Camera Angles: Everything You Need to Know

Camera angles, or camera shots, are the perspectives a director chooses to capture with a video camera when filming a scene. Many scenes include several different camera angles or shots to add more meaning or emotion.

10 Essential Camera Angles

Start with these 10 essential angles.

See these angles in action.

Aerial Shot

Aerial shots show subjects from above.

Scene from “Me and You”

They can reveal significant distance.

Scene from “Blade Runner”

They can also show aerial activity.

Scene from “Black Hawk Down”

Watch an aerial shot in action.

Dutch Angle Shot

Dutch angle shots show subjects at a disorienting tilt.

Scene from “Mission Impossible”

Watch a Dutch angle shot.

Eye-Level Shot

Eye-level shots show subjects at human eye level.

Scene from “The Great Gatsby”

They connect with the subject.

Scene from “Game of Thrones”

They create intimate moments.

Scene from “Forrest Gump”

They can reveal insights.

Scene from Alice in “Wonderland”

Ground Level Shot

These shots show subjects from the ground.

Scene from “Burn After Reading”

They put you on the same level.

Scene from “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi”

They can show action.

Scene from “Black Swan”

They can add emotion.

Scene from “Full Metal Jacket”

High Angle Shot

These shots show subjects from above eye level.

Scene from “Psycho”

They show weakness.

Scene from “The Avengers”

They add vulnerability.

Scene from “The Princess Bride”

Watch a high angle shot.

Hip Level Shot

Hip level shots place the camera at the waist.

Scene from “Reservoir Dogs”

They offer a new angle.

Scene from “Punch Drunk Love”

Knee Level Shot

These shots place the camera at the knees.

Scene from “Home Alone”

They show superiority.

Scene from “Revenge of the Sith”

Low Angle Shot

Low angle shots look up at subjects from below.

Scene from “The Avengers”

They reveal power.

Scene from “The Matrix”

They indicate control.

Scene from “The Empire Strikes Back”

Watch a low angle shot.

Overhead Shot

Overhead shots show subjects from directly above.

Scene from “The Great Gatsby”

They’re also called bird’s-eye shots.

Scene from “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”

Watch a bird’s-eye shot.

Shoulder Level Shot

These shots place the camera at the shoulders.

Scene from “Homecoming”

They make subjects look relatable.

Scene from “Black Panther”

Camera Shot Size Overview

Filmmakers also use camera shot sizes to film scenes.

Learn how to make a camera shot list.

Choker Shot

Choker shots show subjects from forehead to chin.

Scene from “The Usual Suspects”

Close-Up Shot

Close-up shots focus on subjects’ faces.

Scene from “Insecure”

Cowboy Shot

Cowboy shots show subjects from mid-thigh up.

Scene from “Wonder Woman”

They originated in Western movies.

Scene from “Stagecoach”

They make subjects look confident.

Scene from “The King’s Speech”

Cut-In Shot

Cut-in shots show close-ups of an element from the main scene.

Cutaway Shot

Cutaway shots cut to show something other than the main scene.

Establishing Shot

Establishing shots set the scene.

Scene from “The Day After Tomorrow”

Learn how to stage an establishing shot.

Extreme Close-Up Shot

Extreme close-ups show subjects from inches away.

Scene from “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

They focus on subjects’ eyes.

Scene from “X-Men: First Class”

They show tiny details.

Scene from “Black Swan”

They connect with viewers.

Scene from “Little Miss Sunshine”

Extreme Wide Shot

Extreme wide shots show subjects from a far distance.

Scene from “WALL-E”

They make subjects look small.

Scene from “Mad Max: Fury Road”

Full Shot

Full shots show subjects from head to toe.

Scene from “Toy Story”

They show the whole subject.

Scene from “Django Unchained”

They can show movement.

Scene from “Guardians of the Galaxy”

Master Shot

Master shots are uninterrupted views of a scene.

Medium Close-Up Shot

Medium close-ups show subjects from the chest up.

Scene from “No Country for Old Men”

Medium Shot

Medium shots show subjects from the waist up.

Scene from “Hunger Games”

They also show the environment.

Scene from “X-Men: Days of Future Past”

Medium Wide Shot

Medium wide shots show subjects from the knees up.

Scene from “The Usual Suspects”

Point of View Shot

Point of view (POV) shots reveal what the subject sees.

Scene from “Pulp Fiction”

They add drama.

Scene from “Mad Max”

Watch a POV shot.

See how POV shots work.

Reaction Shot

Reaction shots show the subject’s response to the prior shot.

Scene from “Psycho”

Wide Shot

Wide shots show subjects in their surroundings.

Scene from “Mad Max: Fury Road”

They reveal relationships with settings.

Scene from “The Martian”

Camera Framing

Camera framing provides even more interesting shots.

Learn about shot framing.

Over-the-Hip Shot

These shots show subjects from behind the hip of other characters.

Scene from “Minority Report”

Over-the-Shoulder Shot

These shots show subjects from behind other characters.

Scene from “Spider Man: The Homecoming”

They show emotion.

Scene from “Titanic”

They reveal drama.

Scene from “Westworld”

Watch an example of an over-the-shoulder shot here.

Reverse Angle Shot

Reverse angle shots show the other side of the prior shot.

Single Shot

Single shots show one subject.

Scene from “True Grit”

They can also show the setting.

Scene from “Iron Man”

They can show conflict.

Scene from “Armageddon”

Three Shot

Three shots show three subjects.

Scene from “The Interview”

They can use various angles.

Scene from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

Two Shot

These shots show two subjects.

Scene from “Pulp Fiction”

They can be comedic.

Scene from “The Matrix Reloaded”

Camera Focus

Changing camera focus creates unique shots.

Learn how to use camera focus.

Deep Focus

These shots put everything in focus.

Scene from “12 Angry Men”

They show extensive detail.

Scene from “Detroit”

Rack Focus

These shots shift the focus.

Watch rack focus shots.

Shallow Focus

These shots focus on the subject.

Scene from “Son of Saul”

Backgrounds stay out of focus.

Scene from “The Social Network”

Instead, they emphasize the subject.

Scene from “The Night Of”

Soft Focus

These shots lack sharp focus.

Scene from “Carrie”

Split Diopter

These shots have two focal lengths.

Scene from “Jaws”

Tilt-Shift Focus

These shots have selective focus.

Scene from “A Serious Man”

They have unusual perspective.

Scene from “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”

Watch some tilt-shift shots here.

Camera Tools and Mechanisms

Camera tools make creative shots.

Crane Shot

These shots use cranes for height.

Watch a crane shot.

Drone Shot

Drones can show scenes from far above.

Watch a drone shot.

Gimbal Shot

Gimbals rotate the camera.

Watch some examples of gimbal shots.

Handheld Shot

These shots use handheld cameras.

Watch handheld shots.

Jib Shot

Jibs are similar to cranes.

Watch jib shots.

Slider Shot

Sliders move the camera smoothly.

Watch some examples of slider shots.

See how to create slider shots.

Steadicam Shot

Steadicams are stabilized cameras that can move.

Watch these examples of Steadicam shots.

Tripod Shot

Tripods hold cameras securely.

Learn about tripods, how they work, and why they’re useful.

Wire Shot

These shots move the camera along a wire.

Observe these examples of wire shots.

Camera Movements

The right camera movements can create compelling shots.

Learn how camera movement works.

Arc Shot

These shots show the camera moving around the subject.

Watch this arc shot to see how it can impact the mood in a scene.

Crab Shot

These are horizontal dolly shots.

Watch a crab shot.

Dolly Shot

Dolly shots move the camera on tracks.

See the dolly effect.

Long Take

These shots are films with a single take.

Pan Shot

These shots show horizontal camera movement.

Watch pan shots.

Static Shot

These shots lack camera movement, staying fixed on a certain point instead.

Watch a static shot in this example from “Step Brothers.”

Swish/Whip Pan Shot

These shots show blurred movement.

Learn how to shoot a whip pan.

Watch a whip pan.

Swish/Whip Tilt Shot

These shots show vertical blurred movement.

Watch these swish tilt shots.

Tilt Shot

These shots show vertical camera movement.

Watch tilt shots.

Tracking Shot

Tracking shots require the camera to follow the subject.

They can heighten drama.

Watch tracking shots.

Zoom Shot

Zoom shots adjust the focal length during the shot.

Watch zoom shots.

See zoom shots in action.

If you’re interested in learning more about camera angles, apply to Nashville Film Institute to gain professional qualifications as a filmmaker.

Contact NFI

Learn why 95% of NFI graduates find industry jobs upon graduation

Book a Free Campus Tour

If You Like Filmmaking... Make It A Career!
Download NFI's Free Brochure:

Enter NFI's Summer Short Film Contest!

High School & College Students Only
Win $500.00 for you and $500.00 for your school!