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Old February 16th, 2008, 01:43 PM   #1
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Lens for interviews

From someone with a video background, a potentially dumb question: what size lens would you recommend for shooting interviews? Also for shooting establishing shots. I'll probably be going with the Nikon lens mount.

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Old February 16th, 2008, 03:36 PM   #2
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Uhhm, it depends...

Typically longer lenses 85mm (35mm equiv.) and above are flattering to the look of the subject and allow for very nice blurring of the background (BOKEH). Longer lenses compress the space between the subject and background. Depending on the situation this can make your subject look very cozy or very claustrophobic in their environment. You'll need distance, space, and proper audio equipment to use long lenses effectively.

Normal lenses around 50mm have a similar perspective to the human eye, thus "normal". If you're trying to accentuate your subject's everyman/woman quality, this is a nice length to use.

Wide lenses 35mm and under, exaggerate the distance between foreground and background objects. Can make the subject look like a giant or an ant compared to their surroundings. Close up, it will also distort their features, great for a dog or alligator with a long snout, not so good for your mother in-law. Some subjects will be intimidated since you have to move the camera very close to fill the frame - though can be useful if you're trying to get shots of your subject unaware - you can frame it so it appears that you're shooting something else with them in the shot. In tight surroundings, this may be the only way to get everything in the shot. With the increased apparent distance between fore & background, wide lenses add a lot of dynamic energy, especially when moving in landscapes and outdoor shots. Can be more difficult to master because so much "extra" stuff gets included in the shot, but wides look gorgeous when used properly.
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Old February 16th, 2008, 04:00 PM   #3
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Michael,

Thanks. That's very helpful.

I'll probably start with the 50mm and see how that goes. When you talk about needing space with the longer lens, do you mean between the subject and the camera or the subject and the background, or both? I already need to provide a lot of space (I've been using a JVC HD100) between all three to get a shallow dof. Part of the reason I want the 35mm adapter is so I can get that effect in more confined spaces. It sounds as if the 50mm would do that for me without making my subjects look like gargoyles with a wider lens.

I'm assuming we can't zoom through the adapter. Can we then use a zoom lens instead of using different prime lenses?

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Old February 16th, 2008, 10:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Parker View Post
needing space with the longer lens, do you mean between the subject and the camera
Yes, I meant space between the subject and camera.
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Old February 17th, 2008, 10:04 PM   #5
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If you are looking at a single lens instead of a prime lens set at the moment,
you might consider a zoom lens along the lines of a 35-70mm for interviews in confined spaces.
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Old February 18th, 2008, 05:54 AM   #6
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I thought of that. Is there any reason to avoid zoom lenses? Why would anyone bother with separate lenses if they could just go with a zoom? What, if anything, are you giving up?

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Old February 19th, 2008, 08:01 PM   #7
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Typically prime lens are faster (having lower f-stops) sharper, and lighter than zoom lenses.
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Old February 19th, 2008, 09:00 PM   #8
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I see on e-bay there are some Nikon Nikkor 50mm lenses available. The lens speeds vary from 1.2 to 3.5. What else besides the lens speed would you look for in one of these lenses? The coating?

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