Blender Camera | Zero To Hero

From Zero to Blender Camera Hero

That question everyone gets at some point in their career. What is this 3D stuff you’re doing?

The thing I like to do is let them imagine a film set. From the setpieces to the lights and the actors to the cameras. All of these digital tools are there for us to command only they’re digitally in our computers.

Today I want to dive into everything you need to know about the Blender Camera.

As always this post could be a recap for the linked youtube video, or you might have found this first and prefer reading your tutorials, we got you covered too.

What is a Blender Camera?

To capture the amazing actions you’ve animated you need a camera in Blender. This camera will record the animations you’ve done and output them to any desired format.

This process is known as rendering.

Rendering is simply not possible without a camera in Blender.

A camera object defines the boundaries of what is captured. Like with the human eye, light rays travel and bounce off objects. The eye, like the Blender camera, catches those rays. Then all that is captured will be processed and displayed.

Basics of the Blender camera

Let’s start with how you add a camera to Blender.

Use the add menu in the 3D viewport then follow the dropdown menu till you find the camera. If you’re anything like me, then shortcuts are king.

Use Shift + A to add something to use scene. Then find the camera in the pop-up window.

Now that the camera sits happily in your scene, let us take a look through the lens. In the navigation bar, next to object mode, go to view.
This menu unfolds there you find cameras. Multiple options will appear, choose ‘active camera’. Right behind this option, it will state the shortcut, Numpad + 0.

So with your camera selected, use the channels on the right-hand side in the item menu.

Here you can adjust the Location, Rotation, and Scale

You could also use, for every object in Blender, G to move, R to rotate, and S to scale.

Multiple Blender camera’s

When you have multiple cameras in one Blender file you might want to switch between them at some point. So how do you accomplish this?

Go forward in the timeline, say to frame 40, and create another marker.

This allows you to bind a camera to a marker, which will make it active when the timeline cursor hits the set marker.

To bind a marker to a camera you select the camera. Then you can press Ctrl+ B to bind the camera to your marker.

Go to the other marker on the timeline. Now, select your other camera in the viewport and use Ctrl + B to bind.

Now also this camera is bound to its marker.

Note: If you are not a fan of shortcuts, click on the marker menu, which should unfold. From there click ‘Bind Camera to Markers’

Lens Settings

The first thing we notice here is this Blender camera is set to perspective.


Perspective is how we see the world around us. Objects in the distance will appear smaller than objects in the foreground, and parallel lines such as roads or buildings will appear to converge as they get farther away in any direction.

Focal length. This is the distance between the lens and the sensor. Changing the focal length will create a zoom-in/out. Like scrolling the focus ring of a DSLR camera.

As you can see here at the lens units, the lens is set in millimeters.

You can also choose the field of view, which is a setting in degrees.

DSLR cameras or rather most cameras use a millimeter setting. So we artists usually stick to this as well.

Below the lens units, we find the shift values. These settings, Shift X and Y I never ever touched in the 7 years I’m using Blender

Lastly, clip start and end are pretty handy to know about. If something is close to the camera that you want to include or exclude from the shot, tweak the clip start. On the other hand, tweak the clip end to get a faraway object included or excluded from the shot.


Under camera type, we can switch from perspective to orthographic.

In orthographic view objects will always appear to be their actual size, no matter the distance from the camera. This means that parallel lines are actually displayed as parallel, no lines are converging like in the perspective view.

Really, the only thing you should know about the orthographic view that is different from perspective is this orthographic scale.
Since there is no focal length in the orthographic view, you can use the orthographic scale to get some cropping effect.

This is similar to a zoom.


Last but not least, we can switch our blender camera from orthographic view to panoramic, which can mean an image up to 360 degrees around.

Back when I was studying 3D animation, for example, I use this to recreate my student dorm.

For this 360 video, I used panorama type equirectangular.

This panoramic type is probably one of the most common. You might recognize this from seeing an HDRI image.


The panoramic type equisolid is one of the fisheye types.

These lenses typically have a lot of distortion and are wide-angle lenses.

Fisheye Equesolid

The fisheye equidistant is another panoramic type.

However, this doesn’t match a physical lens, you might find some use case for it. Nevertheless, it’s good to know it exists, if only in the back of your mind. 

Equidistant Fisheye

In your world settings, you can find you can switch from equirectangular to mirror ball as well.

The mirror ball used to be a technique to capture the environment on a film set. With the goal to capture reflections that would make it easier to integrate CG objects in live-action footage

Mirror ball

Last but not least, we have a fisheye lens polynomial, which to be honest, is quite advanced and goes over my head as well.

Fisheye Lens Polynomial

The thing I want to say is that this can be used to model both fish eye and perspective lenses.

So basically this can be used to model a specific custom camera in Blender for your shot.

Sensor size of the Blender camera

Under the heading Camera in Blender, we can find a sensor fit, which is set to auto. Just below here you’ll find the sensor size per default this is set to 36 millimeters.

These settings adjust properties that relate to a physical camera body.

By default, Blender calculates a square sensor size.

If we switch from auto to horizontal, the default is set to a sensor size of 36 millimeters by 24 millimeters, which matches with a full-frame sensor, also known as a 35-millimeter camera.

Click the list icon, next to the heading ‘camera’, to find several presets that are available. This list contains a variety of existing cameras to match.

For example, I like to choose a full-frame camera.

By changing these settings, you indirectly influence the field of view, where we earlier looked to change the focal length to do this.

Adjusting the focal length is the preferred method. In most cases, unless your goal
is to match a camera in Blender to a physical camera and lens combination.

VFX artists will have to make sure their Blender camera is matching the camera properties of the physical camera used on set to ensure a seamless merge between CG and live-action footage.

Safe areas

The next Blender camera setting to discuss is safe areas. These are also known as title safe, safe margins, or sometimes safe guides.

With a variety of brands came differences in manufacturing, which could ultimately lead
to cropped images on screen.

To combat that safe guides/areas or margins were invented.

Unfortunately, most HD or 4K TVs still have overscan, which results in the edges of your image being cropped.

Also, not all phones are actually 16×9 either,

And that’s why you should, still, consider title safes and action safes. Use the checkbox to enable or disable the safe areas for your camera in Blender.

Background Images

You can put a background picture in your camera view. This can be extremely helpful in numerous situations:

Some people use it for modeling. Others for animation references. If you want to mix and match live-action footage with 3d renders it can be a great tool as well.

You have the option to play movie formats as well.

Press add image. Browse to your image.

Make sure you tick the checkbox next to the ‘background images’ heading. Press add image. Browse to your image.

From there you can fine-tune the opacity with a slider. To benefit from this the most set the depth to in front instead of back. This will display your image in front of your 3d scene.
Now you can see the opacity do its work

You can either stretch, fit or crop the image, these are what we call mapping properties.

Doesn’t your image line up with your 3d scene, then adjust the offset on the x-axis or the y-axis. Change the rotation of the image or scale the image, if you like.

It’s easy to flip the image either on the x or y-axis in Blender’s camera too.

Of course, when you’re done you don’t want this overlay. So just click the x right next to the filename and below ‘add image’.

And for good measure, uncheck next to heading Background images as well.

Viewport display

Let’s start with the first display setting which is the size.

From the camera view, you probably won’t see anything happen if you change the size.

If you go into the 3d viewport you can see the change in size.
And this will not affect any of the camera properties. This only changes the display size of the camera.

You could also change the scale setting right in the scale channels, which basically does the same.

The next options are checkboxes, which will display a variety of overlays.

Starting with limits, tick the limits checkbox to visualize the focus distance.

This shows up as a cross in your 3D viewport.

Also, the clipping start and end values are displayed here, as a white line ending in small dots.

Similarly, the mist checkbox enables the visualization of the start and end value of your mist pass. A white line with small dots on the end.

Enable the mist layer in the layers tab. Then you can adjust those values in the world tab.

The next thing on the list is the sensor.

This checkbox enables an overlay in the camera view.

A full-frame sensor, which has a 3×2 ratio, is getting cropped to 16×9 dimensions.
You can visualize that by ticking the checkbox right here.

Tick the ‘name’ checkbox if you want your active camera view to display the name of your set camera. Which in most cases is Camera.

The Passepartout feature might be one of my favorites.

It allows you to block out the surrounding scene and lets you focus on everything in-camera or the other way around.
So you want to animate something coming in the camera. You might want to check the timing and spacing when it’s about to come into frame.

In that case, bring the Passepartout value down.

Depth of Field

Depth of field is probably one of the more exciting and practical features for most of you.

The distance determines the point of lies in pure focus. Everything before and after that point becomes blurry.

To showcase this, you could enable your limits display, as we’ve seen before.

If you change the distance, you can see this cross moving along the path. Then the focus object will let you choose an object to determine the focal distance, replacing the distance value.

Changing the F stop allows you to control the amount of blur for the back- and foreground.
Having a low F stop is also known as a shallow depth of field. Having a larger F stop is also known as a deep or large depth of field.

Now we come to blades.

This setting has eluded me for so long and I’m glad I know it because it can create quite an awesome effect.

A shallow depth of field can create something called a bokeh.

By setting the blades to three we can create a triangular bokeh effect. From three up the unquote subdivision will increase and the bokeh will become more circular from then on.

The rotation kind of speaks for itself.
But hey, it is a degree setting, that will rotate your bokeh accordingly.
Of course, when it’s just a perfect circle, this is harder to see when it is a triangle, a hexagon, or an octagon.
You can see the rotation more clearly.

Last but not least, the ratio changes the offset horizontally or vertically of your bokeh.

This is a distortion effect on top of your bokeh. A setting of one shows no distortion.
When you set a number below one this will cause a horizontal distortion.

And maybe you already guessed it.

A number higher than one will cause a vertical distortion.

Blender Camera vs Real Camera

I’ll add these final thoughts here because I want this to be as complete a guide as possible. And to be quite frank at the time of recording the video tutorial I completely forgot about this. (So this is a nice bonus for the readers)

For people who are familiar with physical cameras, you know that factors like f-stop, shutter speed, focal length, and ISO are not only nice effects.

When you adjust one of these settings there are consequences, predominantly for the exposure/lighting of your shot. Creating a shallow depth of field will open up the aperture thus letting in more light falling onto the sensor.

Such things then need to be accounted for by changing the ISO or shutter speed.

CGI artists don’t have to worry about the interrelations between these properties and the exposure of a shot. (And other consequences it could have.) The Blender camera doesn’t change exposure when the f-stop changes.

This isn’t a problem and is probably dealt with by artists intuitively, yet I still want to have said it.

When matching CG renders with a live-action shot, even when you’ve matched every camera setting perfectly in Blender, you still have to color correct the shot in your preferred compositor. Or find other ways to account for the exposure differences.

Secondly, real cameras shoot with a shutter speed. A rule of thumb used to be double the frame rate for your shutter speed, so 25 fps over 1/50. This was used in film and cinema to create motion blur.

Changing your frame rate in Blender, although a render setting, doesn’t affect the motion blur.

Motion blur needs to be enabled in the render settings.
If you want to learn more about motion blur blender and its related render settings, let me know in the comments.

Now you know everything you need to set up your Blender camera.

Here I’ll show you how to easily get butter smooth camera animations.