Forum Thread: Best lenses for shooting video on Canon 7D in low light

What lenses are best for shooting video on a Canon DSLR in low light?

15 Responses

EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

  • 17-55mm wide-angle zoom lens with f/2.8 maximum aperture for Canon DSLR cameras
  • AD and aspherical elements deliver impressive image quality through entire zoom range
  • Image Stabilizer lens groups shift to compensate for image shake even in dim lighting
  • Large circular aperture produces shallow depth of field; ring-type ultra-sonic monitor (USM)
  • Measures 3.3 inches in diameter and 4.4 inches long; weighs 22.8 ounces; 1-year warranty

I have this lens and it's decent. Certainly wouldn't call it "the best". Best on a budget, maybe.

The biggest problem I have with it is the chromatic aberration it gets when zoomed. If shooting video, the resolution is low enough to avoid the problem, but at the end of the day, it's clearly not an F lens. Pretty good price for what you get though (3-stop IS, decent speed. quick USM auto-focus).

The faster the better, and primes will almost always be better for low light, because they usually are faster.  50mm 1.4 or 1.2L, 85 1.8 or 1.2L.  Those are all really good primes.  I'm using a Pentax Super Takumar 50mm 1.4.  It was like $65 with adapter, on ebay.  Totally worth it. 

excellent point. i love the build quality of my tak, but don't really use it due to yellowing. my current go to is an old m42 chinon 55mm that has some quirky bokeh, but is like wearing a favorite old pair of jeans.

that said, i haven't shot any video with primes. it seems a little more difficult than the old photo rule of zoom with your feet. don't you find it limiting?

How does that work with the cameras metering system?  Pentax Super Takumar 50mm 1.4

George P,

I don't look at the meter (and it is way off, even if you try), when in video mode.  I look at the screen on the back and / or a calibrated monitor.  I also snap a jpg of the scene and view that on a histogram.  While viewing on the histogram, I look for an even distribution.  The biggest thing though, is that nothing is clipped (if possible) in the shadows and highlights (check in color histo and brightness histo).  If clipping has to be done, I think clipped shadows are more acceptable and less video looking than clipped highlights.

If you are strapped for cash, old lenses can be amazing for video.  They are usually of higher construction quality than their modern day equivalents, and some have very unique looks.  The Super Tak 1.4 looks better than my $400 Canon 1.4.  It doesn't have autofocus, but if you shoot video who cares.  The focus ring is much better for focus pulls, too.  Another good lens is the Olympus Zuiko OM mount 28mm 3.5.  It's slow but super sharp and renders colors very well.

Look for Leica R mount, M42 mount, and OM mount lenses, there are others but I can't remember.  Pentax, Olympus, Zeiss Jena, Leica, Minolta, etc. are good places to start.

I own a Canon 7D. To use the Super Tak 1.4 with my 7D, will an adaptor be required and if so, what do you use? Thanks!

This may be a dumb question but I have done more editing than a shooting. I am just getting behind the camera and still getting familiar with all the tools required for capturing great video. 


The kit lens will do decently in low light, Check out our YouTube channel. The most recent videos were shot with a Canon 7D, Kit lens, and a battery grip

Cool stuff, Jake!  Really liking the energy of "The Frenchman".  Well done.

Nice work Jake and welcome to the site.  Rupert thanks for chiming in, as well.

If you haven't already, check out Rebel without a Crew.  It's about the director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Desperado) and how he shot an action film for $7,000 and became a major hollywood director.  Great read and inspiring stuff for low budget work.

I have had great luck with my Canon 50mm 1.4 prime lens. Great in low light situations.

That's an excellent lens.

  • I have Canon 7D with 50mm 1.8. Its great in low light situations.
  • And my opinion always large aperture lens is better for low light.

I do a lot of low-light vid work with the Canon 50mm USM 1.4 as well as a Sigma 24mm 1.8 EXDG. 

You can see the quality/samples on my website:

Hope this helps.

I'm just itching to ask if anyone with the 7D + 70 X 200 F/2.8 L IS Mack II has had a personal experience or learned opinion on using only one center focus in low light 3200 ISO for indoor sports like wrestling and basketball.

Share Your Thoughts

  • Hot
  • Active