The Key to a Cinematic Look: Aperture

Image source: wikipedia.

Image source: wikipedia.

If you make videos for your school or nonprofit you naturally focus on creating compelling content that helps your organization meet its goals.

But you also want to make a video that looks awesome.

One simple way to create content that looks great is to get a shot with a shallow depth of field. Depth of field refers to that look when one element of a shot is crisp while the rest is out of focus.

Shallow depth of field means some parts of a shot are crisp while others are blurry. This shot was taken with a 50mm Canon lens at an aperture of 1.8.

Shallow depth of field means some parts of a shot are crisp while others are blurry. This shot was taken with a 50mm Canon lens at an aperture of 1.8.

How is this look achieved? Depth of field is determined not by your camera but by your lens. Specifically the aperture of your lens. The smaller your aperture the shallower the depth of field you can achieve. You will find your aperture written on the front of the lens. For example the aperture of the lens at the top of this article is 1.4 while the aperture I used for the screen shot above was 1.8.

A lens with an aperture greater than 3.5 on most cameras won't give you a very shallow depth of field which means it might be time to go lens shopping. The good news is a 50mm 1.8 lens on most cameras is pretty cheap (like under $150 cheap). So many photographers and videographers have a lens like this that it even has a name: the Nifty Fifty.

What do you think? Did you find this article helpful? Still have questions? How do you achieve a cinematic look on your videos? Let us know in the comments!