What is a Digital Video Camera Lens?

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  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 22 September 2019
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A digital video camera lens takes in the light from an image and focuses it onto the digital sensors to create a recorded image, like a photograph or video. Cameras come with a built-in lens that can serve many uses, but many digital video cameras also allow users to change lenses for a wider variety of options. Understanding the purpose and different types of lenses can help even a novice camera user choose the right digital video camera lens for his or her project.

Some digital cameras come with a standard digital video camera lens that is permanently attached to the camera. These models are typically useful for novice camera operators or those that want to make simple family or daily life movies without the hassle of switching lenses. Most camera companies offer at least a few consumer cameras with permanent lenses for basic projects. When choosing a lower-end digital video camera, the lens is usually of less priority than other features, such as memory, available settings, and durability.

One common feature of a digital video camera lens is the capability to zoom in or out on images. Many film cameras come standard with a prime lens, which does not allow the user to get closer to an image if desired. Being able to zoom in and out without switching lenses allows the user to photograph subjects quickly and efficiently, using different zoom lenses to create a variety of perspectives.


In some models of digital video camera with detachable lenses, an adjustable component called a back focus may be required for the camera to work properly. In film photography, the three main colors of light — red, green, and blue — are all focused through the lens on the same plane through a built-in back focus that is automatically set. In video, the three colors each respond to a separate sensor; since the sensors may have varying distances from the back of the lens, an adjustable back focus may be required to create a coherent final image. Lenses with adjustable back focuses are often found as standard equipment in medium to high-end digital video cameras.

For models that feature interchangeable lenses, it is important to understand some basic distinctions between different lenses. A wide-angle lens has the capability to take in a wide expanse, but it can exaggerate distances between objects and can cause distortion at the edge of the frame. A telephoto digital video camera lens allows extremely far zooms to take pictures of objects extremely far off, although focus may become a problem. Both wide-angle and telephoto lenses are available in different sizes, and may require some experimentation before the user can quickly choose the best lens for each subject.


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