Placement vs. Zoom at

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Canon XH Series HDV Camcorders
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Old January 6th, 2008, 02:53 AM   #1
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Placement vs. Zoom

Please forgive another amateur question, but here goes:

When framing shots and considering initial camera placement, how do you guys decide between placing the camera at a particular distance as opposed to placing it somewhere further and zooming in? What is the difference between the two methods?

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Old January 6th, 2008, 03:07 AM   #2
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Myself personally:
Camera in close and zoomed out wide for wide shot (no kidding).
Camera far away and zoomed in for a shallow depth of field.
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Old January 6th, 2008, 03:30 AM   #3
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Different focal lengths give a different look and feel to the shot.

Zoom in will flatten things out give a shallower depth of field.

A wider angle (zoom out) will give a deeper depth of field and show more depth in the picture.

Interviews and shot at a reasonable distance, one to shorten the depth of field, and two to give the face the right proportions. (For example, in 35mm, 110mm is considered the "perfect" portrait focal length. Use the right multiple to get the mm of the lens you are using for the camera you are using.)

If the camera is too close to a face, it will look fat. If it is too far away (and zooming on), will look flat. But both looks are used to good effect.

Put someone in front of your camera and shoot them at different distances, zooming to make them the same size in the picture (say head and shoulders.) Then look at the video on a monitor. You will see distinctive differences once you start to look for them.

Next, watch TV shows or movies and think about what focal length lens is being used...zoomed in or zoomed out. It's usually not hard to tell. Notice how the lens affects the shot. For example, it's quite common to see a long telephoto shot of someone close, walking toward the camera. They keep walking and walking but don't seem to be getting much closer. The background is out of focus (short depth of field) and the person looks quite flat.

There are books and guides, etc. around. But it's also good to shoot some video, pay attention to distance, focal length, f-stop and see what effect they have on the subjects you are personally shooting. You can flatter people or make them look ugly just by camera distance and focal length.
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