Use of telephoto lens tips

How does a wildlife photographer photograph a giant lion on the prairie or a cheetah resting in a tree? Do they just walk up or just climb up and point the camera at the animal’s face? Of course, they don’t. They just used a technology called telephoto lenses.

A telephoto lens is a favorite shooting tool of many photographers, but how to make good use of the telephoto lens, take better photos. I’m going to share some tips to help you take better photos.

1. What is a telephoto lens?

A telephoto lens is a photographic lens with a longer focal length than a standard lens. Telephoto lenses are divided into ordinary telephoto lenses and ultra-telephoto lenses. The focal length of an ordinary telephoto lens is close to that of a standard lens, while that of the ultra-telephoto lens is much larger than that of the standard lens. Take 135 camera as an example, its lens focal length is from 85mm – 300mm photography lens for an ordinary telephoto lens, 300mm above for ultra-telephoto lens.

Flowers taken with a telephoto lens

2. What is the use of telephoto lenses?

Telephoto lenses make subjects look closer than they really are. This may be ideal for photographers who can’t get close to their subjects due to physical limitations or safety concerns. These lenses also serve an artistic purpose and are excellent at creating a focal point of contrast between foreground and background.

3. What are the different types of telephone lenses?

Most telephoto lenses range from “medium” (focal length between 70 and 200mm) all the way to “ultra-telephoto” (focal length greater than 300mm). Such lenses can subtly or significantly change your camera’s field of view, allowing full-frame photography at a variety of shutter speeds and aperture values — from quick action shots in full light to nighttime shots that are set to the lens’s maximum aperture. Here are some popular telephoto lenses in this range:

The 70-200mm lens can zoom to any focal length within the specified range. These are ideal for portrait photography, with sharp themes and pleasing background blurring. Meanwhile, at the outer edge of its range, these lenses are suitable for distant events, such as weddings or sporting events.

Seagulls photographed with a telephoto lens

100-400mm lenses are also zoomed lenses, and they go beyond what 70-200mm lenses can offer. Sports and wildlife photographers value the distance and convenient zoom ability of these lenses.

The 85mm prime lens has a shallow depth of field, making it ideal for portraits with clear foreground subjects and blurred backgrounds. Today’s digital cameras and mobile phones often offer “portrait mode” that mimics the effect of an 85mm prime lens.

A 135mm prime lens has the same shallow depth of field as an 85mm prime lens, but at a greater distance. They are used for portraits, weddings, events, and more artistic experimental photography.

Ultra-telephoto prime lenses, which typically start at around 600mm, are favored by wildlife photographers who capture many far-flung animal subjects. These long-lens photos usually have a very shallow depth of field.

4. Use skills of a telephoto lens

(1) Use a tripod

In general, most objects taken with telephoto and ultra-telephoto lenses need to remain clear. Because telephoto lenses have a narrow field of view and magnification, the slightest movement amplifies the effect, reducing image sharpness. The first thing you can do is use a tripod and tripod head that can support the weight of the lens and camera to ensure you can capture sharp images. While this isn’t the only step to ensure clarity, it’s an essential first step. Using a tripod or even a monopod can also save your back and arms from unnecessary pain and fatigue.

An airplane shot with a telephoto lens

(2) Use ultra-shallow depth of field

Telephoto and ultra-telephoto lenses share the same optical properties and can produce a very shallow focal plane. Thus, an oft-discussed secondary feature of long lenses is bokeh, which is an optical feature of out-of-focus portions of a photo. Using a shallow depth of field provides a non-distracting background for your subject, enhancing the perceived focus and its isolation from competing for background elements. Understanding the scatter effect from one shot to another will enhance your ability to produce the highest quality images.

(3) Use a shutter release

When viewed through the camera’s viewfinder with a telephoto lens, any movement is magnified. The simple act of pressing the camera’s shutter while photographing distant objects can even cause the camera and lens mounted on a tripod to shake. To minimize camera shake, use a shutter release. Minimizing the movement of the camera and lens mounted on a tripod can reduce accidental blurring of photos.

(4) Telephoto effect — combine near and far

Telephoto lenses have unique optical effects because they allow a scene to have great depth. Aptly called the telephoto effect. Using this effect is very useful when composing eye-catching subjects and scenes. Unlike short-focal lenses, which can provide a lot of depth of field for a scene, flattening the scene with a telephoto lens can give the illusion that multiple objects far apart are actually very close together. The effect can have a big impact on the audience.

(5) Outline your subject tightly

The most obvious use for telephoto lenses is to zoom in on the subject, bringing you closer to your subject. This can be very valuable if you are photographing wildlife and want to get up close without endangering your life. In addition to wildlife with telephoto lenses, in some cases, you can use creative licenses to get very close to your subjects. This is especially useful for highlighting details that would be lost with shorter focal lengths.

Flowers taken with a telephoto lens

(6) Isolate your principals

Telephoto lenses are great for isolating your subject more clearly. While this can be done with a shorter focal length lens, telephoto lenses give you a greater understanding of subjects that may be too far away. This is an intermediate use for telephoto lenses, where you don’t want to crop too tightly or narrow the gap between objects that are far apart.

5. Conclusion

Whether you’re just starting out or dreaming of becoming a professional photographer, photography takes a lot of practice and patience.

People always seem surprised when I describe my 70-200mm as my favorite landscape shot. Some photographers don’t think of telephoto lenses as nature photography tools at all. If that’s how you see things, then you might be missing some beautiful underlying images.

Of course, you don’t have to be a landscape photographer to enjoy using a telephoto lens. Portrait photographers often employ the “zoom in, step back” rule in order to capture their subject’s face in a more flattering way. Or, if you’re a sports photographer, telephoto lenses can help you focus on the smallest details of a scene, bringing your audience face to face with the subject in the distance.

However, telephoto lenses are not suitable for all images. If you want to show a broad view, they certainly don’t work. Or, if you’re trying to exaggerate the size of nearby objects, there are usually better tools to do the job.

However, if you want to show people the detail and scale of distant scenes, or isolate your subject with a shallow depth of field, telephoto should be your first choice. For many, it will be the most commonly used lens in your kit.

Flowers taken with a telephoto lens

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