Lenses - Begginer Guide To Filmmaking

Lenses – Beginner’s Guide

In this tutorial, I show what lenses to use and buy when starting out as a filmmaker or videographer. You can easily spend a fortune on lenses, but if you are well-informed, you can save yourself a lot of money and still produce great work.

I also talk about the differences between standard still photography lenses (DSLR lenses) and cinema lenses.

To find the prices for the lenses and adapters that I recommend in this tutorial, check out the links below or see my favorite filmmaker’s gear on Amazon.

Used Manual Focus Nikon F-Mount / Nikkor lenses on

Here is a selection of lens adapters for the manual Nikon F-Mount / Nikkor lenses to Canon EOS cameras (Canon 5D, 7D, T3i… – anything with a Canon EF-Mount).

Vello Nikon to Canon lens adapter at B&H

Lens adapters Nikon F-Mount to Canon (EF and EF-M mount) cameras on

And here are some cool lenses

Here are three of my other tutorials that also teach about lenses:

Photography Tips: Composition & Camera Angles – Filmmaking Tutorial 14

How to Film a Dialogue Scene: Angles, Framing & Rule of Thirds – Tutorial 17

Red Epic vs DSLR’s – Shot Design Filmmaking Tutorial 37

11 thoughts on “Lenses – Beginner’s Guide”

  1. No a question but more my practical experience looking at what I found useful and what I would do if I need to do it again – sorry, it will be long.

    I am a corporate videographer so I do the boring informative videos about products and company documentaries. To do this I have 2 Canon DSLRs, a T4i and 70D, for these 2 cameras I have 4 lenses but 1 is pretty much doubled up.

    For this type of videography I find more often than not I need to conform to a smaller space like a meeting room or office to film so wider angle lenses are required with my average focal length being around 28mm. Having 2x 18-55mm lenses for this isn’t the worst thing in the world as my close up shots are normally around 45-55mm.

    When I purchased the T4i I got the 18-55mm IS kit lens.

    Next I decided I would like something faster and better for portraiture so I went with the Canon 50mm f/1.8.

    Then when I upgraded to the 70D I was looking for an 18-135mm STM* kit lens but found a bundle that included an 18-55mm STM kit lens and a 55-250mm IS II lens included for a lower cost than the 18-135mm STM kit, unfortunately the 55-250mm IS II is not an STM lens but as I normally use manual focus and it was cheaper I couldn’t complain. The fact that the T4i also supports STM lenses means that both of my cameras can use all of the lenses without adapters so nothing is being wasted. Having the 250mm max length also also allows me, when I am stabilized with a tripod, to get some surfing/windsurfing shots from shore rather than having to rent a boat, put everything inside a wet bag that I just don’t like and then get sea sick.

    So, for mostly corporate videography and a bit of fun/side money video I found 3 lenses with 2 cameras that do the job to an acceptable level even though they are not the best, they still allow me to do it for a living.

    If I was to do it again, I would get the T4i with the 18-135mm STM lens to start and I would have searched a little harder as the day after I ordered my 70D bundle I found one almost identical with the 55-250mm STM lens for almost the same as what I paid for the non-STM version.

    For my next lens I’m going to look for something fast that can go around 30-105mm or 10-20mm – I’m playing with the idea of the 18-135mm STM due to it’s reasonable price and the fact it is an STM lens but I want something faster than f/3.5 – when I’m ready I will go and test a few out and see what I can find and what my needs at the time actually are – for now I have what I need even though I want more.

    *For those who don’t know, STM lenses are designed for smooth a quiet auto-focus, I find it a godsend when I need to record myself and for close up shots in interviews where I can leave the 70D mostly unmanned.

  2. Hi Tom, firstly thanks so much for making all these videos. I have watched nearly all the ones you have made and I find them very helpful and I think It’s pretty cool you take the time to share your knowledge and experience with everyone.

    Just a quick question. I have the 5d mark iii with the Canon 24-105 and sigma 50mm lens both have optical image stabilizers, I love how stable they can make the footage but when shooting films with them should I always have the IS turned on or will it degrade or affect the image somehow?


    1. Thank you for the kind words! The OS or IS won’t degrade your quality, but if you have the camera on a tripod and its a perfectly static shot then you might want to turn it off to save some battery and also so your image doesn’t drift a bit on its own, since that’s what OS does.

  3. Hello, what do you think about Samyang VDSLR lenses, particularly 35/T1.5 and 85/T1.5 as first prime video lenses (I have photo lenses “universal zoom”, “wide-angle zoom” and 50/1.4 already, for 5d mkii)? They have quite moderate price and they are fast.

    By the way, thank you for all your wonderful video tutorials and presentations, it’s not that common that a professional shares his knowledge 🙂

    Best regards,

    1. Hi Marcin! I haven’t tried out the Samyang lenses myself so I can’t say if they’re good or bad. The specs look good and the price is great, so might be worth trying them out.

  4. Hey Tom,
    Any chance you know if a nikon 1 nikkor 10mm 2.8 would fit with any adapter on a 6d? And if not do you have any suggestions on a cheap ultrawide lens with manual aperature, if possible, that would fit? Thanks again 😉

  5. Hi Tom, thanks for a great camera lens lesson. So, now I can actually use fully manual focused (older) lenses on a Canon 5D Mark III?

Leave a Reply