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Blank Slate: Lenses

Blank Slate is a new 16-part instructional series from PBS Digital Studios with the production team Video Dads, made up of Emmy-nominated video producers Travis Gilmour and Slavik Boyechko.

This week Brandon Arolfo, Senior Director of PBS Digital Studios, shares his advice on camera lenses. 




I hope you enjoy this Blank Slate episode. Here are a few thoughts that first come to mind when I think about lenses. One of the most common gear questions people ask is: "What camera should I buy?" That’s sort of the wrong question - what usually matters more is the lens you use. A great lens can increase the quality of the image tremendously and totally change the vibe of a given video or image. In faster paced field shooting situations, it’s better to have great glass because you won't have time to set up lights and mess with grip and electric gear.

The decision between a fixed focal length (aka prime) and zoom lens usually depends on two things: versatility needed and image quality. Both are great for different situations. If the settings you shoot in vary quite a bit, a zoom lens is probably best for you. If the videos you're making are in a controlled environment, like an office, house, or studio, then you'll probably be better off with getting a great fixed focal length lens.

If time allows, I prefer to shoot with a fixed lens. The image quality is usually better than setting a zoom lens at the same length. They're higher quality and made specifically for that focal length. They also go down to a lower aperture (f/1.2 or f/1.5) then you can get with zoom lenses (f/2.8 or f/4.0).

Check back in next Tuesday for a video about monitors!

Brandon Arolfo | Senior Director | PBS Digital Studios

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