#photography

Starting a Lens Collection

Starting a Lens Collection

To go with my new camera, I’d like to collect a few lenses. First, I’ll need a lens to use the camera as a webcam. I found one. Here’s a review of the Voking 25mm F1.7.

I just got a new camera, and among its many abilities, I can use the Sony a6000 as a better alternative to a webcam. It was tricky to figure out what to use as a webcam lens, though. I wanted a “headshot” look for my camera, with a blurry background and without the distracting artificial appearance of a digital blur.

Traditional headshots are taken with a large lens, from some distance away. My home studio isn’t big enough for that distance and a big lens would be cumbersome on my desk. Searching for lenses that work for webcams, most tips are for streamers, who want to show off their environment, but I don’t want to do that.

eposvox in the retro room
For eposvox, the stream professor, it makes sense use a wide angle lens to show his ultimate retro room in the background, in all of its cyberVHS purple majesty. It’s a really fun look, but it’s not my look.

Headshot of Woman with Blurred Background
In this example of a headshot, taken by Andrea Piacquadio, you can see that the subject is in an interior environment, but that’s about it. The background is blurred by the lens. This is a better look for me to use in meetings and conversations.

Another factor to consider is the camera’s cropped sensor, meaning its field of view is smaller on a standard lens than with traditional camera or one with a full-sized sensor. Effectively, it’s like the image is more zoomed in with these cameras, even if you’re using the same lens.

With so many variables to consider for my unique environment, there wasn’t an easy answer available from the search-engine, chat forum, hype-cycle. I decided to mess around and figure it out on my own. The lens that comes with the camera is great for this, as it can zoom to a variety of focal lengths. The kit lens doesn’t give me the best background blur, and at F3.5 it needs bright lighting. It worked well enough to start with, and I could see what worked for me, around 20mm.

I set out to find a 20mm lens, with a lower F number, for cheap. For my first lens, and as an experiment, I didn’t want to risk the hundreds of dollars lenses can cost. Along the way, I rediscovered the allure of vintage lenses, but that’s a story for another day. I decided on a cheap, Chinese lens that seemed suitable for video: the Voking 25mm F1.7.

Review of the Voking 25mm F1.7 Lens

It’s hard to find more than the basic information about this lens. Its maufacturer. Voking, is confusingly rebranded as Meike, and is rumored to be the same manufacturer as Neewer. I found one on Ebay, barely used, for $20.

advertisement for the Voking 25mm F1.7
Promotional materials for the lens feature some endearingly bizarre wording, with what appears to be the proverbial slow boat in the background, but hey, it’s worth waiting for a good metal lens at a great price, and besides, my Chinese would be much worse than this English.

Here are the specs: Mount available as Sony E or Nikon 1; Fixed focal length 25mm; aperture range of 1.7-16; Lens construction is 7 elements in 5 groups, multi-layer coatings; Minimum focusing distance of 0.25m,Full-frame Visual angle: diagonal 61° horizontal 50° vertical 35°

The Voking 25mm F1.7 lens works nicely for me, using the camera as a webcam, and the low F1.7 is good for using in lower indoor light. At F1.7 I get just a little bit more background blur, and I want that for my webcam, so I chose this one over the more common F1.8 I saw on the cheap lenses.

I like how the rings feel to turn. They move easily with just enough resistance to keep them from moving accidentally. The F-stop ring is stepless so it also moves smoothly without clicking at the stops, which makes for smoother adjustments with video.

The image I get isn’t quite like the example headshots I have in mind, but it’s a lot closer than I was getting with an old webcam, so I’m happy with this lens.

Overall, I’m perfectly happy with this lens, especially for the price. I’m happy that this is the first lens for my collection.

You can get the Voking 25mm F1.7 on Amazon for $69.99 but at the moment it’s only available for Nikon mounts.


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