No I don’t mean push the zoom button with your big toe. I mean walk closer to your subject. Try to videotape an entire event without using the zoom button at all. See what happens. It’s kind of a fun exercise. When you want to get a tighter shot, move the camera closer. Walk in if you have to.
When you use the zoom on your camera your shots will be a lot more shaky. Why? Because, the zoom lens acts like a lever. The camera is on the short end of the lever, and the image of your subject is on the long end of the lever. The more you zoom in, the longer the subjects lever arm gets. So if you move your camera just a little bit, maybe barely perceptible to you, the image of your subject will move a lot.
When you zoom out and walk closer you can get that closer shot, with less shake. You have effectively zoomed in, but you did it by moving your feet instead of the zoom on the lens. This is a trick professional videographers use all the time. Did you know that most film cameras that are used to shoot movies don’t even have lenses with zooms? They mostly use what are called fixed focus lenses. Yes, you will occasionally fins a zoom in a movie, but more often what looks like a zoom is actually the camera moving in closer.
When you zoom with your feet you will find it easier to keep your subject in focus. Whether you are focusing manually or using the auto focus feature on your camera, more things in your shot will be in focus. This is called depth of field. Depth of field refers to how much of your image is in focus. A large depth of field could include everything within several feet of your subject or even more. A small depth of field might only include things within an inch or less of your focus point. With a large depth of field, if your subject moves a little either closer or farther from you, they will remain in focus without you, or the autofocus making any adjustment.
Lastly when you are using the wider end of your lens it will be easier to keep the subject in frame. The wider shot will allow you to move the camera with your subject much easier and smoother. Remember the lever. A small movement of the camera moves the image a lot. When your subject moves while you are shooting on the tight end of your lens, it’s easy to move the camera too much, then have to move back to “find” the subject again.
Zoom with your feet as much as you can. You will still wind up using the zoom on your lens. That’s Ok. Sometimes you just can’t get closer, or you would interfere with your subject if you did. But move as close as you can, or as close as is appropriate and you will have to use that zoom on your lens a lot less.
So get out there and start shooting like a pro. And if you want a professional videographer in Tampa Bay, or anywhere in Florida you can always find me here.