What Lens Should I Use For My DSLR Camera?

When most people start out shooting video with a DSLR camera, one of the first questions they come up with is “what lens should I use?”.  The answer is both simple and not so simple.  For the simple part, the answer is a quality lens typically from the camera manufacturer (i.e. not a 3rd party lens).  But the not so simple part is a little trickier.

And it’s trickier because it comes down to the type of video you’ll be shooting and the type of camera you are using.  If you’ll be shooting broad scenes, a wide angle lens will work best.  If you want to achieve depth-of-field, a telephoto (zoom) lens will work best.  And if you’ll be shooting in low light, you’ll need a lens that offers a large aperture.

Those things are all pretty basic.  But what most people don’t realize is that the image sensor on your camera can dramatically affect the performance of a lens.  That means the same lens on cameras with different image sensors will perform very differently.  Specifically, if you’re using a higher-end DSLR camera with a full-frame image sensor, you’ll get a lot more out of your lens.  And if you’re using a cheaper DSLR with a “crop” sensor, well, you’ll get a lot less out of your lens.

Confused? Then watch the video below.  It gives an excellent demonstration of how the same lens performs on two different cameras.  One camera is a Canon 5D Mark II (full-frame sensor) and the other is a Canon 7D (crop sensor):

5Dmk2/7D lens comparison test from Mike Collins on Vimeo.

Comments (5)

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  1. Mel Hardman says:

    Dave, perhaps you overlooked (or it didn’t ‘take’) when you linked the above video. Can’t get any response from it. Thought you’d like to know.

  2. Hi Dave,

    I have some lenses from my old pre digital era SLR camera. Can you use these on a DSLR camera? Do they use the same method of connecting the lense to the camera chassis?



  3. Dave says:

    @Mel – The video is an embed from Vimeo…works fine on my end.

  4. Dave says:

    @Care Home Marketing Expert – Probably not, but the only way to know is to contact the camera and/or lens maker.

  5. Dave… just want to say how much I love you site and the resources your are providing. Video is a hobby for me but one I am rapidly trying to expand my functional knowledge of. Your site is helping me do just that. Thank you.