Do I need a lens that is wider than 18 mm to make a professional looking video (which should be wide enough to give us some space, so the audience doesn't feel like claustrophobia)? I'm going to make a movie filmed with 1080p and a wide ratio.

|           |
|           |
|___________| <--- HD.

|           |
|___________| <--- Wide ratio.

1 Answer 1


What you're referring to is the aspect ratio. 1920 by 1080p is HD video, you would have to letterbox it in post production to achieve the 'wider' aspect ratio (I'm assuming you want 2.39:1).

As for the lens, 18mm is a pretty wide lens. If you have a 35mm sensor you may experience some barrel distortion – which isn't necessarily a bad thing, just as long as it's used well.

Not too sure what you mean by your audience feeling claustrophobic. However, a 50mm lens on a 35mm sensor closely replicates the field of view of the human eye as does (approx.) a 30mm lens on a crop sensor.

So to answer your question: no, you don't need a lens wider than 18mm to make a professional looking video.

EDIT: You mentioned that you will be using a kit lens. Typically kit lenses have a low build quality and are rarely used by professional cinematographers. Obtaining a better lens will make your videos look more professional due to the superior build quality and glass.

A good way to look for good lenses is to, firstly, figure out what focal length you require (8mm fisheye, 50mm, 85mm etc.), search online for different brand's lenses (you have a Nikon but there are many companies that make third party lenses such as Tamron, Tokina, Sigma), look online for reviews of the lenses and test footage (Vimeo is a great place to find test footage) and then you can make an informed decision on which lens is best for you.

I'd recommend obtaining a good 50mm prime lens. Primes have less glass and generally produce a sharper image. Not too sure what Nikon lenses are like but you could try purchasing a 2nd hand lens off eBay and then buying an adaptor to get it onto your camera. This option is usually pretty cheap and if the lens is in good condition you will most likely be impressed with the result. I bought myself a Carl Zeiss 50mm f/1.8 for $80 and an adaptor for $5 – now it's one of my favourite lenses (and definitely the cheapest).

  • I'm going to crop the video by letterboxing it, yes. By 18mm I mean, is it wide enough to shoot a "open" shot inside for example? Do the audience get an overview of the room, or do you need a wider lens for that? I'm about to buy a D7000 with the kit lens 18-200 3.5-.. for $3000 in Norway. And, if I get the camera to realize I have to spend another 1000 bucks on a 10-24mm lens, that's not fun... Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 0:48
  • It's too hard to say without seeing the size of the room. 18mm is pretty wide and should be ok, but it really depends on what you want. If you end up needing a wider lens I can highly recommend the Tokina 12-24. I use it often with my 7D and it performs very well. ebay.com.au/itm/…
    – Richard
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 2:48
  • It isn't a cheap lens: komplett.no/k/ki.aspx?sku=503733 $1200, but what would you recommend then? (I think it's a lens the shop sells along with the camera, not a kit lens..) Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 9:13
  • True. It's not a 'kit lens'; looks like a well built mid-range lens. Should perform nicely. I can't really recommend any lenses to you because I don't know what you need from them.
    – Richard
    Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 9:40
  • Ok, I need (a) lens(es) that I can use for nature photography (landscape and animals), portraits (I don't need a special lens for this as this is only a tiny bit of what I do - price), movie making (both action and mostly still camera). Commented Feb 12, 2012 at 10:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.