Let’s face it, whether you’re just getting to know your camera, or you’re just beginning to get creative with your shots, its important to know the advantages of a wide-angle lens versus a zoom lens when telling a story.
A great question to start with is, “What story am I telling?”. Depending on what your story is and the way you want to present it, knowing what lens is best for the situation is going to positively or negatively influence your audience’s reaction and understanding of the plot. This goes for both narrative and commercially-oriented work.
Here are a few examples of how to utilize your wide lens:
Set up the Scene
1. Wide angle lenses are great for quickly establishing some basic information about your story. Whether you are shooting a quick series of comedic shots or shooting an intense and dramatic scene, the wide angle lens can be utilized very effectively, depending on what action is taking place in front of the camera.
Say you start off your video with a 3-5 second static wide shot of the back of a colorful, 4-story house. The first thing we see from a distance is a small dog running down a the back steps, barking continuously while chasing a shrieking cat, followed by its owner frantically running out the back door of the 3rd story flat in his wife’s flower print bathrobe .. – in this frame the audience has just gathered a great deal of information about the story, in less than 5 seconds.
Let the Audience Process the Action
2. Even in a high-energy scene, its great to hold the camera still every once in a while. For instance, letting your characters move across the wide frame while the camera remains still is often a very entertaining and revealing shot. Think back to those old Scooby Doo episodes where the whole gang scurries across the scene right behind one another in search for the ghastly ghouls!
Or for those of you more dramatic types, think back to the scene in There Will Be Blood where, Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), stands with his men, watching his oil derrick burn (1:30-1:34), the towering flames shooting up from the top. The camera remains in a wide perspective on their faces as they watch, allowing the audience to contemplate what this means for the Plainview and his men.
Move in for a Close-Up
3. In addition to setting up the shot, and allowing contemplation of the scene, wide angle lenses are especially great for close-up detail – provided you move the camera in closer to your subject.
Prioritizing a wide-angle lens over a zoom will also diminish the camera shake that occurs more with a zoom (even if your camera/zoom lens are mounted tightly on a tripod), and it will also provide more clarity.
So there you have it, a few good reasons to use a wide lens!
:::::::::: Ready?! Set?! Shoot!!