Telephoto lenses have many talents, and can be used for a range of different purposes. Whether you aspire to be a documentary filmmaker, a portrait image whizz or sports photographer, there’s a telephoto lens for you. If you’re in need of some information on this type of lenses, plus some tips for usage and how to create the best shots possible – we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in!
What Is A Telephoto Lens?
Telephoto lenses are super popular among both amateur and professional photographers – and for good reason!
These lenses have a long reach, which allows you to photograph a far away subject, magnifying the subject in the frame. Lenses that are considered telephoto usually have a focal length of 60mm+. This isn’t the same as a zoom lens, because telephoto lenses come in a variety of different focal lengths. Some examples include 70-200m or 300mm+ because unlike zoom lenses, it’s not based on whether the lens zooms, but instead how long the focal length is.
Why Do I Need A Telephoto Lens?
1. To Make Subjects Appear Closer
This is the bread and butter of the telephoto lens, serving as its most obvious purpose. Telephoto lenses give you the power to take photos of subjects that are far away, which is perfect for capturing things you may not physically want to get close too (such as avoiding being eaten by a lion, which is fair). This is also perfect for:
- Sporting games and events
- Wildlife photography
- Wedding photography
- Capturing proposals and other surprise situations without being spotted
These lenses also improve the visual relationship between subject and environment by creating a compression effect. This is similar to how our brains see the relation between object and background. In simple terms, telephoto lenses provide more possibilities for capturing far away subjects in a more visually appealing way than wide angles.
2. To Emphasize Blurred Backgrounds
We’ve all seen breathtaking images with a focused subject and artily blurred background – and those are often achieved with telephoto lenses. For this reason, they work great for portrait photography – utilizing a wide aperture and long lens (such as a 70-200mm telephoto lens shot at 200m with an aperture of f/2.8). This will deliver a dreamy, blurred background and sharp main subject in your frame.
3. To Take Incredible Portraits
The range of telephoto lenses mean that they’re great for capturing far away subjects, but are also really flattering for shoulder-up portraits.
This is because shooting at longer focal lengths creates an effect in which the subject in the foreground appears smaller compared to the background. The bonus of this is that is makes facial features appear more proportional, balanced and flattering.
What Telephoto Focal Lengths Are There?
Here are a couple of examples of some different telephoto focal lengths, and what type of photography they work best for!
Best For: Portraits, Wildlife, Events, Sports
Arguably the most versatile telephoto lens focal length, 70-200mm lenses produce incredible images. You can shoot without being too far from the subject whilst being able to capture fast moving, distant subjects. As mentioned earlier, using a wide aperture will also blur your background and create a nice isolation effect.
Best For: Portraits, Events
Another great lens for portraits, 85mm Prime lenses produce similar blurred backgrounds and compression illusions for your images. These lenses also allow you to shoot at a wider aperture than the 70-200mm, making it great for situations that have lower lighting.
Best For: Wildlife, Sports
These lenses are longer on the short end, giving you more scope to reach subjects that are more distant. However, they don’t usually feature as wide of a maximum aperture, and can be quite cumbersome and heavy. 100-400mm lenses are the best for taking picture of far off, moving subjects – making them perfect for wildlife photography.
Best For: Portraits, Weddings, Wildlife, Sports
This is another great lens for portrait or wedding photographers. The edge that the 135mm has over the others mentioned is that it has better compression illusions and has more reach than the 85mm, for example. If you want your subjects to appear close together, this is the one for you.
Now that you’ve heard all about telephoto lenses, allow us to leave you with some final times for using them.
- Stabilization will most likely be more of a concern than with other lenses. Many telephoto lenses have built-in stabilization but if not – we could recommend using a tripod when shooting at longer focal lengths. You can also try using faster shutter speeds and reducing camera shake as much as possible.
- Wide Apertures will help with low lighting, moving subjects and having a faster shutter to get the exact shot you dreamed of. This is also helpful for creating images with a shallow depth of field.
- As mentioned above, Shallow Depth of Field is a real talent of the telephoto lens. Shooting at an aperture of f/2.8 with some separation between the subject and background will allow for a lovely blurring effect.
How Audiosocket Can Help
We hope that you’ve enjoyed our article on Telephoto Lenses, and have gained some more knowledge and confidence in starting to use them!
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For more photography tips, check out our articles on Camera Filters, Nikon NX Studio, Buying Used Cameras & Lenses, Shooting Slow Motion For Beginners, Travel Vlogging Equipment & Green Screen Lighting Tips