Optic Matters: The Power of Telephoto


When taking photos, the type of lens you use is crucial to the results you want to produce. This is why photographers use certain lenses for portraits, capturing immense landscapes, making miniature objects seem larger than life, or photographing distant subjects in intricate detail. And to bring a distant subject seemingly “closer” to you, a telephoto lens is the weapon of choice.

Photo via rs-photographic

A telephoto lens is a type of long-focus lens in which the actual physical length is shorter than the focal length. They are sometimes broken down into medium telephoto which range from 85 to 135 mm and super telephoto which cover up to about 300mm. They are customarily your long, zoom lenses. The higher the mm number, the farther you are able to zoom in.

A telephoto lens is a very powerful tool. It can make the depth of field appear shallower than it actually is. With a narrow angle of view, it can lessen the actual distance between nearby and faraway objects in your composition.

Photographing wildlife
Telephoto lenses are typically used in wildlife photography. Animals are very sensitive to external stimuli, and may behave differently once their instinct tells them that they are being watched. A telephoto lens allows you to zoom and zero in on your subject without actual physical proximity. This is why it is ideal for photographing animals, as it allows you to capture physical features and details without disrupting their uninhibited behavior or sacrificing your own safety.

Credits: supastah2003, lisi & vicuna

While the most common use of a telephoto lens is to zoom closer to a distant subject, it is also a favorable tool for shooting portraits.

Depending on the focal length, a telephoto lens can also be used for portraiture, especially for photographing children and seizing candid moments. If animals behave differently under scrutiny, then humans have all the more reason to be conscious. With a telephoto lens, you can capture raw emotions sans the forced smiles and awkward moments.

Another reason why a telephoto lens is ideal for portraiture is because it can blur the background and isolate your subject, making the person in your portrait stand out.

Credits: dogma


Contrary to popular belief, wide-angle lenses aren’t the only type of lenses that can produce ingeniously astonishing results. Since telephoto lenses can normalize the distance between near and far objects, it is ideal for shooting landscapes with layered elements, like a hill that is relatively closer than the mountain range behind it, or a patch of trees lining a sea front. Without such “layers,” a landscape photo taken with a telephoto lens might appear flat and static.

Credits: vicuna & troch

Using a telephoto lens is pretty much like peering through a pair of binoculars, or walking closer to your subject. Have you tried using telephoto and produced amazing results? Share your tips on shooting with telephoto lens in the comments section below.

Information for this article was sourced from Wikipedia and Cambridge in Colour.

written by jillytanrad on 2013-07-17 #gear #tutorials #tipster #portraits #landscapes #telephoto #wild-life #optic-matters

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