What Camera Lens Should You Buy? Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

Credit: Anders Ljunberg on Flickr.
Credit: Anders Ljunberg on Flickr.

DSLR filmmaker Victor Ha wants you to find the perfect camera lens. In Fundamentals of DSLR Filmmaking, Victor outlines the four most important features and the questions you need to be able to answer before buying a new camera lens and starting to shoot video.

How sharp is the frame from one edge of the shot to the next?
This feature is referred to as edge-to-edge sharpen, and it refers to the lens’ ability to clearly capture the peripheral aspects of a scene.

Is there problematic chromatic aberration?
Technically speaking, chromatic aberration is the point where colors converge in an image (you can get a more complete explanation here). With some lenses, you’ll see too much distortion and get a blue or purple line along a face in front of a bright highlight. That’s far from ideal. Look for a lens with the least chromatic aberration your budget can afford.

Does the camera lens distort a straight line?
It’s crucial to check your lines. Does a straight line bow out and get wavy — or does it remain straight? You want a lens that is capable of capturing lines that are true to reality. Look for the lens with the least distortion.

Can I get a consistent performance?
This is a little more difficult to find out based on the specs but look at the reviews to find out if you are you going to get a reliable performance out of your camera no matter what setting you are shooting in. Think day/night, studio lights/natural light, overcast/clear – you want a workhorse that keeps up with you.

Bonus factor: Everyone has their own style, and Victor urges you to find a camera lens that captures yours. Look for a lens that creates images with the color and contrast you prefer. Color saturation is a little different on every lens, so look around make sure the one you buy captures your desired aesthetic.

Want some help determining which lens to buy and how much you should spend. Join John Greengo for his course, Choosing The Right Camera Lens


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Rachel is the content marketing lead for the CreativeLive Craft Channel. Her side hustle is floral design and her day job is awesome. @ms_gregarious.