Short telephotos

The first telephotos lenses we will examine have proved to be the most useful and the most popular. They are the ones that are no longer than roughly three times the focal length of a normal lens. In 35mm camera format such lenses range from about 80mm to 150mm, with 135mm being the clear favorite.

These lens offer only moderate amount of magnification, but that is ideal for most subjects with which a telephoto is needed at all. They are smaller, lighter, faster and more portable than the longer lenses. Because their relatively large apertures allow fast shutter speeds under reasonable lighting conditions, they can usually be hand held without the magnification of camera movement being obvious.

Since short telephoto lenses are only mildly specialized, they can be used on many of the subjects that ordinarily call for a normal lens. The difference is that image size will be a little larger from the same camera distance, or if you move back, image size can stay the same while allowing you a bit more room to work in.

These lenses are able to focus reasonably close, so frame filling images of small pets are easy to make. With larger pets you can stay far enough away to prevent a friendly tongue from licking the front element. Children or pets at play can be photographed from a distance that will give them plenty of room in which to romp. If your favorite animal subjects are at the local zoo, a short telephoto lens will let you spend a profitable day there without being encumbered by more than one lens. It will make shy and distant subject appear to be closer and it will allow you to take detailed portraits of closer, more sociable ones.

Telephoto lenses of this length are ideal for head and shoulder people portraits too. You can stay farther away than with a normal lens, reducing any self consciousness in your subject and giving the picture a more natural perspective. Also at any given f-stop backgrounds are fuzzier than a normal optic. This, too, is an advantage, for your subject will stand out more clearly. Careful, traditional portraits should be made with your camera mounted on a tripod so that framing, composition and focusing can be precisely controlled. However, informal pictures can easily be taken with the camera hand held in order to allow your subject more mobility and to better capture fleeting poses and expressions from a variety of angles.

Amusement parks are another fertile area for the short telephoto lens. A normal lens will often take in too much territory from the usual working distance, but a short telephoto will let you concentrate on frame filling details and pick individual bits of action out of the crowd.

If photographing live theater and other stage performances appeals to you, a relatively fast lens that also beings the performers closer is just what you need. A short telephoto lens with as large an aperture as you can find is the best combination for this type of subject.

There are many more situations in which a short telephoto can be used to enlarge a distant object, isolate an action, or bring out a detail. Increase your fun and your knowledge by discovering some of them for yourself.


More about telephotos lenses

- Medium Telephotos Lens
- Long Telephotos Lens
- Mirror Lenses and Telescopes
- Tele Extender
- Characteristics of Tele Lenses

- Tips on how to handle long lenses