One of the problems with FaceTime cameras and some webcams is that the lenses are too wide. This forces the online participant to deal with lots of background, which isn't always easy in home environments. But thanks to new (and often free) webcam software from camera makers, we now have more lens options for our Zoom calls.
After a great deal of testing, my conclusion is that lenses with the 35mm-40mm focal length are ideal for videoconference calls. They are wide enough to accommodate two people if necessary, they are not too tight on a single participant, yet they aren't too wide either, forcing one to clean an entire room.
Because of the crop factor for Micro Four Thirds, a 17mm-20mm optic is ideal, for APS-C cameras 20mm to 22mm are terrific, and for full frame bodies 35mm-40mm work great.
I recommend prime lenses whenever possible, enabling you to take advantage of their faster apertures. For example, my Olympus 17mm f/1.8 used wide open for videoconferencing work softens the background nicely, even if it's only a few feet behind me.
The faster aperture also makes it easier to deal with diffused lighting that's more flattering to the subject, but maybe not as bright.
One tip, regardless of which lens you use, is to put it in manual focus mode and leave it there. This enables you to adjust it for your face, preventing it from accidentally focusing on the background when you move around in the frame.
Using your digital camera for video conferencing has many advantages, and being able to choose a more manageable lens is at the top of the list.
The Essential Steps to Impressive Video Conferencing
If you want to learn more about looking and sounding great for your next online interaction, then I think you'll very much enjoy my online workshop, The Essential Steps to Impressive Video Conferencing.
This 1-hour deep dive focuses on the three major areas of successful online interaction: Audio, Video, and Environment. During the course, I walk you through a variety of techniques that range from using gear that you already have, to improving your chops through a few inexpensive purchases.
The course is available on our Nimble Photographer Workshop Page for $14.95.
I have tons of great tips and techniques waiting for you there. If you want to get serious about how you appear during online meetings, classes, interviews, and family interactions, then you definitely will want to watch this course.
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