Parfocal vs Varifocal Lens: What’s the Difference?
Choosing the right lens for the job is imperative for a photographer or cinematographer. So what is the difference between Parfocal and Varifocal lenses?
- Varifocal lenses are primarily designed for photography and DSLR use.
- Parfocal lenses are designed for cinema and broadcast use.
With Varifocal lenses, when you zoom in you are “varying” the focus. This type of lens was designed for photography so any reframing of the lenses will change the focus. This works fine for still images but can be a pain for video capture. For this reason, Varifocal lenses were not designed to maintain focus throughout the zoom range.
With Parfocal lenses, you can zoom in on your subject, focus, and zoom out and the subject always stays in focus. If you do the same thing with a Varifocal lens your focus will drift all over the place.
Another difference between Varifocal and Parfocal is the breathing. Varifocal breathe significantly, displaying an increase or decrease of image size when you pull focus. A Parfocal lens has very minimal breathing when pulling focus.
Check out the video below by the good folks over at Vistek | Your Visual Imaging and get the full breakdown.
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