Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Lesson in Camera Controls for the Lens

The human eye is the greatest lens on the planet. Since the beginning of film, professional moviemakers have constantly improved camera controls to try and replicate our own ocular abilities. While we’re still not there yet, we’re getting really close.

Let’s take a look at the different types of lens control options that are available, what they do, and
what to look for.

focus control, zoom control Focus Control

Focus is the most important element of shooting film and video. Exact focus control is needed to get the sharpest shot possible, especially in shots that have lots of movement. Often an upgraded focus control will improve your ability to dial the focus no matter what’s happening in the scene. Look for a focus control that is:

  • Made for your brand of camera.
  • Offers auto and manual control options.
  • Designed to work with different types of camera supports.
  • Able to dial in precise adjustments.
  • Knobs, rings, etc. with extremely smooth movement.

There are even controls that allow you to pull focus using the tripod handle, which is great when you need to adjust focus during camera movement.

Zoom Control

Pushing in or pulling out of a shot can create a dynamic, dramatic effect, but only if it’s smooth. Jerky zoom operation is nothing but a distraction that can be avoided with a good zoom control. Look for a zoom control that:

  • Is made for your brand of camera – here at VariZoom we have zoom controls for all the major makers.
  • Offers variable speed zoom options.
  • Works on different types of camera supports.
  • Has a sturdy but compact design.
  • Pressure sensitive zoom rocker.
  • Incorporates a record start/stop control.

The zoom control that is built into most cameras offers only the most basic of operation, often at limited speeds. An upgraded zoom control can make moving in and out much more precise.

Iris Control

lens controlThe iris of the camera lens controls the exposure of the shot so exact operation can greatly improve iris control, here are a few things to consider:
the look of your finished product and minimize post work. If you’re in the market for an

  • Control that is made specifically for your camera model
  • Smooth movement of the control
  • Ability to switch from auto to manual

Oftentimes an iris control is paired with a focus control. If this is the case, you should be able to control each separately.

Lens Control Systems

A lens control system is designed to provide it all or a combination of controls: focus control, zoom control, and iris control. The best systems will have independent controls that can be operated by more than one person. Some lens control systems will also come with additional products such as monitors that help you to make your shots even more precise.

Wireless camera control systems give videographers more freedom, and enhance their ability to fine tune shots in less than ideal shooting situations. If you are using a jib or crane, wireless camera controls can make a huge difference.

Being able to control your lens, even from 1000 feet away, is crucial to capturing a great shot. When the basic controls just won’t cut it, an upgraded lens control system can take your shots from fine to fine-tuned.

To view lens control products, visit VariZoom at

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