Best Interview Lens at

Go Back   DV Info Net > Canon EOS / MXF / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD

Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD
APS-C sensor cameras including the 80D, 70D, 7D Mk. II, 7D, EOS M and Rebel models for HD video recording.

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 30th, 2014, 12:59 PM   #1
Major Player
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: Charleston, WV
Posts: 295
Best Interview Lens

Any suggestions on what you would consider the best lens for interviews? I guess even the best "type" of lens for interviews would be good to know. I was told here once that my 50mm 1.8 probably wouldn’t be the best lens for an interview for some reason (I don't remember why).
So is a long prime like a 100mm 2.8 better for interviews? If so, why?

I do a lot of sit down interviews and I want to make sure I'm getting the best footage possible.

I shoot on a canon T3i
Brock Burwell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old April 30th, 2014, 01:15 PM   #2
Major Player
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Aberdeen Scotland
Posts: 392
Re: Best Interview Lens

It could depend on how large or small the room is.
Donald McPherson is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 1st, 2014, 05:56 AM   #3
Major Player
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Hamilton, New Zealand
Posts: 729
Re: Best Interview Lens

I think it would depend on factors like the size of the room, distance of the subject from the camera, etc. I just purchased the Sigma 18-35 f1.8 which I intend to use for interviews. It has a small zoom but should be flexible enough for reframing, and it's very fast so should be good to get a shallow DoF.
Jody Arnott is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 1st, 2014, 06:34 AM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Crookston, MN
Posts: 1,342
Re: Best Interview Lens

The best lens sort of depends. A longer lens will give you more compression, and is generally more flattering to the subject. I've seen photographers who will shoot with their longest lens possible to take advantage of those two facts.j
Robert Benda is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 1st, 2014, 12:48 PM   #5
Major Player
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Charlottesville, VA
Posts: 700
Re: Best Interview Lens

The answer is "the one that best conveys the image you want to present."

yeah. that simple.

In some cases, you may want to get close and intimate (personal appeals, testimonies, etc etc). In this case a longer lens closer up is generally better.

In some cases, you may want to present your interviewee planted firmly in their environment (ie, if the interviewee is talking about a scrapyard they've been working at for 70 years, I may want to see at least a suggestion of the scrapyard, not just some colorful out of focus mush behind them).

Green screen, void, and whiteout type backgrounds typically don't benefit from shallow depth of field, so in those cases fast lenses will usually lose out to sharp lenses with good flare control characteristics.

Sometimes it's simple practicality... I won't shoot a very nice looking interview with a 100mm lens in a university professor's 10' square office, unless I just want to interview his right eye, and it might be awkward to plant an interviewee in a director's chair in a cavernous studio and then sidle right up their face with a 24mm. There may be inadequate natural lighting and no time/availability to rig lighting, so I may have to go with the fastest lens I have just to get correct exposure.

No easy answer. Your 50/1.8 and 100/2.8 are both great interview lenses in the right circumstances, and both terrible interview lenses in the wrong circumstances.
Freelance pudgy bearded lighting camera operator
Kevin McRoberts is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 1st, 2014, 06:28 PM   #6
Inner Circle
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Efland NC, USA
Posts: 2,309
Re: Best Interview Lens

If space allows my go-to lens is a 85mm. People look great when shot in this range and the camera is far enough back to not be as imposing.

I recommend not going wider than about 35mm. Otherwise the camera will be up in their face.
Chris Medico is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 5th, 2014, 01:31 PM   #7
Inner Circle
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,457
Re: Best Interview Lens

The 50/1.8 isn't bad on a crop camera. (I use an 85 on full frame.) Its worst aspect is its focus ring, which doesn't come in to play for most seated interviews using a tripod. You could always upgrade to an EF 50/1.4 or ZE 50/1.4. The ZE 50/2 Makro is an especially great lens that would be a big improvement for use outside of interviews.

You could also get an 85mm or 100mm lens, but these are best for true closeups, rather than head and shoulder interviews. Closeups for interviews often make people seem under a microscope. It can make people seem overly emotional or look like you are probing for guilt. In narrative work, actors need to be very subtle to make a closeup work well. A small lift of an eyebrow can speak volumes.

I'd stick with the 50/1.8 unless you want to meet some additional needs.

You might also consider diffusion filters. I've been using GlimmerGlass from Tiffen. It adds a touch of glamour and smooths skin slightly. I saw some recent tests of Digital Diffusion filters (also from Tiffen) that look even better. The DigiDiffs smooth skin nicely without smearing bright lights in the scene as broadly. It makes the effect less noticeable while still smoothing blemishes.

A filter would be a less expensive improvement than a new lens. :)
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 6th, 2014, 03:54 PM   #8
Major Player
Join Date: May 2007
Location: San Jose, California
Posts: 810
Re: Best Interview Lens

As others have said, there really isn't a 'best' lens. It's more like a favorite list, so I'll include mine. The Rokinon 85mm f1.4 along with a focal reducer, which improves the sharpness, and gives you a looser framing. Otherwise, I'm enjoying Sony's 50mm f1.4 (Alpha), but I'm guessing you wouldn't be able to use that on your Canon.
Oren Arieli is offline   Reply With Quote
Old May 9th, 2014, 12:13 AM   #9
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia
Posts: 8,254
Re: Best Interview Lens

For the dollar, for Canon?
Nikon 35mm f2 AIS with a Canon adapter.
Nikon 50mm f1.4 AIS with a Canon adapter.
Nikon 24mm f2.8 AIS with a Canon adapter.

You'll rarely want anything longer than 50mm on APS-C for an interview (if you do then the 85mm of course) as it isn't a dramatic close up and you want to stay more near the natural FOV angles. Those three will cover whatever you need on the day. The exception would be if you needed to change frame during the interview, in which case you'd want a zoom. The 24-70 is the right range, from whichever manufacturer you want. I love the 18-35 1.8 but it's not the right focal length for interviews.

FWIW to other posters, the Canon 50 1.8 is ok glass but a bit of a chinzy lens. Spend the extra money on the 50m f1.4.
Need to rent camera gear in Vancouver BC?
Check me out at
Dylan Couper is offline   Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

Omega Broadcast
(512) 251-7778
Austin, TX

(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

(800) 238-8480
Glendale, CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > Canon EOS / MXF / AVCHD / HDV / DV Camera Systems > Canon EOS Crop Sensor for HD

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search



All times are GMT -6. The time now is 01:31 PM.

DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2015 The Digital Video Information Network