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
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
More about telephotos lenses
Medium Telephotos Lens
Long Telephotos Lens
Mirror Lenses and Telescopes
Characteristics of Tele Lenses
Tips on how to handle long lenses