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Thread: To Zoom or not to Zoom that is the question

  1. #1

    Default To Zoom or not to Zoom that is the question

    Hi everyone hope you are having a great weekend

    I have been playing with light in my studio and I wonder if you can answer a question that has been bugging me.

    My Panasonic NVGS400 camcorder 47 inches away from rear wall which allows me to comfortably get behind it to set it up so canít reduce this distance unless I lose some weight!!!.

    There is 11 feet from lens of camcorder to backdrop. New blue fabric (killer) !!

    I have been experimenting with flagging the light as Midnight suggests to remove/reduce light spill on my background so it can be lit separately with soft up lights.

    For me to effectively flag light off background curtain I have to move about 4-5 feet away from background any less and I canít seem to prevent light spilling on my background with out getting cardboard in shot.

    This leaves me with 6 - 7 feet from me to the camera lens.

    Originally before I came to this forum I was shooting myself on the background with about 10 feet from lens to me (optical zoom 3) on camera to achieve this.

    Now I can get the exact same look of me (portrait wise) except now I am obviously zooming less to get same effect as I have moved closer to the camcorder lens and reduced the distance.

    My overall studio space is set so stuck really all I can do is play with distance between me and the background and me and the camera lens .

    So my question is I have heard that it is best to move away from subject and zoom in more compared to move closer to the subject and zoom less.

    I donít understand why this is if I am getting the same look in final shot?

    What is the difference?

    My choice is either move 4-5 feet away from background and zoom less (ie) camcorder 6-7 feet away from me for effective flagging and no light spill on my background .


    Accept that my background will be lit by lights and reduce distance from me to background and increase the distance from me to camera lens (ie) 8 - 9 feet and zoom more (optical 3)

    I will obviously experiment myself but just wondered what are the pros and cons of zooming more or zooming less.

    Massive appreciation to anyone who helps me understand this.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Surrey, UK
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    Quote Originally Posted by slimbob View Post
    I donít understand why this is if I am getting the same look in final shot?

    What is the difference?
    Actually you are not getting the same look at all. Four years ago I knocked up a rough and ready quick demo of this. This was not really intended to be a training video, but it serves the purpose here.

    However, given your neutral background, the foreshortening effect will not be of any real significance to you.

    What you are trying to do is to achieve a separation between you and the background, to make youi stand out.

    This can be done in a couple of ways:
    1. Lighting - a backlight and lighting the background separately will have a big effect here.
    2. Throwing the background out of focus.

    Both of these become easier the further you stand away from the background.
    Last edited by TimStannard; 02-12-2012 at 04:25 PM. Reason: typos

  3. #3


    ^^ Tims comments are what your after, I'd suggest you try the above.

  4. #4


    Thanks very much Tim & B Potter for your replies.

    Very very helpful video Tim and it explains brilliantly what I was trying to figure out..Cheers!!

    I understand that because my background is neutral the background distance perspective wonít be as noticeable as your video demonstrates.

    But a do appreciate that the overall size of the background around me will differ. (i.e.) less with camera further away and more zoom.

    I am experimenting and understand now that to separate myself from my background curtain it is better to move away as much as I can and back light
    myself and light the curtain separately.

    I will just have more background curtain around me. As I am only moving a few feet I am hoping it wonít make a huge difference but like I said I will be experimenting

    Getting there Guys !!!!!

    Just out of curiosity is there a difference in quality???
    Or if subject moves very quickly would one technique blur more than the other
    I canít see any difference in quality in your video Tim.

    Just interested to learn.

    A picture is worth a thousand words and your video has really helped me understand.

    Learning so much on here

    Thank you

  5. #5


    Understood Paul good point.

    I am flagging with cardboard to prevent light spilling on to the background so I will be mindful as they along with light reflections and lights themselves (ie) quite near to me will appear in shot sooner the closer I move the camcorder to me and use less zoom.

    Thanks for bringing that to my attention Paul.


  6. #6


    Thanks Paul ......wish I had more space as moving away from background and also zooming a bit would be a good option to play around with .

    But space is short unless I knock down walls ///not good lol!!!


  7. #7


    With a camera like yours, you will find the wider end of the lens will give a better quality image than if you are fully zoomed in but knowing your situation this will not be an issue at all, as the distances are not very much. This is true of most consumer level cameras. Even with my camera (Prosumer level) it's the same. The lens is the most important part of the camera in many respects. This is why a "Pro" lens for a pro camera starts at around £15,000. As technology moves forward and we can now put SLR lens on cameras with big sensors the gap between "Pro" and armature is lessening and the cost of producing good video has come down. BUT having said that give me a good camera and give Rob the same camera, I'm sure he'd do a much better job with it, so learning how to use what you have is also important. Luckily I learned early on in my video endeavours to use manual settings, as I think you will always get better results than letting the camera guess at what it thinks you want the image to look like. Last of all content is king.

    I think with all the work you have put in you will get a good video of your "Cat thing" doing it's stuff. As you are really looking at all the aspects of making a video, lighting, sound etc....

    Thanks for the video Tim, it's very useful.

  8. #8


    Hey Midnight

    Thanks for your input about quality and zooming etc (noted) but understood that it wont make much difference in my case.

    Yes SLR are very popular now and offer great value for money my mate has one .

    Yes my next adventure on my project is playing with manual settings and getting away from automatic mode you are right !

    Yes I agree content is king , I have spent years on my content so hoping not too bad but appreciate you can't please everyone.

    Thank you for the complement about me doing my best Midnight !

    Couldn't do it without you guys I am indebted to you all !

    Yes Tims video was really good at explaining.....thanks again Tim

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