Here’s How a Dramatic Scene Looks Like When Shot with a 2000mm Lens

Can you make your scene extremely dramatic by only changing the focal length of your lens? Well, the following scene from 2011 critically acclaimed flick “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” proves it’s completely possible. Not only that but the effect that the optical illusion this lens creates is quite astounding, to say the least, as it totally changes the mood and the dynamics of the scene.

In a nutshell, this massive ultra-telephoto lens compresses the foreground and background in a way, so they appear to be very close together. The 2000mm lens keeps the actors and the plane at relatively the same size, thus adding incredible tension to the scene. Kudos to Director Tomas Alfredson and DP Hoyte van Hoytema for this brilliant creative decision and the unique aesthetics they brought to the table. And, if you still haven’t seen the whole film I highly recommend it. It’s a dramatic story that takes place in the bleak days of the Cold War when espionage veteran is forced from semi-retirement to uncover a Soviet agent within MI6. And, here is the scene itself.

Dramatic Filmmaking with a 2000mm Lens from Vashi Nedomansky on Vimeo.

Further, if you are wondering where you can find such lens, the best option probably would be to rent it (if you find it) or just look for one on Ebay. Keep in mind, though, that a second-hand lens with this focal length may set you back more than $20, 000, so it’s not a lens that you would carry around in the trunk of your car.

But, if you really want to create a different mood or add different aesthetics to your film the lens choice is something that should be considered as it might help tremendously. Picking the right lens is certainly a powerful asset in filmmaking that can not only set the tone and change the overall look of your film, but it can also immerse your audience even deeper into the story.


You can achieve a similar effect, by utilizing other more conventional lenses, while paying careful attention to composition, thus creating outstanding shots that convey all the raw emotion and feeling that comes through your lens. Unfortunately, this is something that can’t be learned overnight, but if you invest enough time and effort while being patient enough to push your skill set and talent in the right direction, sooner than later, the results will come. And, the above shot is nothing but another solid proof of this statement.

[via: ISO1200 Magazine, source: Vashi Visuals]

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  • Rene Hazekamp

    Looks like they used a green screen and a couple of hairdryers, not that impressive

    • Vlady Radev

      If you say so…:)

  • christopher

    Thank you very much for this insight – I really appreciate this kind of artistic insight into filmmaking. I saw this scene myself when it came out and I remember being moved at the sense of hoplessness and desolation it created, but I didn’t know why

    • Vlady Radev

      You’re welcome, Christopher!