Not so long ago, before the time of small high-resolution digital cameras, the choice of film stock and lenses was one of the most important steps in shaping the image in the camera. Since then cameras have evolved. Today’s film stock may be the type of camera used, or an effect applied to the image. The choice of lens remains as important as it used to be decades ago.

Imagine that the sensor of a digital camera is a screen in a theater, and the lens is a projector throwing an image on that screen. The sensor and the camera can do many things, but they have to work with the pre-existing image projected by the lens. If the image is out of focus, for example, the camera will not be able to make it sharp. This is the reason Cinematographers put a great deal of thought on what type of lens to choose for a specific film.

Cameras nowadays allow for the use of still photography lenses on motion picture cameras. This opened up many possibilities in terms of quality and price. Regardless of what a lens is designed for, here are some of the qualities we look for when figuring out what lens to pick:

  • Focal Length
  • Speed
  • Minimum Focus
  • Lens set matching
  • Physical Design
  • Sharpness
  • Contrast
  • Color
  • Distortion
  • Aberrations and Problems
  • Bokeh
  • Vignetting
  • Flare
  • Breathing