Can You Use A DSLR Camera Without Lenses?

Professional video producers often call this absurd behavior “free-lensing. “Lenses are sacrosanct in every camera. Whether you can shoot on your DSLR camera without one, the opinion has always been varied. What do you aim to achieve when shooting without a lens? Are you using the body alone? You probably have only the camera body with you, without the lens, when something worth shooting catches your eye? Will the camera bodywork in isolation? Here’s an answer to all those questions.

Can you use a DSLR camera without lens? Most people say that a DSLR camera won’t work without the lens. You simply can’t shoot.  However, it all comes down to the camera model you are using. For some  Canon DSLR camera models, the camera can take in light without the lens in place. These cameras can activate the shutter in the lens’s absence. However, most other  DSLR camera models are obsolete without their lenses screwed on. Besides, exposing the camera sensors to glaring light, for any period will easily destroy your camera aperture.

A DSLR camera comprises two key parts. The body is the main part. It holds all the mirrors and sensors. The lenses, on the other hand, are detachable in most cameras. In fact, I call them ” screw on.” Using the camera body without the lenses is a questionable skill. You simply can’t do it with most cameras. While some people who claim that they can hack their way through this, trying to shoot with no lens is like shooting on a pin-hole camera. For most, they wouldn’t even try it, and that’s the way it should be!

What’ Makes The Lenses Important In Your DSLR Camera?

What exactly do lenses do? Are they just some auxiliary part of the camera that makes it look great? Why are camera lenses so expensive? Can I just buy the camera as on itself, and use it without the lens kit, because I can’t afford both for now?

No. They are not. In fact, they are just as crucial as the camera itself. Here are the functions of a lens in a DSLR camera.

Light Control

One thing that the lenses do is to control the amount of light that strikes your camera. In a DSLR camera, the mirrors react differently to different light ranges.

When the light amount is relatively, the lens apertures widen to let in more light. In case the light increases, the same apertures adjust to let in just the amount of light needed to get a great photo.

When shooting in low light intensity areas, you will notice that the ISO value on your videos increases. This means that your video will have more noise, and will have more noise. Generally, we are talking about low-quality footage.

If the light striking the DSLR sensors is a tad bit too much, your videos will be washed out, with nothing to write home about.

Can you control the light without lenses?

No. Even the most complicated light rigs won’t save your camera sensors if you have no lenses.

Without lenses, all the light on the scene bursts into your sensors. Lenses work on the primary principle that they can either focus or disperse the light (this is simple sixth-grade science.)” For camera lenses, it’s all about focusing the light onto the sensors.

Apart from not shooting at all, you can neither focus, or zoom in with no lenses.

When you try shooting without the lenses (if at all the camera doesn’t show you an error message on the screen, and fail to open the aperture), you will expose your camera sensors to the amount of light in the room. Needless to say, this is completely annihilating the quality of anything you shoot, and destroying the camera itself. Someone said that  this is just like ” microwaving your camera.”

Sensor Protection

The sensors are housed within the camera itself. They are the light receptors and the features that make the camera work.

In retrospect, I would say that the sensors are the holy grail of the DSLR camera. Without the sensors, the camera would be nothing more than a nicely designed pinhole camera, that can’t shoot anything.

If you have used a DSLR camera at any point, you should know the lenses act as a cover and protector to the camera’s delicate sensors. That’s also the reason why we don’t expose the camera body to light for any long periods after unscrewing the lens body. When shooting, the lens does the same thing as the sensor cover, which you cap on the camera during storage.

If you are among the pioneer group of people that want to experiment with free-lensing, you might as well be ready to sacrifice your camera at the altar of such daring escapades, or to take it for a complete cleanout right after, if you have not exposed the sensors for far too long.

How About Using Low-Budget Lenses?

There are two things that will make you contemplate shooting without lenses.

  • You just want to try out something new. There are some video producers who would try free-lensing out just for the thrill. It’s an expensive affair if you think about it.
  • You are shopping on a really low budget, and couldn’t afford the sensors kit along with your desired DSLR camera.

If you fall into the second group, there should be a way around it for you. However, members of the first click of thrill-seekers can not really be helped, can they? After all, their decisions come from a conscious understanding of the inside workings of a camera.

Since you can’t risk using your camera without the lens, what options do you have? Is this the cue to live the video production stage?

No. You can’t lose your passion over a goddamned lens!

Here’s the alternative to dipping your camera in oil (that’s what free-lensing is in my opinion), you should buy an entry-level camera, together with entry-level lenses.

Which Entry Level DSLR Cameras  Are Good For You?

For beginners,  DSLR cameras with compact bodies are a better choice than the conventional detachable body types. Buying such a camera means that you don’t have to dig into your pockets once more, to buy a lens kit.

The Nikon D500 is one of the best compact-body cameras in the market. Not only does it come at a reasonable price, it also shoots great videos too.

Besides it, you can also get entry-level compact body cameras like the Panasonic  Lumix LX15 which is a cheaper, and lighter version of the legendary Panasonic LumixLX100.

Other compact DSLR cameras like  the Sony DSC-100FM and the Panasonic DMC-LX15EG  also make great alternatives to the whole lens-camera conversation.

While such cameras may not be as powerful, and capable as the high-end cameras that require multiple lens kits, they do the job quite well for a beginning video producer.

Since most of the entry-level cameras go for anything between $200 to $700, they also save you quite some amount of cash, if you think about it. You shouldn’t be worried about getting an expensive DSLR camera and having to put it in storage because the lenses to accompany it was way out of your reach.

Wrap Up

DSLR cameras are arguable, the greatest line of cameras ever made. They completely revolutionized how we do our video production. However, most DSLR cameras require lenses to work and to work well if at all.

Taking care of any DSLR camera also involves taking care of its lenses. The lenses need wiping, cleaning, setting, and careful storage. The camera, on the other hand, is just like a car. It needs wiping, constant sensor covering and a lot of things done to maintain it.

One thing that remains clear, is that lenses are crucial. Any video producer worth his salt can’t live without a fair amount of them.

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