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What is a Telephoto Lens?
A telephoto lens is a lens with a long-focal-length. This lens magnifies object that are far away and helps you take a picture from a distance without disturbing your subject. Telephoto lenses are those that have a focal length of 100mm and above. The longer the focal length, the greater the magnification will be.
Is a Telephoto Lens the Same as a Zoom Lens?
Let’s differentiate the telephoto lens from zoom lens, as most beginners confuse these two. As mentioned above, telephoto lenses have a focal length of 100mm and above. A zoom lens refers to a lens that is capable of shooting at a variety of focal lengths. For example a 24-105 zoom lens can be used at 24mm, or you can “zoom” the lens in to shoot at a focal length of 105mm. Below are two examples of images taken with the 24-105. This shot was taken at 24mm:
This shot was taken in a few minutes later with the same lens, at 105mm:
Telephoto Lens Main Uses
There are different uses of this lens which makes it an essential tool for every photographer. This simple lens perfects your images without having to risk getting close to the subject.
Its uses include:
Bringing Distant Subjects Close. This lens makes objects that are far away look closer. This will give you a perfect image when you have mountains or a city skyline in the background, as they are pulled closer through the phenomenon of lens compression, adding interest to your photo.
Making Your Subjects Stand Out. To draw the attention to a particular subject, you can use this lens to make them stand out. With the use of a telephoto lens, you can isolate a subject even when it’s far from you, and the lens compression (mentioned above) isolates your subject even more. The below image was taken with a 135mm lens.
Perfecting Wildlife Shots. The lens closes any distance between the photographer and the targeted subject, making it ideal for wildlife shots. You get images that look like you were very close to the wildlife. This makes images amazingly unique, as no one dares get close to some of the wild animals. This will also help you capture the animal in its natural positions, as it does feel your presence, which can scare it away.
Portraiture. Telephoto lenses are great for portraits as they really help to isolate your subject from the background. And not only do they provide a rich, creamy background, they also flatter the features of the human face because they do not distort the final image like a wider angle lens.
Capturing The Action. When taking pictures of fast speed action such as flying and motorsport events, you must use longer focal lengths lens. You can capture unique shots with a telephoto lens and the action looks close. You need fast shutter speed, depending on the speed of the subject.
How To Support Your Telephoto Lens
Telephoto lenses get shaken easily during shots because they are heavy from the internal glass that gives them their extreme magnification factor. When using long lenses, you may need a monopod or a tripod to bear some of the weight of the lens so that you can avoid camera shake and keep your photos sharp.
Using telephoto lenses opens up so many opportunities with your photography. Bring the mountains close or reach your subject without hinderance. Compared to images taken with a wide angle, your photos will get a drastic change and a new feeling is added. Being a photographer, you will have the power to choose the effect you want in a photo. It’s not the scene that will determine this. The telephoto lens gives you one more option.