How to use a telephoto zoom lens?

The telephoto zoom lens is one of my favorites, and I’ve been using telephoto zoom lenses for years. Before we get you into the secrets of using these long lenses, we’ll discuss some basics first.

1. Definition of the telephoto zoom lens

When you shoot with a lens set to 50mm focal length, the size of the subject will be the same as what you see in real life. If you zoom the lens down to 100mm focal length, the image will now be magnified by 2x, so the subject will look closer. Therefore, telephoto zoom lenses are defined as zoom lenses that can be enlarged to a focal length of more than 50mm.

When photographers hear the word telephoto, they usually think of long lenses with focal lengths of 70 to 500 mm or more.

Photograph nature with a telephoto zoom lens

2. What’s the use of telephoto zoom lenses?

Zoom lenses are used when you want to fill the frame with distant objects and want it to look closer. Good examples are sports or animal photography, where you can’t physically get close to the subject. Or maybe it’s possible, but you’d rather not disturb the subject and choose to shoot it naturally. This is especially useful for street photography, where you don’t want people to know they’re being photographed until after the shoot.

3. Wide-angle lens with telephoto zoom

Using a telephoto zoom lens will completely change the overall feel of the image. This is especially true when photographing objects that are far away from you. It brings not only the subject closer but all background elements closer.

For example, I live in a coastal town, where I photograph boats moored at sea with islands in the background. If I use a wide-angle landscape lens, the islands in the background look much smaller and inconsequential than when I use a telephoto zoom lens. For these types of shots, I prefer to see layers. Therefore, I will use my telephoto zoom lens.


4. How to use a telephoto zoom lens

(1) Aperture setting

The closer you are to your subject, the larger the camera aperture setting is required. This is especially true when you zoom out to the maximum focal length and fill the frame with an uneven body. For example, when I photograph animals with long noses or beaks at a zoo, I zoom out for their maximum focal length and I set the camera’s aperture to F/8. This ensures that the closest part of the face and eyes are in focus.

The fewer times you fill the frame with the main subject, the lower the F value you can set. For example, if the subject takes up only half of the scene when viewed through the rearview, setting the F value as low as possible will cause the object to be fully in focus.

Use a low aperture F value when you focus on a distant object. This will result in clear shots because your camera will shoot quickly. A good example would be if you were photographing the moon or an airplane in the sky.


(2) Accurate metering with a long focal length

In the case of backlight or complex light, the long focal length is first used to measure light in the key area, and then switch to the appropriate focal length for composition and shooting after locking the exposure parameters.

(3) Choose a suitable hood

Zoom lenses are more prone to flare than other types of lenses, so a proper hood is essential. Sometimes a slight occlusion caused by the hood is not apparent to the viewfinder until the computer looks at it later.

(4) Handheld shooting with tripod shutter speed settings

Just because it’s a long lens doesn’t mean you need to use a tripod. In fact, I rarely use a tripod when using telephoto lenses. I found them too strict in photographing birds and wildlife.

However, you do want to make sure that the shutter speed is longer than the focal length of the lens. For example, when you shrink the lens to 200mm, make sure the shutter speed is at least 1/200th of a second or faster. If you zoom in to 300mm, the shutter speed needs to be at least 1/300th of a second, etc. This will give you the best chance of getting a sharp image while holding the camera.


(5) Focus limit switch

Look at the side of the lens and check if it has a focus limit switch. You will recognize it because it will have a range associated with it. If your lens does not have this switch, please ignore this section.

The focus limit switch tells the camera where to focus within a certain distance. For example, if you set the switch to 6.5m-∞, the camera knows not to worry about focusing on anything beyond 6.5m. Knowing this information, your camera will shoot faster.

Why is this important to know? In many cases, I would try to shoot subjects that were only a few meters away from me, and the camera kept moving in and out of focus. I solve this problem every time by setting the right metering.

(6) Shooting macro

Telephoto zoom lenses are great for macro subjects. They allow you to stand further away from your subject so as not to scare it away. This has obvious advantages when photographing timid subjects such as dragonflies and insects.



How do I get my telephoto lens to focus?

Set your camera aperture on f/8 or lower, zoom the lens out to its longest focal length, and get as close to the subject as possible while still being able to focus. You also need to ensure as much distance as possible between the subject and any background elements.

What is the iPhone 12 telephoto?

If you look at the specs, you’ll see that the iPhone 12 Pro has a telephoto that will get you 2x closer than a standard wide lens. And iPhone 12 Pro Max’s telephoto lens will get you 2.5x closer, although that comes at the cost of low-light pictures.

What can you shoot with a telephoto lens?

As a telephoto lens closes the distance between you and whatever you’re photographing, it’s an ideal lens for photographing wildlife. With a telephoto lens, you’ll be able to take shots that look like you were just a few steps away from your subject when really you were some distance away.

When should I use a telephoto lens?

A telephoto lens allows you to shoot distant scenes. This comes in handy when you’re shooting something you can’t or don’t want to get close to. Narrowing the distance between you and the subject can make some people feel more comfortable in front of the camera.

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