Photography Explained

Telephoto Lenses Explained In Plain English In Less Than 10 Minutes

May 18, 2021 Rick McEvoy Episode 64
Photography Explained
Telephoto Lenses Explained In Plain English In Less Than 10 Minutes
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Photography Explained
Telephoto Lenses Explained In Plain English In Less Than 10 Minutes
May 18, 2021 Episode 64
Rick McEvoy

Wide Angle Lens Explained In Plain English In Less Than 10 Minutes. Hi and welcome to Episode 64 of the Photography Explained podcast.

I’m your host Rick, and in each episode I will explain one photographic thing to you in plain English in less than 10 minutes (ish) without the irrelevant details. What I tell you is based on my lifetime of photographic experience. And not Google.

Here is my answer
A telephoto lens offers a narrower field of view than a standard lens. The focal length of a telephoto lens is greater than a standard lens, and more than 50mm on a full frame camera. Telephoto lenses are used to distant objects, and to isolate features in a scene. Telephoto lenses are used for wildlife, sports, landscape photography - anything where you want to zoom in!

Listen for more, or check out the transcript and even the blog post - so many ways to find out more!

What’s next?
Glad you asked! In Photography Explained Podcast 65, Fisheye Lenes Explained In Plain English In Less Than 10 Minutes.

What to ask a question?
Head over to the Want Me To Explain Something? page on the Photography Explained website and fill the form in and you are done!

Check out my my blog
Check out my photography blog where you will find lots more photography stuff all written by me.

Did you enjoy this episode?
If you did please do the following, which will help me and not take too much time.
·         Rate and review my podcast
·         Subscribe
·         Tell anyone you think might like my podcast

Thank you very much for listening and see you on the next episode.

Rick McEvoy – Photography Explained Podcast

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Rickmcevoy)

Show Notes Transcript

Wide Angle Lens Explained In Plain English In Less Than 10 Minutes. Hi and welcome to Episode 64 of the Photography Explained podcast.

I’m your host Rick, and in each episode I will explain one photographic thing to you in plain English in less than 10 minutes (ish) without the irrelevant details. What I tell you is based on my lifetime of photographic experience. And not Google.

Here is my answer
A telephoto lens offers a narrower field of view than a standard lens. The focal length of a telephoto lens is greater than a standard lens, and more than 50mm on a full frame camera. Telephoto lenses are used to distant objects, and to isolate features in a scene. Telephoto lenses are used for wildlife, sports, landscape photography - anything where you want to zoom in!

Listen for more, or check out the transcript and even the blog post - so many ways to find out more!

What’s next?
Glad you asked! In Photography Explained Podcast 65, Fisheye Lenes Explained In Plain English In Less Than 10 Minutes.

What to ask a question?
Head over to the Want Me To Explain Something? page on the Photography Explained website and fill the form in and you are done!

Check out my my blog
Check out my photography blog where you will find lots more photography stuff all written by me.

Did you enjoy this episode?
If you did please do the following, which will help me and not take too much time.
·         Rate and review my podcast
·         Subscribe
·         Tell anyone you think might like my podcast

Thank you very much for listening and see you on the next episode.

Rick McEvoy – Photography Explained Podcast

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Rickmcevoy)

Telephoto lenses explained in plain English in less than 10 minutes. Hi, and welcome to Episode 64 of the Photography Explained Podcast. I'm your host Rick (not Greg as the transcript thought) and in each episode I will explain one photographic thing to you in plain English in less than 10 minutes (ish) without the irrelevant details. What I tell you is based on my lifetime of photographic experience, and not Google.

Here is the answery bit (this is take two by the way because copy and paste errors bit me on take one - right then let's try again).

A telephoto lens offers a narrower field of view than a standard lens. The focal length of a telephoto lens is greater than a standard lens, and more than 50mm on a full frame camera. Telephoto lenses are used to photograph distant objects and to isolate features in the scene. Telephoto lenses are used for wildlife sports, landscape photography, anything where you want to zoom in. I'll come on to pigeon-holing in a bit.

What is the focal length of a telephoto lens?
I've got too many angles from a wide angle post. I've just tried to adapt to this, so hopefully I won't make any more mistakes.

Well, anything more than 50mm on a full frame camera could theoretically be considered telephoto. But the general rule of thumb is anything longer than 60 to 70mm is telephoto.

That's on a full frame camera. So what is that on a cropped sensor camera?
Well, let's remind ourselves (easy for me to say). Cropped sensor cameras have a crop factor of 1.5 to 1.6 depending on the lens manufacturer.

So 60-70mm on a full frame camera equates to 60 x 1.5 or 1.6, which is 90 or 96mm.

Telephoto lenses on crop sensor cameras have a focal length of more than 90 millimetres using the 1.5 crop factor.

What does that mean on a Micro Four Thirds camera?
Well, as I said in previous episodes, Micro Four Thirds cameras have a crop factor of 2. Maths so easy even I can do it – 50mm on a full frame camera equates to 50 x two, which is 100mm. 

Telephoto lenses on Micro Four Thirds cameras have a focal length of more than 120 millimetres.

Right, that's the difficult bit out of the way.

I noticed that I actually write the word “So” at the beginning of many sentences, and then I chastise myself for saying “so” at the beginning of many sentences, and maybe if I didn't write it in there in the first place, I wouldn't have this problem.

What different telephoto lenses are there?
Well, there are lots. If we stick with full frame cameras and Canon lenses, there are many focal lengths. 

But what does focal length actually mean?
Well, I'll tell you what the popular focal lengths are, and what their horizontal field of view is.

Now I did this for the wide angle lenses, which gives you a good idea of the difference. So here's the horizontal view, that's the wide bit in landscape mode, not the diagonal.

Starting with a 50 millimetre lens, that gives you a 40 degree field of view.

  • 70mm - 29 degrees
  • 100mm - 20 degrees
  • 200mm - 7.3 degrees
  • 300mm - 6.5 degrees
  • 400mm - 5 degrees
  • 600mm – 3 degrees
  • 800mm - 2.35 degrees

Yeah 800mm.

In very crude terms, the bigger the number, the longer focal length, the bigger the lens, the more expensive it is, but the closer you get to things.

So what does telephoto actually mean?
It's not necessarily to do with a long focal length lens because that's what all these things are. These lenses (100-800mm) are long focal length lenses, but strictly speaking, telephoto is to do with some specialist stuff within the lens that does something telephoto ish.

Now, I did look into this, and I didn't understand it. It got too complicated. So I've done the decent thing and decided not to worry about it. What is not going to help us is understanding the exact word telephoto.

What is going to help us is understanding what telephoto lenses (in the broadest sense) are, and what the differences are from other lenses, and why you might want one.

That's the point of the podcast, I tell you things you need to know, and I tell you when you don't need to worry about something.

Are telephoto lenses fixed or prime?
It's the same as with wide angle lenses. You can get both.

What are telephoto lenses used for?
Main uses are

Sports, obviously getting in close to the action.

Wildlife - you're not going to walk up to a lion with a standard lens and say, say cheese. I'm not sure what you say to a lion. Would you say raw meat - please don't kill me?

Sport, wildlife, aviation. That's unless you can fly.

Oh, yeah that's planes not birds. I was confused myself.

So yeah, aviation planes in the sky, you're not going to get close to them unless you're in the plane.

But you can also use them for landscapes. No, we don't just use wide angle lenses for landscapes. Same for architecture - you can use, and I do use, telephoto lenses in architectural photography.

Same as cityscapes.

Just like with wide angle lenses, you can use these things for a variety, well for virtually anything.

What do telephoto lenses actually do?
They get you in closer, they bring things to you. And they compress the perspective. You know those photos where it looks like everything is close together?

On a wide angle lens everything's wide open. On a telephoto lens, with a long focal length, it compresses things and brings them closer together and you get a different feel to an image. It's brilliant.

In fact, I love using mine.

A word on depth of field.
Now mistakenly, I thought the depth of field changed with the focal length, it doesn't. The depth field is no different on a telephoto lens as it is on a standard lens. It just looks like it because the lens has magnified what you're looking at.

Now you can use that to get amazing photos with fantastic blurred out backgrounds, which makes the subject matter really pop - a great use of telephoto lenses. Very, very powerful.

What do I use?
Well, I use a Canon 70-200mm lens. It's the F4 L IS alphabet soup lens (as somebody once said).

I'm a bit of a wide angle junkie. So it is in there (my bag) but I don't use it often. But I use it for reasons which I will get onto.

Back in the day, I had a 100-400mm monster Canon zoom lens. That was a long time ago, but I did have a fantastic time photographing cricket with it.

Now I mentioned this before, I was at a cricket match with my Dad and, well I'd had a few drinks and I had my Canon 100-400mm lens with a massive lens hood. I kept on knocking this lady in front in the face, not one of my finest days.

Nowadays, I use telephoto lenses in my work (when I'm sober, which is all the time) when I want to capture a detail or get close into something.

I also use them to get different effects on interiors so you can use them in all sorts of areas. And that leads me seamlessly onto the point I wanted to make about pigeonholing.

Pigeonholing

  • Wide angle lenses are not just for landscapes.
  • Telephoto lenses are not just for sports.

Each has its own uses in any field, you can use a wide angle lens to photograph pretty much anything. You can use a telephoto lens in any genre of photography.

So they're not pigeonholed like that. You need to think about them and use them creatively.

I will say if you use a wide angle lens to photograph somebody, it won't be great. So that's the one notable exception.

Other than that it's just about being creative and thinking about what you're photographing.

How much do telephoto lenses cost?
Well I've aimed high on this one, the Canon RF 600mm – F4 L IS USM lens is listed on the Canon website at, wait for it, £13,719.99.

13,000 pounds for a zoom lens!

That's, that's remarkable, isn't it?

I’ve always wondered, well, I used to wonder back in the day, how can somebody possibly afford a lens costing £13,000?

But the truth is, if you need one, you will make money from it. And the other wonderful thing about lenses is that they hold their value so well - if you bought one of those lenses today for £13,719.99, I reckon in five years’ time, you'd get your money back, if not more.

(But other lenses are available of course - that was just the extreme example!)

I've very rarely lost any significant money on a lens, I've normally got back at least what I paid for it some years later on.

And as I've explained before, I have bought quite a lot of lenses that I didn't need

Right, my one line summary
Telephoto lenses get you in close and compress the scene. This allows us to get a different perspective and get less in our photos (than with wide angle lenses). We're reducing the field of view and we're changing the perspective of the bits in the frame compressing the scene. All wonderful things.

Next episode
So next episode well, my notes helpfully say Episode 64 (just change that to 65 bear with). After telephoto lenses I am going wide again. I'm gonna go really wide. I touched on these in the wide angle lens Episode.

What are fisheye lenses? And that's fisheye as in one word which was my first bit of learning – it’s not two words. Fisheye is one word.

I'm working on the title for that one.

Right, I'm done.

Please give me a nice review and rating
Please leave a nice review and rating if you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe so you don't miss an episode. And if you could tell one person about my podcast, I would be most grateful.

Find out more
To find out more about my podcast and to ask a question of your own check out the Photography Explained Podcast website. And to find out more about me. Please go to Rick McEvoy Photography.

Thanks
Thank you very much for listening to my small perfectly formed podcast (it says here).

Brought to you by
This episode was brought to you by Walker's salt and vinegar crisps and an anticipated toasted bagel with bacon on it and brown sauce.

Right that's taken me over 12 ¾ minutes. Thank you again for listening. I've been Rick McEvoy.

Thank you again for giving me 13 minutes and 30 seconds of your valuable time, and I will see you on the next episode - fisheye lenses. Cheers from me Rick. Bye.

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

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