An introductory overview to the glass through which feature films and commercials are captured.
First, a quick reminder of how different focal lengths render images differently (via Noam Kroll):
As commercial cinematographer and camera assistant In Depth Cine observes, while YouTube is full of guides to consumer-level lenses intended to be bought by individuals, there are few summaries of “actual cinema lenses” designed to be rented by companies, for shooting feature films and commercials – and in response, offers this comprehensive series on “The Most Popular Cinema Lenses”.
Most cinema lenses are prime lenses, and are often used in sets spanning a range of focal lengths. Understanding the various focal lengths, and how they make subjects and objects look, is important when devising your shot list. StudioBinder offers this helpful primer for primes:
Travis Lee Ratcliff from Lux looks at how different lenses affect storytelling and especially character:
Try It Yourself
Of course, rental house cinema lenses aren’t the only primes: there are consumer-level DSLR and SLR prime lenses, and vintage lenses can be an inexpensive investment. Mark Holtze demonstrates the relatively cheap and easy steps to transforming any SLR lens into a cine lens: