7 Best Prime Lenses for Video 2021 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

We here have an abiding love of prime lenses. In this article, we’ll be exploring the reasons for choosing a prime lens over a zoom lens, the different types of focal lengths you may encounter as a video shooter, and some practical examples from my own personal experience.

Editor's Pick
Rokinon Cine CV35-C 35mm T1.5 Aspherical Wide Angle Cine Lens with De-Clicked Aperture for Canon EOS...
Good Choice
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Don't Miss
YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8N Standard Prime Lens Large Aperture Auto Manual Focus AF MF for Nikon DSLR...
Also Consider
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF
Rokinon Cine CV35-C 35mm T1.5 Aspherical Wide Angle Cine Lens with De-Clicked Aperture for Canon EOS...
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8N Standard Prime Lens Large Aperture Auto Manual Focus AF MF for Nikon DSLR...
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF
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Editor's Pick
Rokinon Cine CV35-C 35mm T1.5 Aspherical Wide Angle Cine Lens with De-Clicked Aperture for Canon EOS...
Rokinon Cine CV35-C 35mm T1.5 Aspherical Wide Angle Cine Lens with De-Clicked Aperture for Canon EOS...
Good Choice
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens
Don't Miss
YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8N Standard Prime Lens Large Aperture Auto Manual Focus AF MF for Nikon DSLR...
YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8N Standard Prime Lens Large Aperture Auto Manual Focus AF MF for Nikon DSLR...
Also Consider
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF
Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Canon EF
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First things first: why would someone want to use a prime lens for video? If you’re shooting a narrative piece or an interview where your subject is stationary–or if you’ve simply got time to burn between shots because there’s no ADR or other audio involved–then it’s easy!

You can go ahead and shoot with whatever lenses you like. However, if the movement of your camera is integral to the feel of your work–if it’s a handheld, Steadicam, or drone shot for instance–then you’ll want to weigh some extra factors into your decision-making process.

Let’s list some of our best prime lenses for video:

Our Picks for 2021

1. Rokinon Cine CV35-C 35mm

Rokinon Cine CV35-C 35mm

 

With an ASPHERICAL WIDE ANGLE this lens was designed for use with digital cinema cameras, the Rokinon 35mm T1.5 Cine DS Lens is a wide-angle lens that covers Super 35 sensor sizes.

This aspherical wide-angle lens features an advanced multi-layer coating process to deliver consistent color rendition from lens to lens.

The de-clicked aperture ring on the Rokinon 35mm T1.5 Cine DS Lens allows cinematographers and camera operators to work in either US or international standard modes, without having to worry about the aperture value changing between shots or while adjusting focus.

Things we like about it:

  • This lens is sharp at all aperture settings
  • The contrast and color rendition is very accurate
  • Pricey but worth it

 

2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens

Canon EF 50mm

 

There are a few lenses that look like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Lens, making it stand out from the rest of your camera bag. It’s small, light, and surprisingly sturdy; the black plastic exterior is compact but tough.

While it won’t attract attention when you’re shooting, this lens offers solid optical performance for a price that is very reasonable. While the f/1.8 aperture offers a bright viewfinder image, there isn’t a lot of light coming through this lens to your camera’s sensor–that’s why it can be handheld in low light.

The maximum aperture opening remains constant throughout the focal range and manual focusing action is smooth and well-damped.

Although this lens doesn’t have image stabilization, the wide f/1.8 aperture allows you to shoot handheld in low light good enough.

Things we love about it:

  • Great for portraits, action, and nighttime photography;
  • Super cheap and affordable
  • Lightweight and compact design

3. Canon EF 135mm f/2L USM

Canon EF 135mm

 

The EF 135mm f/2 L USM is a fast, lightweight, high-quality telephoto lens. It is the ideal tool for capturing indoor sports in low-light conditions and for shooting portrait photography. WIth a F/2 aperture, you will get some amazing photos and great bokeh.

With fast and quiet autofocus, the EF 135mm f/2 L USM features Canon’s Ring Ultrasonic Motor (USM) which provides quick and quiet autofocus action. This means you can concentrate on your subject rather than focusing on problems.

The Super Spectra coatings reduce flare and ghosting caused by reflections from digital image sensors or film bases to give clearer images with a better color balance under unnatural lighting conditions.

When you’re unable to get close enough the EF 135mm f/2 L USM lens is your answer! Even in a 20×20 foot room, it makes a real difference!

Things we like about it:

  • The fast and accurate focus system
  • Great for portrait and indoor sports photography
  • Bokehlicious lens
  • Sharp images in the full aperture range

4. Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM

Sigma 24mm

 

If you’re looking for a fast, wide-aperture prime lens that is affordable compared to the alternatives then look no further than the Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG HSM | A lens. It has an incredibly bright viewfinder image thanks to the large maximum aperture of F/1.4 and it features awesome bokeh. You can pick up some amazing shallow depth of field shots.

This lens has an optical design that incorporates three Aspherical elements and three Low Dispersion elements to help minimize chromatic aberration, distortion, and spherical aberrations in order to produce sharper images with enhanced contrast.

The 24mm 1.4 Art is a fast aperture wide-angle prime lens designed for Full Frame cameras but will work with APS-C sensors as well.

Using over 50 years of lens-making experience, particularly the knowledge gained from the 35mm 1.4 Art and the 50mm 1.4 Art, this new 24mm 1.4 Art is aimed at being the new standard for fast aperture wide-angle prime lenses.

The Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) ensures fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus.

Features we like:

  • Bright viewfinder image thanks to the large maximum aperture of F/1.4
  • Awesome bokeh
  • Sharp images in the full aperture range
  • Super compact with the Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) ensures fast, accurate, and quiet autofocus

5. YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8N

best Prime Lenses for Video

 

The YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8N has a bright viewfinder image thanks to the large maximum aperture of F/1.8 and it features a metal exterior. It is a very affordable lens that’s perfect for video enthusiasts on a budget.

This lens has an inner focusing system that prohibits zooming while maintaining a stable image.

The YONGNUO YN50mm F1.8N features a metal exterior and an inner focusing system that prohibits zooming while maintaining a stable image. This is aF/1. 8 large aperture which helps to separate the subject from the background;

The lens supports autofocus and manual focus modes; supports full-frame and APS-C format cameras. It Adopts Gold Plated metal contacts, which effectively improves the signal conductivity and corrosion resistance. It also Supports M/AV/TV/P and other camera shooting modes, and parameters used to take pictures can be displayed in the exit information;

Things we like about it:

  • Bright viewfinder image
  • Large maximum aperture of F/1.8
  • Super Affordable lens for video enthusiasts on a budget
  • Features a sturdy exterior

6. Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM

best Prime Lenses for Video

 

If you’re looking for a fast, wide-aperture prime lens that is affordable compared to the alternatives then look no further than the Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM. It has an incredibly bright viewfinder image thanks to the large maximum aperture of F/2 and it features awesome bokeh.

This lens is great for anyone looking for a quality prime in the 35mm focal length range! With an F/2 large aperture, it’s perfect for low light applications like indoors, bokehlicious portraits, and street photography!

It focuses quickly and accurately thanks to its Ring-type USM (Ultimate) and it’s very sharp.

Things we like about it:

  • The fast and accurate focus system
  • Sharp images in the full aperture range
  • Super bokeh lens
  • Affordable prime lens for Canon users looking for a wide maximum aperture prime lens!

Size Of Prime Lenses

When you’re buying a prime lens it’s important to consider what focal length is best for your body type. If you’ve got a bigger build with large hands then something in the 18-28mm range might be perfect for you!

On the contrary, if you’ve got a smaller frame and petite hands then a longer prime will usually serve you better.

A prime in the 30-50mm range is going to provide an image that more closely approximates how we see objects in real life–substituting our own normal field of view for whatever focal length the lens happens to have.

Most DSLR cameras come with what’s called a ” kit lens “. The Nikon version of this is typically around 18-55mm and the Canon version is usually more like 18-135mm.

While these lenses are handy for learning about photography and cinematography because they can both shoot stills and video, they’re not great for optically stabilizing your footage (although you probably won’t hurt anything by shooting on them).

If you need optical stabilization in your lens it’s important to consider primes with that feature built into them.

Pros and Cons Of Prime Lenses For Video

Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to each option. Prime lenses tend to have larger maximum apertures which let in more light. This means that it’s easier to have a shallow depth of field when compared with zoom lenses.

A shallower depth of field tends to lend itself well to creating an intimate environment for your audience, even if that intimacy is being shared with another person being prominently featured in the frame!

Additionally, prime lenses tend to be smaller and lighter in weight, which makes them a better choice for handheld work.

If you’re using a prime lens that isn’t stabilized then you’ll also have to consider the fact that prime lenses tend to offer a wider field of view than zoom lenses.

Many newer prime lenses from manufacturers such as Zeiss and Rokinon have image stabilization capabilities–a feature much more expensive zoom lenses often don’t have.

If you don’t know what percentage of your shots will be done handheld versus tripod-mounted then you’ll want to buy a lens that has image stabilization built into it if possible.

This way you can always use it without worrying about camera shake. Keep in mind though that if you have a lens with image stabilization you will almost certainly be better off shooting it on a tripod.

The stark reality is that the human body cannot provide the frame-to-frame consistency of motion that your footage needs to appear smooth, sadly enough!

Focal Length Of Prime Lenses

In terms of focal lengths, it’s much easier to give hard numbers when referring to prime lenses. On average, most prime lenses will cover focal lengths somewhere between 18-50mm (in 35mm terms).

That said, there are ultra-wide-angle primes out there that can get down into the 5-10 range–Rokinon’s 8mm T3.8 Fish-Eye, for example, is an outstanding lens at a low price point–and there are longer focal length primes out there as well, such as the Rokinon 135mm f/2.

All of Rokinon’s manual focus lenses are great, but I’ve found that it’s worth investing in their Cine lenses because they’re designed to work with follow focus systems and other common tools used by cinematographers.

Aperture Of Prime Lenses

Aperture refers to how much light a lens can let through to the camera’s sensor. In general, more expensive lenses have wider maximum apertures–meaning they let in more light.

This is useful when you’re shooting under low-light conditions but it also has an impact on your ability to create a shallow depth of field.

After all, you don’t want to lose your audience’s attention because the subject matter isn’t sharp enough due to too narrow a depth of field!

Sensor Size Of Prime Lenses

best Prime Lenses for Video

If you’ve got a full-frame camera then it’s not as important to worry about the crop factor when buying lenses. However, if you’re shooting with an APS-C-sized sensor then it’s worth considering that your focal lengths will appear 1.5x or 1.6x longer on that body versus a full-frame DSLR model.

For example, if you’ve got an APS-C sized camera and are using Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II lens, you’ll get the same angle of view as an of 36mm on a full-frame body!

This can cause problems in terms of depth of field but it also means that your gear load will be lighter and you’ll be able to use all of your lenses with just about any camera in your arsenal.

Prime Lenses For Video Production

A prime lens is typically defined as having a single focal length, whereas a zoom lens has more than one. Prime lenses are also distinguished from zoom lenses by their optical construction–primes have fewer moving parts and fewer lens elements, which means that they will almost always produce better image quality.

You can’t get away from that tradeoff though, unfortunately enough–the more complex the design of a lens becomes the more difficult it is to engineer and thus the higher its price point must ascend! Good thing there’s a lot of cheap manual focus primes out there for video production!

Here are some other interesting models that you might like:

Panasonic LUMIX G Lens, 25mm, F1.7 ASPH, Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds, H-H025K (USA Black)
Panasonic LUMIX G Lens, 25mm, F1.7 ASPH, Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds, H-H025K (USA Black)
F1.7 brightness beautiful background bokeh effect from its large diameter F1.7 aperture; Angle of View: 47°
Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF Mount Cameras [EOS R, EOS RP, EOS R5, EOS...
Canon RF50mm F1.8 STM for Canon Full Frame Mirrorless RF Mount Cameras [EOS R, EOS RP, EOS R5, EOS...
Compact, Lightweight Fixed 50 millimeter Focal Length Lens.; Large F, 1.8 Aperture for Low-Light Photography and Creative Background Blur
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, Lens Only
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras, Lens Only
Lens construction consists of 15 elements in 12 groups; 23.4-Degree diagonal angle of view
Panasonic LUMIX G MACRO LENS, 30MM, F2.8 ASPH, MIRRORLESS MICRO FOUR THIRDS, MEGA OPTICAL I.S,...
Panasonic LUMIX G MACRO LENS, 30MM, F2.8 ASPH, MIRRORLESS MICRO FOUR THIRDS, MEGA OPTICAL I.S,...
Approx. 1.0x / 2.0x (35mm camera equiv.) Magnification; High Descriptiveness Corner to Corner / Beautiful Bokeh Expression
Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM: (0570C002) Nifty Fifty EF 50 mm f/1.8 Stepper Motor Full Frame Prime Lens +...
Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM: (0570C002) Nifty Fifty EF 50 mm f/1.8 Stepper Motor Full Frame Prime Lens +...
EF-Mount Lens/Full-Frame Format; Aperture Range: f/1.8 to f/22; Super Spectra Coating; STM Stepping AF Motor