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With the number of really powerful cameras today, the distance of the subject would hardly matter. What will matter though is the clarity of the image or video taken. Ideally, it should not be blurred or pixelized that the subject is hardly visible. Despite the distance, the shot taken should be as clear as though it was taken up close. This is where effective zooming comes into play. While most video cameras are equipped with this feature, moving the view closer or farther requires skills.
There are two types of zoom mechanisms in video cameras—manual and servo zoom. The former refers to a zoom ring built on the lens housing that can be rotated. What’s great about it is that it enables you to do super-fast zooms without draining your battery. The only downside is that it requires skills to control and get a smooth zoom. Servo zoom, on the other hand, is the button with a T (tele) and W (side) signs on it. Pressing one or the other moves the subject farther or closer from the camera. While this is easy to use and usually offers nice smooth zooms, it has limited fixed speeds and eats up on battery life.
Regardless of the mechanism your camera has, there are rules in zooming that you must not ignore.
- Unless absolutely necessary, avoid using the zoom feature. What if you want to get a close up of the subject and then a wide shot of the background? Rather than turn the zoom ring or press the T and W lever, take a wide shot instead, stop recording, take a close up shot and then record again. The process may be tedious than if you were to use the zoom mechanism, but you would get better and clearer results.
- Avoid using the zoom too much. True, it is a nifty feature that a lot of people like to play around with. But if most of your shots are moving from a wide angle to a close up, your video would be nauseating to watch. You wouldn’t want to subject your audience to such a film, right? And even if the editing process would take longer than if you use zoom, you will reap more satisfaction if your video would be a success what with all the efforts you put into it.
- Keep it slow and steady. Say you really want to take advantage of the zoom feature of your camera. To ensure that your viewer don’t end up dizzy while watching a video clip, maintain a good slow steady zoom rather than doing a quick zoom on your subject. Doing so will make a film nicer to watch.
- Zoom out rather than zoom in. What you may not know about zoom lenses is that they make it difficult to keep a picture steady if you zoom in from a distance. Ever tried taking a shot of a subject from another building and zooming in? You would notice that the frame doesn’t seem to stay in place. To achieve a steady shot, you would have to use a tripod. Or if not, move closer to the subject and then zoom out. This way, you will have the same framing, except that it is steadier. Yes, the process defeats the purpose of a zoom feature, but it is what you have to do to get better and steadier shots.
Lastly, know whether you are using a digital or optical zoom. The former does nothing more than enlarges individual pixels, distorting the image when used. An optical zoom, on the other hand, guarantees image quality even up to 20x zoom because of the telephoto lens.