need more than one prime lens to shoot successfully. Therefore, it might be inconvenient to shoot an entire film using the same focal length. In most cases, you will have to exchange lenses for having great capture. It uses a lot of time to keep switching the resources.

  1. Inconvenience

Due to the need to keep exchanging lenses, a videographer or filmmaker may need to buy several lenses with different focal lengths. Consequently, they spend a lot of money buying all the lenses despite the individual ones being cheap.

In other situations, people miss capturing a moment as they try to exchange the lenses for capturing it better. That can have dire consequences, especially in one-time events such as weddings. Once you miss a moment, it will be hard, if not impossible, to have a moment to capture it again.

  1. Can’t Zoom

It makes it hard to capture subjects that are going far from you. You will need to keep exchanging the lenses, and if you only have one, you will need extreme skills to capture that. Unfortunately, that can be hard, and since videography and filmmaking can be spontaneous at times, being unable to zoom often becomes a disadvantage.

  1. Waste of Production Time:

Since prime lenses have fixed focal length, you will likely waste a lot of time taking a shot in different magnifications. Consequently, there is a lot of time wasted when changing from one lens to another. If you look at this kind of slippage, for a low-budget production, you not only end up wasting valuable production time, but you also escalate the production budget.

Are Prime Lenses Better For Video?

If you want to create a cinematic experience with beautiful composition and crisp imagery, prime lenses are the best options. On other occasions that include shooting a fast-paced documentary and recording live conferences and events, prime lenses are never an ideal choice

Prime lenses are also better for video is when doing high-end corporates, commercial, and narrative film piece videos.

But they make it hard to capture every moment if you want to shoot candidly. Unfortunately, once that opportunity passes, it will be hard for it to repeat itself.

Last but not least, don’t go for it if you need to capture a lot of videos within a short time. So, whether prime lenses are better for video or not depends on what you intend to shoot

are prime lenses better for video

Difference Between A Prime Lens And Zoom Lens

It is no secret that another popular lenses for video are the zoom one. How do prime lenses and zoom lenses differ? Here is a DifferentiationTable of the differences between the two. Check them out!

 Prime LensesZoom Lenses
1Fixed focal lengthAdjustable focal length
2The videographer can’t zoom in or outYou are at liberty to zoom in or out
3Wide apertureNarrow aperture
4Shallow depth of fieldDeep depth of field
5Compact and lightweightHuge and bulky
6You may need several lenses to filmOne lens is sufficient for the entire filming
7Perfect when the lighting is lowIt may not be a wise choice under low lighting
8Great bokeh hence ideal for blurring the backgroundIts bokeh is not as excellent as that of its counterpart
9It is not versatileUsually versatile hence ideal for one-time events such as weddings.
10Allows more light to reach the sensorRelatively little light reaches the sensor
11Its exposure is quite muchThe exposure is less
12It captures sharper imagesImages are not sharper like those captured using prime lenses
13The cost of one lens is relatively cheapOne lens can be pretty expensive
14The filmmaker needs to carry a lot of gear when going for a shootWith zoom lens owners, they need little gear when heading to a set
15It needs a lot of time to switch lensesSwitching between lenses is easy and fast
16A gimbal can easily support itThey are often too heavy to be supported by gimbals
17The barrels never extendsThere are high chances of the barrel extending
18InflexibleQuite flexible
19Can improve your skills as a videographer and filmmakerSince you have no much to do other than adjust the lenses and a few other things, your skills may not improve as much either
20It demands creativityIt doesn’t demand creativity


What Prime Lenses Do I Need For Video?

There are various prime lenses out there, and whether you need them or not depends on what you are covering. T make that choice clear for you, we will take a look at your options and when they are most suitable.

  1. 16 mm Prime Lenses

It is no secret that the 16 mm is quite common with shooting YouTube videos. Nevertheless, if not handled well, it may be a wrong choice for talking to camera videos. That’s because it can be too wide, causing an obscure angle not suitable for the same. If you are shooting a video in a bright place, it is ideal since it captures almost everything. In the same vein, a place that doesn’t look lovely may be trouble. Fortunately, manipulating the camera’s angle or position can do the trick.

Equally important, you don’t have to worry whether you are in the frame or not. That’s because you can rest assured that you will always be in the frame as long as you are using a 16 mm prime lens. Avoid it at all costs when shooting an interview. After all, the subject will have to be close to the camera, which often distorts the faces.

  1. 35 mm Prime Lenses

Compared to the 16 mm, this 35 mm is the perfect focal length if shooting a Youtube video. It covers talk to camera videos quite well too. The camera is usually close to the subject but not too close to distorting it. It is similar to the distance you keep when having a dialogue with someone in real life.

It gives your interview or Youtube video the comfortable vibe they need and makes them quite personal and realistic. Nevertheless, don’t be surprised if some people find it too close thus uncomfortable.

It would be best if you also tried it out when doing tutorials because it hardly disappoints.

  1. 50 mm Prime Lenses

Anyone looking for a cinematic look will appreciate a 50 mm prime lens, no doubt. That’s why it is ideal for filmmaking, especially if there is substantial talk to camera scenes. It doesn’t distort the faces, and interviewees always feel comfortable since it isn’t too close.

However, you will have to talk loud and project much more when using these lenses due to that distance. Its bokeh is perfect, which also makes the subject look quite clear. It also means that you don’t have to worry about the background when shooting.

  1. 85 mm Prime Lenses

Do you intend to capture tight yet detailed footage? If yes, 85 mm is your ultimate choice. However, it would be a wrong move to use it to talk to camera videos and Youtube blogs. The subject looks quite far and also has to shout to be audible.

Equally important, you will need a relatively large room for it to work well. Nevertheless, it is perfect enough to capture even the subject’s slightest details, including a facial expression and a hand movement.

It is also quite remarkable for an indie film.


Should I Get A 35mm Or 50mm Prime Lens?

One would say that 50 mm is safe ground. It is not too much, and neither is it too little for videos and films. They always guarantee you clean and rich footage.

On the other hand, 35 mm is the best choice for shooting short films and Youtube Videos. Again, it is neither too wide nor too close.

Therefore, let what you intend to shoot with the lens guide you when making a choice.


Which Prime Lens Is The Best?

There is no perfect prime lens out there. However, each one has what it does better than the others. Therefore, always keep in mind that your needs are different from those of the other videographers and filmmakers. Consequently, always go for the one that suits your needs the best. Otherwise, no matter how good it is to someone else, it will never be the best for you.

However, there is one prime lens that people often term as an ideal choice. It is the Canon 50 mm f 1.8, which never disappoints users.

Final Words

Are prime lenses better for video? Indeed they are. From the above discussion, you will have seen that they are perfect for various kinds of shooting, be it vlogging or filmmaking.

If you can’t decide between prime lenses and zoom lenses, let the above facts guide you.

The chances are that if you asked any filmmaker or videographer what kind of lens is best for video, they would say a prime lens.

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