How to master zoom effects?

If you want to enjoy your digital camera the next time you go out, try the zoom effect.

The essence of zoom is to make it look like the subject is moving towards you, or away from you, and drag the lines of motion.

This effect can be achieved in several ways, some by using a certain amount of skill during filming, and some by using zoom blur effects in post-processing. Here we focus on the techniques of filming.

To achieve this effect, it is essential to set the shutter speed at a slow shutter speed to ensure that the exposure time is long enough that you have a chance to use your zoom lens to pull the object in and out of the exposure.

Dali beauty

That’s the most basic thing you need to get a zoom effect, but in practice, getting a good shot requires a little experimentation and maybe a little luck.

1. What is zoom?

Zoom, like a telescope, can pull the scene closer to the segment and look better. The higher the multiple, the closer it can be pulled. There are two zoom methods at present.

Digital zoom: Enlarges the area of each pixel in an image through the processor in a digital camera.

Optical zoom: The use of a lens consisting of multiple lenses to magnify objects, the same principle as a telescope.

Digital zoom depends on software magnification because it is not a real scene, so the effect is not good. Optical zoom is the real scenery magnification, so the effect is very good!

2. What is a zoom lens?

A zoom lens is a camera lens that can change the focal length in a certain range, to get different widths and narrow field angles, different size images, and different scopes of scenery. Zoom lenses can change the shooting range by changing the focal length without changing the shooting distance, so it is very conducive to picture composition. Because a zoom lens can serve as several prime lenses, traveling not only reduces the number of photographic equipment but also saves the time to change lenses.

The prairie sky

3. The function of the zoom lens?

When focusing with a zoom lens, it is best to consider focusing the image at maximum first. That is, focus using the longest focal length end of the lens. Then, reduce the focal length to the desired one. During this process, the image remains clear at all focal lengths.

By using this technique, it is easier to observe whether the details of the image are clear because the focus is under the largest possible image, so it is also the most accurate focusing method. Note that some zoom lenses require turning two separate control rings, one for focus and the other for focal length. The advantage of this layout is that once the focus is done, there is no accidental change of focus by adjusting the focal length.

Other zoom lenses simply move a control ring, turn it to focus, and slide it back and forth to change the focal length. These “single-ring” zoom lenses tend to be faster and more convenient to operate, but are usually more expensive. Care should be taken not to lose clear focus when changing the focal length.

4. Learn to master zoom effects

(1) Keep the camera still

Because you will be using a slow shutter speed, any movement of the camera will significantly affect your shot. Ultimately, you want to capture zooming motion in these shots, so the size or up-and-down jitter on either side will affect the smoothness of the lines in the image. Sure, camera shake can also add an interesting effect to a shot, but it can also make it too fuzzy. To eliminate the camera shake, use a tripod or place the camera on a still object.

terraced fields

(2) Shooting in a low light environment

One of the problems with using longer shutter speeds is that you let more light into the camera. You can help your camera cope with this extra light by using a larger aperture. But in bright conditions, you may still not be able to use long shutter speeds without overexposing the image. As a result, it is easier to get well-exposed zooms in low-light conditions.

(3) Shoot an interesting light

With that last point in mind, one of the most popular themes for zoom effects is lights, whether they’re city lights, Christmas lights, neon lights, etc. They are often a good place to practice techniques and can produce spectacular results.

(4) Manually move the camera

If you don’t have a zoom lens or your camera can’t change the focus during exposure, you can also manually move the camera away from or near your subject for zoom effects. Sure, this can cause a camera to shake, but if you’re skilled or lucky enough, you can still get a good shot.


(5) Choose the appropriate shutter speed

There is no single shutter speed that works for all situations. Factors to consider include light intensity, zoom speed, etc. I usually shoot at a second or more, which is usually enough to zoom the lens from one end to the other. The key is to experiment with different shutter speeds to see what works best.

(6) Continuous smooth zoom

To get a smooth moving line image, you need to practice continuous smooth zoom. That said, you can’t zoom in and out, which will make the lines in your frame seem to be moving and stopping a little bit. It takes practice to achieve a smooth zoom.

(7) Pausduring the zoom

Pausing during zoom means that when you pause zoom, what your camera sees will be more intense and hopefully clearer in your shot.

landscape of guilin

(8) Use flash

Another element you can add to this technique is light. You can do this with almost any light, but the most common is the flash. Using it during long exposures, you freeze parts of the image while still being able to move behind and around it. Some cameras will allow you to do this using “Night mode.”

(9) Reverse zoom

Zooming from long to wide is very different from zooming from wide to long, especially if the object you’re shooting is in motion or you pause at the beginning or end of the zoom. The effects are worth trying.

(10) Use the only partial zoom

Some zoom lenses have a wide focal length. I have a friend who uses 28-200 zoom and he finds that if he starts at one end and moves to the right, the zoom effect may be too much. For a beginner, he can’t maintain a smooth zoom at that focal length, and it’s too much motion for one image. Instead, it is more efficient to scale only part of the focal length range. If you have 28-200mm, try zooming from 28-100mm or 80-200mm or less.

sunset glow

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