Why Should I Use a Telephoto Lens?
September 15, 2014
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When you venture into using a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera with interchangeable lenses, it can be difficult to know which lens to reach for and when. A telephoto lens, also known as a long lens or telephoto zoom lens, is one of the physically larger lenses that serves a few specific purposes. Many start at the medium-range 70 mm focal length and can zoom to 100 mm, 200 mm or even further, while some are fixed focal lengths, such as 400 mm or 800 mm.
Do you love the look of professional high-school senior portraits or close-ups of blossoming flowers? Those images with soft, blurred backgrounds are created with telephoto lenses.
Duplicate this look in your own photos by moving away from the subject and zooming in with the lens to fill the frame with the subject matter. Use a low aperture number on the camera settings such as f2.8 or f4.0 to create what's known as a shallow depth of field (DOF) to blur the background.
If you're photographing a busy scene such as a football scrimmage or parade and want to focus on the moves of just one person, telephoto lenses are the way to go.
Aim and focus the telephoto lens at the person you want to photograph and track them in the frame as they move about, then click the shutter button when you're ready to capture a picture. Telephoto lenses make it simple to isolate individuals in group situations by shooting close-ups.
Sometimes it's impossible to get as close to a subject as you'd like. For example, when you visit a national monument, visitors are often kept a safe distance away on a viewing platform. This is a great opportunity to get a close-up with your camera without moving your feet.
Use a tripod to support the camera and long lens. Choose a longer focal length, such as 200 mm or 300 mm, and use a steady hand or remote control to fire the shutter button on the camera. Your images will be much closer than those taken with a simple point-and-shoot or cell phone camera.
When do you prefer to use a telephoto lens? Tell us in the comments below!
Photo credit: Flickr