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Camera Basics.

A quick presentation for UNT Short Film Club, based on the book PORTRAITS: A Field Guide.

Wesley Kirk

on 12 July 2014

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Transcript of Camera Basics.

Focal length is the distance between the lens and the sensor when the subject is in focus, measured in millimeters. The smaller the focal length, the wider the lens, meaning it shows a greater area, what you might think of as “zoomed out”. The larger the focal length, the longer the lens, meaning it shows less area, or what you might think of as “zoomed in”.
Imagine a line shooting out of the camera, straight out into infinity, where only a section is in perfect focus, with everything in front or behind that section is out of focus. The amount (or depth) of that section in focus on the line (or field) is your depth of field. Shallow depth of field is when very little is in focus, great depth of field is when a lot is in focus.
A camera is a tool.

Obviously the better the tool, the better work you can create. "Can" being the key word. Having an expensive camera doesn’t make a good photographer, because a good photographer can take a great picture with any camera, even a disposable film camera or a smartphone.
Being a good photographer is more about having a good eye than anything else. A camera does not capture an objective reality, but rather the subjective view of the person capturing the image. That being said, it is also very important to understand your camera & equipment, so that you can make your vision come to life.
All lenses fall into two categories: prime or zoom.

Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, meaning that they do not zoom in or out, the benefit of this is that it offers a better optical quality and wider maximum aperture (meaning better depth of field).

Zoom lenses offer a greater range of focal lengths, but sacrifice image quality and wider apertures.
Prime Lenses
Common focal lengths:

but were too afraid to ask
Zoom lenses
Zoom ranges vary greatly

Common focal lengths:
18 - 55mm
24 - 70mm
24 - 105mm
70 - 200mm
and so on...
By far the most popular camera among student filmmakers.
A near indestructible little camera that is waterproof, crashproof, and can be used for special action shots.

Can shoot HD, but can't change lenses.
Costs about $300.
Sony FS-100
A traditional video camera.
This is a photography camera with an amazing video feature. There are lots of accessories for DSLRs, as well as software hacks to get more out of your camera.
This camera is the most affordable way to get a look similar to film. Cropped sensor versions cost about $800, and full frame versions cost about $2,000.
(a work in progress)
Films RAW video (which allows for color balance and ISO to be changed after filming, and gives MANY more options in color correction).
Angle of View
The angle of view is the visible extent of the scene captured by the image sensor, stated as an angle.
Changing the focal length changes the angle of view.

The shorter the focal length (e.g. 18 mm), the wider the angle of view and the greater the area captured.

The longer the focal length (e.g. 55 mm), the smaller the angle and the larger the subject appears to be.
Perspective causes objective to appear larger or smaller in the distance.
Focal length is what affects perspective.

Wide angle lenses makes the distance between objects look greater, while long lenses make objects appear closer together.
Three things affect the depth of field:
Aperture, Focal Length, and Distance to Subject.

The wider the aperture (the lower the f-number), the shallower the depth of field.

The tighter the aperture (the higher the f-number), the greater the depth of field.
(covered more later)
Focal Length
The longer the focal length,
the shallower the depth of field.

The shorter the focal length,
the greater the depth of field.
Distance to Subject
The closer to the subject,
the shallower the depth of field.

The further from the subject,
the greater the depth of field.
Proper exposure is all about finding the sweet spot that allows just the right amount of light onto the sensor. There are three elements that work together to determine the proper exposure: shutter speed, aperture, and ISO. Changing any one of these three affects the others.
How much light is allowed in (aperture), for how long (shutter speed), and how quickly the camera absorbs it (ISO).

Shutter Speed
This is how long the shutter remains open, allowing light into the camera for a set amount of time (represented in fractions of a second).

Slow shutter speeds (typically under 1/30th of a second) show movement.

Fast shutter speeds (typically above 1/250th of a second) freeze movement.
This controls how quickly your camera’s sensor absorbs light, but also how much grain (or noise) appears on the image.

A low ISO (such as 100) absorbs light slowly with almost no grain. This works best outdoors with sunlight.

A high ISO (such as 1600) absorbs light quickly with significant grain. This works best indoors at night.

This is the opening inside the lens where you control how much light is allowed in the camera (determined by how big or small the opening is).

The trade off is that this affects your depth of field.
Films continuously.

Allows for various mic inputs, input level adjustments, and headphones.

Great for filming events.
Costs $4,000 or more
Uses a global shutter, preventing "jello motion" as with DSLRs.
Full transcript