Understanding Focal Length on a Camcorder

Most people who use a camcorder do not understand exactly what the focal length is. This is because you don't really need to understand this term to use your camera. If you want to make the most out of your video camera, however, then you should learn about these unknown terms. These terms relate to important things about the lens of your digital video camera. While this might not be essential to learn about, it should make it much simpler to take great photos.

By learning more about your lens and camcorder, it should be much simpler to take great quality home movies by making the most out of your digital camcorder. Finding out about the focal length will make it much simpler to choose a camcorder that you will be happy with.

What Is the Focal Length?

The focal length is the distance between the camcorders lens to the focused image when the lens is focused on infinity. You might be aware of the focal length even if you haven't heard about it before. It's useful to change what you are recording in the frame.

A short focal length will offer a wide angle, which means that a lot will be included in the shot. By using a longer focal length, this will put the lens into telephoto mode, which has a much narrower field of view. Most lenses will have a fixed focal length, but in the case of zoom lenses on your camcorder, the focal length will be variable.

Why Does the Focal Length Matter?

When you are shopping around for a new camcorder, you might not be interested at all in the focal length, however, there are very important reasons why it matters and why it is important. By learning about the focal length before you purchase the camera, it will be much easier to ensure that you are purchasing the right type of camera.

The focal length will tell you about the zoom capabilities of your camcorder. While this is fairly complicated to learn about, it does tell you lots of useful information. It also shows you the angles that your camcorder is capable of capturing.


The focal lengths are always measured in millimeters or mm. In camcorders which have optical zoom fitted, you should see two different focal length measurements. This is because the focal length will change depending on the zoom of the camera. There should be one focal length measurement when the lens is fully zoomed out and another when the lens is zoomed in.

By using the focal length, it's possible to do a bit of mathematics to calculate the magnification of the camera. Simply divide the second focal length measurement by the first to get the magnification.

For example, a camcorder which has a lens which has a focal length of 35mm when zoomed out and 350mm when zoomed in has an optical zoom of 10x (350 / 35 = 10).