To help you find the best documentary-style lens for your next project, here are the Best Lenses For Documentary in several budget ranges.
When producing a documentary, choosing the right lens for your project can make or break your ability to get the shots you need to effectively tell your story. That’s why choosing the best documentary lens is so important. Let’s take a look at five key factors to consider.
Best Lenses For Documentary (Cinematography) 2022
If your budget is limited and you have a camera with a standard lens, the next thing to buy is a medium telephoto lens (no zoom). This is ideal for close-ups with flat backgrounds. Next is a high-quality wide-angle lens.
For creative, narrative shots, a fixed focal length lens gives a more “cinematic” effect with less depth of field than a zoom lens. You can also buy a matching “film lens” that gives you precise control over exposure and focus, but it’s expensive. If you’re on a budget, choose a used lens with manual focus and an adapter.
For news, event, and documentary shooting, one or two good zoom lenses are a quick fix. If you can afford it, buy a fixed aperture zoom lens that covers the range from wide-angle to medium telephoto. You don’t have to change lenses, and the exposure doesn’t change when you zoom in or out. You can also choose a wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle zoom lens for handheld close-ups.
If you need a more exotic lens, such as a full-size super-wide-angle lens or a fast telephoto lens, it’s better to rent one if you’re not sure you’ll use it regularly.
Best Lenses For Documentary | Comparison Table 2022
5-Star Picks | Great Prices | High Quality
|Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras, Lens Only||Canon||Check Price|
|FUJINON Cine Lens MK18-55MM T2.9||Fujinon||Check Price|
|OLYMPUS M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Lens, for Micro Four Thirds Cameras||Olympus||Check Price|
|7artisans 25mm F0.95 APS-C Manual Camera Lens Documentary Photography Large Aperture Prime Lens for Fuji FX Mount||7artisans||Check Price|
|Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Compact System Lens||Canon||Check Price|
|PANASONIC LUMIX S Series Camera Lens, 85mm F1.8 L Mount Interchangeable Lens for Mirrorless Full Frame Digital Cameras, S-S85, Black||Panasonic||Check Price|
|Rokinon Cine DS DS35M-C 35mm T1.5 AS IF UMC Full Frame Cine Wide Angle Lens for Canon EF||Rokinon||Check Price|
|Rokinon FE14M-C 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens for Canon (Black)||Rokinon||Check Price|
|Fujinon XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR||Fujifilm||Check Price|
Best Lenses For Documentary (Cinematography) | Reviews 2022
The Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens is a wide-angle zoom lens designed for use with Canon DSLR cameras. It boasts a maximum aperture of f/2.8, allowing for a shallow depth of field and creating a background blur that draws attention to the photographic subject. The lens construction includes UD and aspherical elements, which deliver impressive image quality throughout the entire zoom range, from 17mm to 55mm.
The lens also features a built-in Image Stabilizer, which compensates for camera movement and ensures clear, steady images even in dim lighting. Additionally, the lens has a ring-type ultra-sonic monitor (USM) for fast and quiet autofocus, as well as full-time mechanical manual focusing for fine-tuning the focus even in AF mode.
Measuring 3.3 inches in diameter and 4.4 inches long, and weighing 22.8 ounces, this lens is a solid and durable option for photographers looking for a fast, high-quality EF-S zoom lens. It comes with a 1-year warranty, as with all Canon lenses.
The FUJINON Cine Lens MK18-55MM T2.9 is a high-quality, normal lens developed by Fujifilm for use in cinema production. One of the key features of this lens is its ability to suppress focus shifts, lens breathing, and optical axis shift while zooming, resulting in smooth and consistent image quality.
Designed with sophisticated cinema lens operability in mind, the lens features a 200-degree focus rotation, fully manual operation with three mechanical lens rings, and a standardized 0.8M gear pitch. The iris of the lens is also seamless, eliminating vibrations and noise that can occur with clicking mechanisms.
The FUJINON MK18-55mm T2.9 E-Mount Cine Lens is designed to work with Super 35 mm sensors and is dedicated to Sony FS-7/5 cameras. It covers standard focal lengths for cinema production with its overlapping focal range of 18-55mm and 50-135mm. The lens also boasts a T2.9 speed across the entire zoom range and is "made-in-japan" ensuring the superior optical performance of FUJINON Cine lenses. The lens is compact and lightweight, making it easy to handle and maneuver during shooting. This lens is ideal for movie distribution services, independent film production, and wedding videography.
The OLYMPUS M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro Lens is a high-performance wide-angle zoom lens that is compatible with Micro Four Thirds cameras. The lens has a constant f2.8 maximum aperture, which allows for excellent low-light performance and beautiful background blur. The focal length of the lens ranges from 12 to 40 millimeters, with a minimum focus distance of 7.87 inches (20 centimeters).
One of the standout features of this lens is its rugged construction. It is drip-proof, dust-proof, splash-proof, and freeze-proof, making it suitable for use in a wide range of environments and conditions. The lens also features 14 elements in 9 groups, including an aspherical ED lens, 2 Aspherical lenses, a DSA lens, 2 ED lenses, an HD lens, and 2 HR lenses, which work together to assure the highest level of image reproduction.
The lens also comes with a manual focus clutch mechanism, which allows you to quickly switch between auto and manual focus. Additionally, the lens features an "MSC" (movie and still compatible) AF lens drive system, which ensures fast and quiet auto-focusing, making it ideal for shooting HD movies. The seven-blade circular aperture produces pleasing background-defocusing effects.
The 7artisans 25mm F0.95 APS-C Manual Camera Lens is a prime lens designed for documentary photography. It is designed for use with Fujifilm FX mount cameras such as the X-A1, X-A10, X-A2, X-A3, X-A5, X-A7, X-T1, X-T10, X-T2, X-T20, X-T3, X-T30, X-T100, X-PR01, X-PR02, X-E1, X-E2, X-E2S, X-E3. The lens has a maximum focal length of 25 millimeters and a minimum focal length of 25 millimeters.
It has a focus mode of manual and a field of view of 58.6 degrees (APS-C). The lens is made up of 11 elements in 9 groups and has 13 aperture blades. The maximum f-number is f/0.95 and the minimum aperture is f16, with a 52mm filter thread. One of the main advantages of this lens is its large aperture of f/0.95, which is ideal for indoor, low light, and cloudy settings. This allows for great control over the depth of field and the ability to work in challenging lighting conditions.
The 13-blade diaphragm also contributes to a pleasing out-of-focus quality when working with selective focus techniques. The lens also boasts a unique optical design with 3 ultra-low dispersion lenses, which effectively eliminates edge dispersion. This allows for the creation of unique and artistic images with a soft and hazy shallow depth of field, allowing the subject to stand out from the surrounding environment.
The Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Compact System Lens is a moderate wide-angle lens that is compatible with the Canon EF-M mount cameras. This lens is equivalent to a 35mm lens on a full-frame camera, making it a versatile option for a variety of shooting situations. The built-in stepping motor provides smooth and quiet autofocus when shooting video, making it a great option for videographers. The circular aperture (7 blades) delivers beautiful, soft backgrounds, making it a great option for portrait photography.
The lens has a bright f/2.0 aperture, which allows for low-light performance and beautiful background blur. Additionally, the lens has one aspheric element, which delivers high resolution and high contrast. The minimum focusing distance of 5.9 inches/0.15 meters allows you to get close to your subjects, making it a great option for macro photography. The lens is not zoomable, but its moderate wide-angle focal length makes it ideal for capturing landscapes, street photography, and more.
The Canon EF-M 22mm f2 STM Compact System Lens is ultra slim and compact, making it easy to carry with you everywhere. Its lightweight design and small size make it a great option for photographers who are always on the go. A lens is an excellent option for photographers looking for a versatile and high-performance lens that is small and easy to carry.
The PANASONIC LUMIX S Series Camera Lens, 85mm F1.8 L Mount Interchangeable Lens is a high-quality lens designed for use with mirrorless full-frame digital cameras. This lens boasts a maximum focal length of 85 millimeters and is compatible with Leica L-mount cameras, making it a versatile and essential tool for photographers.
One of the main advantages of this lens is its large aperture, which is perfect for portrait photography. The lens provides a wide range of creative choices, including beautiful bokeh and smooth defocus gradation, allowing photographers to capture stunning portraits with ease. Additionally, the lens is compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry and transport, allowing photographers to stay mobile all day in comfort.
In addition to its still photography capabilities, the LUMIX S 85mm F1.8 also excels in video recording performance. It features a mechanism that suppresses focus breathing, which is a common problem with lenses designed for still image photography. The lens is also built to withstand heavy field use under harsh conditions, with a rugged dust and splash-resistant design.
The Rokinon Cine DS 35mm T1.5 Wide Angle Cine Lens is designed specifically for professional videographers and filmmakers. The lens is part of Rokinon's 2nd generation Cine DS line and offers several advantages over other lenses in its class. The lens features a wide aperture range of T1.5 - T22 and full-frame coverage, allowing for a great deal of creative control over the depth of field.
The lens is also color matched with other Rokinon DS lenses, and all of the gears are unified among all Rokinon Cine DS lenses. This allows the user to easily swap out lenses without having to re-adjust their follow focus. Additionally, the lens features dual focusing scales, one on each side, and is tested to be color matched to provide the same color and contrast in video production.
The lens is also suitable for wide-angle photography, with an angle of view of 63.1 degrees on full-frame cameras and 40.8 degrees on APS-C cameras. However, one of the cons of this lens is that it is only compatible with Canon EF mount cameras and is not a well-known brand as compared to other camera lens manufacturers.
The Rokinon 14mm Ultra-Wide-Angle f/2.8 lens is a versatile and high-performing lens designed for a variety of photography and videography applications. With a focal length of 14mm, this lens provides an ultra-wide angle of view of approximately 115.7 degrees on full-frame cameras and 94 degrees on APS-C cameras. This makes it ideal for capturing dramatic landscapes, real estate imagery, and astrophotography.
One of the key features of this lens is its advanced 14-element, 10-group design. This design includes 2 ED elements, 1 Hybrid Aspherical element, 3 High Refractive Index elements, and one glass Aspherical element, which work together to produce sharply defined rectilinear images with minimal distortion and chromatic aberration. Additionally, the lens has a close focusing distance of 11 inches, allowing for enhanced close-up shots.
The Rokinon 14mm lens also includes a number of practical features to enhance its performance. It utilizes Ultra Multi Coating to reduce flare and ghost images and comes with a built-in petal-type lens hood to protect the lens. The lens is also available in several mounts, including Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, MFT, Sony A, Pentax K, and Fuji X, making it compatible with a wide range of cameras. Overall, the Rokinon 14mm Ultra-Wide-Angle f/2.8 lens is a powerful and versatile tool for professional and amateur photographers and videographers alike.
The Fujifilm XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR is a wide-angle lens that is perfect for today and ready for tomorrow. The lens is capable of resolving up to 40 megapixels, making it an incredible combination of portability and performance that will continue to provide stunning detail and vibrant colors with minimal imperfections long into the future.
For those unpredictable moments, the XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR features a redesigned internal focusing mechanism, driven by a fast, near-silent linear motor, for immediate response and precise results. With good timing, fast reflexes, and a little help from XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR, those unpredictable moments will turn into a lifetime of memories.
The XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR provides incredible optical performance thanks to two aspherical and three ED elements used in its construction, plus its F1.4 maximum aperture - created by nine rounded iris blades - that allow for pinpoint focus and smooth background bokeh. A large manual focusing ring provides further assurance that every element of the image-making process is under complete and total control.
The lens also features a durable, all-metal construction, making it a versatile solution for street, documentary, and wedding photographers alike, and is weather-resistant, allowing it to perform effortlessly down to -10°C (14°F). With XF23mmF1.4 R LM WR, Fujifilm has created an essential lens that is set to become your new daily companion.
Factors to consider while choosing Best Lenses For Documentary | Ultimate Guide 2022
The lens is the most important component of a camera. It is no wonder that many people have trouble replacing lenses. Good lenses are expensive and special. Whether this is the first lens you buy or your twentieth, it is important to know exactly what you are looking for. Here are the main factors to consider before investing in your next lens.
The first thing to consider with a lens is the type of mount. Each camera manufacturer has its own method of connecting the lens to the camera. This connection is called the mount. When purchasing a new lens, be sure to choose the right one for your camera.
Here are the typical mount systems for digital SLR cameras and mirrorless cameras. Micro Four Thirds (MFT), which is used in most cameras from Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E-mount, Fujinon X-mount, and Panasonic. Some lens mounts are only associated with cameras from the same manufacturer, for example, some film cameras use the EF mount outside of the Canon ecosystem. There are also manufacturers that offer the same lens in several different mounts, such as Sigma, Tamron, Rokinon, and FUJINON. High-end brands such as Zeiss and Cook also offer interchangeable lens mount options.
When investing in lenses, consider the camera and mount you plan to use in the future so that you can continue to use your lens collection after your next upgrade.
Once the compatibility is determined, the focal length will be the deciding factor in lens selection. The focal length is usually the first number listed in the lens description and is measured in millimeters. The smaller the number, the wider the angle of view and the more scenes you can capture. A lens with a longer focal length brings the viewer closer to the action and compresses the space in the image more.
Focal length is one of the major factors that determine how an image looks. When used intentionally, it is a useful storytelling tool. Extreme lenses, such as super wide angles and super-telephoto, are usually used only for specific creative effects. Very wide lenses often distort images and can be annoying in the wrong circumstances. In video production, lenses with focal lengths from 20mm to 100mm are common, with a 50mm lens roughly matching the field of view of the human eye.
You will also find that most manufacturers, including Canon, Nikon, Sony, Sigma, and Tokina, produce very similar 24-70mm zooms. This zoom range covers the most commonly used focal lengths. They are also generally affordable, ranging in price from a few hundred to several thousand yen, depending on the mount and manufacturer.
Effective Focal Length
When choosing a lens by focal length, you must also consider the size of the camera's sensor. Sensors smaller than full size have a crop factor, which increases the effective focal length of the lens. When combined with an MFT sensor with a 2x crop factor, a 35mm lens will have an angle of view equivalent to a 70mm lens. A camera with an APS-C sensor with a crop factor of 1.5x will give the same lens an angle of view almost equivalent to a 52mm lens. Know your camera's crop factor and get the lens you need.
Main and Zoom Lenses
Primary lenses have a fixed focal length, but a zoom lens can be used to cover a range. They can have a long or short focal length, cover a wide range, or cover only a very narrow range. Zoom lenses are generally more expensive, especially as the zoom range increases. However, they can replace several prime lenses and are useful in run-and-gun situations where you often have to crop.
There are two types of zoom lenses: built-in and external. External zooms are more common and more affordable. If you need accessories such as a matte box, you may want to opt for a built-in zoom.
Primary lenses have a fixed focal length, while zooms can cover a variety of distances.
Prime lenses, on the other hand, often have faster or wider f-numbers than zoom lenses. They also generally produce sharper images than zoom lenses because fewer lenses are used.
An aperture is a hole in a lens that lets light in. The size of this opening is controlled by the multi-blade iris. The aperture also affects the bokeh in a photograph. The more blades there are, the more circular the aperture is, and the smoother and more beautiful the bokeh in the defocused areas.
The size of the aperture is an important indicator. It is the maximum width that can be opened. It is usually measured by the f-number of the lens, such as f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, etc. The smaller the f-number, the larger the aperture, allowing more light through. Also, as the aperture is opened, the depth of field becomes shallower. In other words, the surface in focus becomes thinner.
A photograph in which the subject is sharp and the background is largely out of focus was probably taken with a large aperture of f/2.8 or larger. When buying a new lens, choose one with a maximum aperture of f/4 or larger. Zoom lenses often have an aperture f-number that varies with the focal length used. This means that you will probably need to adjust the exposure when zooming.
Fixed aperture zooms are easier to use but usually more expensive. Similarly, lenses with larger maximum aperture f-numbers are generally more expensive. However, going from f/4 to f/2.8 makes a big difference for videographers working in low-light situations. It is also recommended for those who want to create cinematic expressions because of its very shallow depth of field.
Another important consideration when purchasing a lens is the size of the camera's sensor. The main sensor types considered here are, in order from largest to smallest, full size, APS-C and Super35, and Micro Four Thirds MFT is both a sensor format and amount type.
Full-size sensors are the largest, so the image from a full-size lens will cover a smaller sensor. Full-size compatible lenses can be used on any camera. However, if a lens for a crop sensor is used on a full-frame camera, the image will only cover a portion of the sensor. This results in significant vignetting in the image. Avoid using lenses designed for small sensors on large format cameras unless you specifically expect this effect.
Some manufacturers use different mount subsystems that also represent the sensor size. For example, Canon's EF mount is for full-size cameras, while the EF-S mount is for Canon crop sensors; EF-mount lenses can be used with EF-S cameras, but EF-S mount lenses will not even fit EF cameras. Full-size compatible lenses are generally more expensive, but they are also more versatile. So they are more likely to remain in your arsenal over the long term.
An adapter to attach a lens for one mount to a camera for another mount. They can be found for most mount combinations. While they allow more lenses to be used, adapters also have their drawbacks. When using an adapter, you should always consider the size of the sensor and the coverage of the lens.
Also, few adapters allow digital communication between the camera and the lens. If digital communication is lost, autofocusing is not possible. With newer lenses, you may not be able to change the aperture. Adapters can also affect the light that passes through the lens to the sensor. Using an adapter can reduce the exposure by one point. It is a useful tool, but you should always be aware of its drawbacks if you use it.
Cinema lenses differ from fixed lenses in several ways. First, they are more robust and have less tolerance for variations in technical characteristics. They also have a longer focal range, which allows for smoother separation and manual aperture. Cinema lenses are designed for use in adverse weather conditions. Because of these stringent specifications, they are often much more expensive than similar fixed lenses.
Also, the aperture of cinema lenses is measured in terms of T-value rather than F-value; unlike F-value, T-value is not the width of the aperture, but the amount of light reaching the sensor. This difference makes the T-stop more stable for film applications.
Some of the light entering the lens is lost as it passes through the lens and the camera; a lens with an F value of f/1.2 may have a T value of t/1.4, resulting in a slight loss of 0.2. T iris is usually found only in film lenses, as filmmakers are particularly concerned with exposure stability.
Film lenses are much more common and affordable than film zooms. It is important that cinema lenses be parfocal. This means that they maintain a constant focus over the entire area of the lens. This makes the design of cinema zooms very complex and expensive to manufacture.
Because cinematographers value consistency, major cinema lenses are often sold as a set. These lenses share the same image quality characteristics and physical design, making it easy to change lenses between shots.
Special Lens Options
Autofocus is a useful feature, but it is not as useful in motion picture productions as it is in still images, unless continuous autofocus is supported. Continuous AF is a very useful feature that allows the camera to lock onto a subject and keep it in focus as it moves across the focal plane. However, Continuous AF does not work well with some cameras, and the AF performance of lenses for video is somewhat limited.
This image stabilization function is effective in alleviating the instability of hand-held shooting. While this is a very useful feature, it does not replace Steadicam or gimbal. However, it can be effective in smoothing out minor shaking.
Older lenses used manual aperture control, in which the aperture is increased or decreased by rotating a ring similar to the focus ring. This is useful when the lens is used with a camera that does not have digital communication. While most film lenses allow manual aperture control, this is not always the case with photographic lenses.
The Best Documentary Lens | Video Explanation
1. What is the opening of a goal?
The aperture in your lens is the hole through which light reaches the camera sensor, or film if you're using a film camera. The wider the aperture, the more light enters the camera. In low light conditions, it is better to have a large aperture, and when working with a lot of light it is better to adopt an aperture to avoid overexposure.
2. What is an 'f-stop'?
Light passes through the lens aperture on its way to the camera sensor, and your lens' f-stop refers to the amount of light it lets in. The lower the f-stop, the wider your aperture will be, and the lighter will enter the camera. The more light enters the camera, the greater the chances of the background being blurry. A lot of vloggers like to blur their background because it's a quick way to mask the rooms they are filming in.
There are many factors to consider when choosing a lens. Most important are how you will use it, what camera system it will work with, and, of course, the price. No one lens can meet all needs, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. By gathering information and knowing your options, you will be able to find the right lens for your needs.