Whether to zoom or not to zoom when shooting your masterpiece. That is the question often a Videographer or Director of Photography must ask when out shooting that masterpiece project. Most film schools have always taught one to use prime lenses only and to never zoom. Sure, a zoom lens has its place – doing a slow push in or out of a scene, but what about using that zoom as a variable prime?
Zoom lenses have had a bad rap for a long time, but zoom lenses today, even stock zooms on the most inexpensive camera have improved greatly over the parent predecessor. Top professional movie DPs will even use a zoom lens in their shooting over a prime. (Ridley Scott for example – “Alien”, “Blade Runner”, “Legend”, etc.)
A zoom lens can be a great tool you can use to change your shot without having to move everything just to get that perfect framing. If one watches the image closely and tests the limits of the lens, one can find the sweet range of the zoom and live within those constraints to get the best picture possible for every shot without having to resort to only prime shooting.
Today’s zooms are sharp, fast and can be a fast way to get that framing for a great shot – especially when it’s not practical to strike and move everything to the “perfect spot”.