I switched my camera setup from Sony to Olympus a while ago, with my great motorcycle trip through Europe in mind. This, of course, means changing not only the cameras but also the lenses.
The choice of lens is not just a matter of numbers, but rather of the desired look and the associated effect on the viewer. Each lens has different means of image composition such as the possible strength of the depth of field or the ambiance effect of the image. These factors can be deliberately used as stylistic devices to influence the emotions of the viewer.
Let’s look at the focal lengths that I prefer using for my video projects and the matching lenses that I always have with them.
25-40 mm Portrait:
Most of the lenses I use have a F2.8 aperture, so it’s easy to create a nice bokeh (background blur) with them. When it comes to the portrait focal length range, the thing I value most is, despite the small distance between the camera and the model as well as the model and background, it is possible to create a soft bokeh whilst still having a large picture detail available. To cover this range, I use the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO because this lens allows me to flexibly switch between landscape and portrait shots. This lens is actually my favorite and I use it quite often.
7-25 mm Wide angle:
Thanks to the great depth of field, this focal length provides the viewer with an overview of the whole scenery. Almost every area of the image is sharp with an ample picture detail, making it a very close approximation to eyesight and providing an informative effect. I can cover the range of 12-25 mm well with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 PRO, which, as previously mentioned, makes it one of my favorites. Should the setting ever be a bit more extreme, I like to use the M.Zuiko Digital ED 7-14mm F2.8 PRO. With this lens, I can capture much more of the surrounding area and I particularly enjoy playing with the symmetry of architectural elements.
When it comes to video, close ups are always a nice contrast to the more informative wide-angle shots and give the viewer a chance to take in the finer details. In the sequences, the viewer is given little image content due to the small depth of focus, but they are very intense. For close ups, I often use the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO, whereby I take a few steps away from the subject, to then draw visually close again with the maximum focal length of 150 mm. This creates an extreme background blur and the attention of the viewer is entirely on the detail shown.
150 & 300 mm Telephoto:
I rarely use telephoto lenses in my daily work, since I usually get close enough to my subjects without long focal lengths. If it becomes necessary, I am well equipped with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 PRO thanks to the high zoom range and can flexibly decide how close to or far from the subject I really want to be. When taking nature shots, a telephoto lens like the M.Zuiko Digital ED 300mm F4.0 IS PRO is crucial for filming animals without scaring them away.
The targeted use of different picture settings (close up, half-close, long shot, etc.) paired with switching between the different image content strengths makes video highly exciting. Switching between near and far, sharp and blurred gives the viewer’s eyes a moment to relax in between shots. This is important to keep the viewer's attention.
Let’s move on to my experiences with the lenses.
During my journey as well as in my daily work, the switch to the Olympus zoom lenses proved to be a great decision with many advantages. With only 3-4 lenses in my bag, I can cover the entire focal length range, for which I previously carried around 7-8 lenses and thus a hefty weight. Thanks to the zoom, I no longer need to constantly switch to a different lens with a certain focal length or change my position for the correct picture detail. This time saving gives me incredible flexibility and allows me to quickly capture moments without missing a thing.
Another advantage of the Olympus lenses is the focus ring (I’ll never be without it again).
It allows me to quickly and intuitively switch between manual and auto focus directly on the lens as I hold the camera while shooting. I can thus spontaneously decide how the focus should be drawn without having to touch a button on the lens or camera which could potentially cause me to blur the image.
Owing to the robustness of the lenses, I also have more flexibility when planning outdoor shoots. Even on very foggy or rainy shooting days, I don’t have to worry about the high humidity and I can rest assured that the lenses are always ready for use so I can concentrate fully on properly capturing the exciting subjects.
I will absolutely be expanding my videographer setup with a few more lenses in the future. The great thing is that the image stabilization is located within the camera body and no matter which lens I’m currently using, I can easily film while holding the camera in my hand and even implement pans and tracking shots without a gimbal. I’ve already got my eye on a couple lenses and I look forward to trying them out.
Author, Photographer & Videographer: Carolin Nina Jasiak