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4.4 Telephoto Lenses

One of the most incredible lenses you will ever use is a quality telephoto lens. These lenses are fantastic for providing more isolation of your subjects and getting a narrower field-of-view. In this lesson you will learn about telephoto lenses and see what they look like in action.

4.4 Telephoto Lenses

One of the most enjoyable lenses you'll ever use is a high quality telephoto lens. These lenses are fantastic for providing isolation of your subject and getting a more narrow field of view. In this lesson you'll learn about telephoto lenses and see what they look like in action. Telephoto zooms pick up where the median telephoto leaves off in terms of field of view. We're looking at lenses that will give us a field of view of around ten degrees and smaller. The reason that there's not a specific number on the low side is because a lot of these lenses pick up from the medium telephoto and go all the way into the super telephoto zoom range, which is close to four degrees in smaller field of view. In full frame and APS-C sized cameras you'll see focal lengths like 150 to 600 millimeter, 200 to 400 millimeter, 70 to 300 millimeter and Micro 4 third you'll see lenses like 70 to 200 millimeter and even 100 to 300 millimeter. Fixed or wide aperture lenses are very expensive. Most are well over $1,000 U.S., and some, like the 2 to 400 millimeter are way up there. The 2 to 400 millimeter from NIKKOR is $6,750, and the 2 to 400 millimeter from Canon is $11,800 U.S.. But at least that one comes with a 1.4x extender. The reason that there's such a range of lenses in terms of their focal length is because of the field-of-view multiplier. A 200mm lens on a full frame camera has a field-of-view of around 12 degrees, which is more in the medium telephoto zoom range. If you put that lens on an APS-C sensor. Now, 200 millimeters is about 8 degrees, which is on the longer tele range. 200 millimeters on a micro four-thirds camera is closer to six degrees field of view. The point is that we're looking for lenses that have higher focal lengths that give us that narrower field of view. Whatever lens you're gonna use in this range, you almost certainly want to have image stabilization. The higher the focal length is, the more important this becomes. Image stabilization will not help you stop action but it will help you to reduce camera shake. For shooting photos of still life or slower moving objects, image stabilization can be your very best friend. These lenses are most associated with sports and wildlife photography. As such, I don't own one of these longer lenses. If I need to shoot a little bit more tele, I would use the long end of this 70 to 200 millimeter on my APS-C camera body. Let's check out what a telephoto zoom lens looks like in action. So the next several images that we're gonna be looking at were all shot in the telephoto focal range. Now, they all weren't shot with a telephoto zoom lens because I don't have a specific telephoto zoom lens, but I do have several lenses that cover that area. So, all the shots that you're looking at were shot at around 150 mm and above. Not much above 300 mm. And you can see that I have some wildlife shots in here, and, you know, a telephoto zoom you most often associate with wildlife and sports photography. I'm not really a sports guy, but I do have a few nice wildlife shots in here, but it's a good lens for lots of different stuff. Here you can see some mountain shots. And a few other nice shots that I found from my trip to Kazakhstan several years ago. If you're shooting outside, and you have a lot of light, you can get away with a variable aperture or telephoto zoom lens, you know? You're shooting at f6.3, f8, f11, that's all fine. Most of these shots, you can see, they're still a reasonable amount of depth of field where we're getting some isolation of the subjects. And because all of these are telephoto zooms you're gonna see that in almost every single photo. You know, a super fast lens would obviously be better but at focal lengths of 300 millimeters unless you're using a Prime lens, you're not gonna find a whole lot faster than F4 or F5, F5.6. If you use a Prime lens then you can get down the F2.8 and you're gonna have a good bit more auto-focus area was in front of and behind your subject which will help to provide more isolation. But a 300 millimeter Prime Zoom lens is a huge chunk of change and it's a massive lens. This is a really fantastic focal range because it provides such a narrow field of view and it provides really great isolation. Not only from your subject to the background, but also the general environment. None of these shots would have been possible with a wider focal length lens because the field of view was just too wide. We'd get more background stuff, we'd get more foreground stuff. We'd just get more stuff. And, the fact is that these type of photos with a telephoto zoom lens give you a tremendous amount of isolation. And they just can't be done with a wider focal length lens. Now, here we are looking at several shots that I did of a stage show. My two nieces, my brothers, two daughters were in this show. And I was probably sitting maybe 50 rows back so maybe 100 or 150 feet back. I was using the Canon 70-200 F2.8 IS lens. Most of these shots were at 200 millimeters, so that is definitely in the telephoto zoom range. And that worked out really well. Now, could I have used a little bit more on the telephoto end of that lens? Sure. I definitely could have. Because I was trying to get, you know, expressions, but also capture a little bit of the surroundings and some other people. But, the fact is unless I was using a prime, that would be very difficult because I was already shooting every single one of these shots at F 2.8, isos between 800 and 6400. And if I was using a variable aperture telephoto zoom lens, we'd be looking at f 5, f 5.6 on the longer end. And that would not have worked very well, especially with my camera, the Canon 7D because that camera will go up to ISO 12,800. Some of these shots were wide open at ISO 6,400. So, if I was using f 5.6 with a variable aperture lens, we'd be talking about ISOs of 25,600. My camera doesn't even go up that high, but even newer cameras that do have that, that's going to be pretty noisy. Already, 6,400 is gonna be fairly noisy but 25,000 is gonna be crazy noisy. Now, we're checking out a few portraits that I shot of my oldest two Ella and Lincoln, you've seen them before in the course, we're gonna be looking at what focal lengths are best for making people's faces look fantastic later in this course. And the more telephoto range does not make people's faces look the best but depending on how far you are away from them it can work really well to give some really fantastic isolation against the background. And also shots like this, you know, there's a really cool moon shot and it is cropped in a fair amount but that shot would be impossible with anything else but a telephoto zoom or something in the telephoto range. Now, there is something very important to note with a telephoto zoom lens or any really long lens. You know, a lot of folks will think that a telephoto zoom lens is really great for being able to capture things that are far off in the distance and in some respects they are. Because this shot that we're looking at here was captured at about a quarter mile away. The problem is, when you're shooting objects that are that far away, which you definitely can, you're going to have other issues that are going to affect the image quality. And those are atmospheric effects, okay. Moisture in the air, the air temperature, the air distortion from heat currents. We're gonna check out a 100% crop of this image, and what you're gonna see is that it looks okay small, but when you're looking at it close up, it's actually pretty distorted. Now, I was shooting on a day that was probably in the 80s Fahrenheit and so it wasn't crazy hot, but even on a relatively warm day we were getting a lot of heat distortion. Now, some of this distortion was coming from the air currents moving up from the roof itself because they're sitting there baking in the sun all day. But if you look at the roof it's all kinds of ripley and I promise you that's not the lens that we're looking at. That is the air distortion that we're getting from this field that was in front and the air currents in the distortion that's happening, from the sun beating down and things of that nature. So, it is something that you want to take notice of and keep in mind because at some point, at some distance, the atmospheric conditions will affect your image much more than any kind of deficiencies in the lens itself. At a certain distance, and this will depend on the temperature and the moisture in the air, you are going to have issues shooting through more atmosphere to get to your subject. But that aside, a telephoto zoom lens is a fantastic lens for capturing all kinds of really great shots with that really super narrow field of view. Now that you have an understanding of telephoto zooms, you're ready to move on to the next lesson. Where you're going to learn about super zooms.

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