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Buying a telephoto lens: what to look out for

You have bought yourself an excellent camera. Now all you need is an amazing lens to go with it! But there are so many different lenses to choose from, which one suits you best? Perhaps a telephoto lens is the right choice for you. In this article, we will tell you all you need to know about telephoto lenses.

What is a telephoto lens?What is a telephoto lens?Pros & ConsWhat to photograph with a telephoto lens?

Nikon telelens 200-500mm

What is a telephoto lens?

A telephoto lens has a long focal length and a small angle of view. This means you can easily photograph subjects that are far away, you are able to bring your subject closer.

Prime lenses and zoom lenses

Telephoto lenses are available in a variety of focal lengths: from 70 mm up to 600 mm. You have the choice of a fixed focal length (prime lens) or a variable focal length (zoom lens). Depending on what you want to photograph you can choose the lens that fits the situation the best. Are you not able to move yourself closer to or further away from the subject? Then the zoom lens is the better option for you.

All telephoto lenses

Pros & Cons in a nutshell

Pros of a telephoto lens

 Focuses in on far-away subjects

 Shallower depth of field

 Minimal image distortion

 Available as a prime or zoom lens

Cons of a telephoto lens

 Big and heavy

 Motion blur (if no image stabilisation)



Need help buying a telephoto lens? Check out our Top 10 telephoto lenses.

When to buy a telephoto lens?

A telephoto lens fits the bill perfectly when you can't get close to a subject yet still want to take stunning images. With a telephoto lens, you get close to the action despite being on the sidelines. Plus, you don't run the risk of startling an animal before you can capture it. Do you often go bird or wildlife spotting? Perhaps you're a keen sports fan? If so, a telephoto lens is the ideal lens for you.

Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 L Macro IS USM
  • 100mm
  • f/2.8
  • 4 stop Hybrid Stabilisation
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Nikkor AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6 ED VR
  • 200-500mm
  • f/5.6
  • Vibration Reduction (VR)
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Canon EF 100-400mm F4.5-5.6L IS II USM
  • 100-400mm
  • f/4.5-5.6
  • 4-stop IS
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Sigma 105mm 2.8 EX DG Macro OS HSM
  • 105mm
  • f/2.8-22
  • Sigma’s Optical Stabiliser
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What to photograph with a telephoto lens?

With a telephoto lens' long focal length, you bring a far-away subject up close. Also, you are able to create unique perspectives. With the telephoto lens you can draw your subject out of the background by using minimal depth of field. This is particularly useful when you want to take a portrait photo or a close-up. You can also bring subjects seemingly closer to each other. For instance, it looks like a lion is closing in on a gazelle or like a top athlete's competitor is close at his heels. There's no doubt about it, a telephoto lens is a real must-have for wildlife and sports photography.

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