What Do the Numbers on a Zoom Lens Mean?

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The numbers on a zoom lens allow you to tell just how far you're zooming in or out on your subject. Find out what the numbers on a zoom lens mean with help from a professional filmmaker in this free video clip.

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Video Transcript

Hi guys, I'm Justin Z. I am a Los Angeles independent filmmaker, and I am a freelance editor. I've been getting some basic questions about film making, including this one, what do the numbers mean on a zoom lens? Well that varies from lens to lens, but generally, the number on it means how far the length is focusing on the zoom. So, for example, I have this lens right here. This is a basic zoom lens, or a kit lens. The way it works is on the side we have these numbers, and you can turn it so you can see the zoom length of it. It goes from 18 millimeters, which is very, very wide, to 55 millimeters, which is more zoomed in. And in between it says 24, 35 and 55. Now this is a really basic zoom lens. It doesn't really work very well when it comes to proper zoom lenses. Those usually go to 135 millimeters, and the more professional you get, the longer they get, up to 350, 500, 750 millimeters. So the higher the millimeter length, the closer you can get to the subject from your same point of view. This works for digital lenses on HDR cameras like say a Sony camera that's more shoulder mounted where you go like this, same principle, but when it comes to DSLR cameras, or photographic cameras, it's right on the lens itself. So, you get the basic idea. If you have any questions about this, or other film making technique, feel free to ask.


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