The Power of Focal Length: How to Use Lenses for Storytelling

Learn how focal length can change the way your images communicate to your audience.

With so many lenses out there to choose from, it can be difficult to decide on which ones to use in your film. Price, brand, and important features can often be the key factors that determine in which lenses you go with, but focal length might be the most important of them all. In this video, Boima Anderson of Aputure demystifies focal length for the uninitiated, explaining how different ones affect images, how to ultimately select one for your shot, and how they can communicate different things to your audience.

At the beginning of your filmmaking career, presumably when your gear collection is the smallest, your options when it comes to focal length might be pretty limited. You may only have a 24mm, a 50mm, or a 55-200mm zoom to work with and that's okay. 24mm and the good ol' nifty fifty are some of the most popular focal lengths in filmmaking and are used for a myriad of different kinds of shots.

However, if you do get yourself a nice chunk of change to spend on some lenses, it'd be really wise to understand what different focal lengths do and how they change the way your audience reads cinematic moments, particularly how they affect shot size and depth of field.     

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Nice.. Cool video, but why is it out of focus? Any special purpose?

October 22, 2017 at 1:14AM

Sameir Ali
Director of Photography

The dude probably filmed this alone, he pre-set the focus and then missed his position by a few centimeters.

October 23, 2017 at 6:09AM, Edited October 23, 6:09AM