What Is a Telephoto Lens and Why Is It Important?

Telephoto lenses are very popular among photographers. They’re very useful and can take your photography experience to a whole new professional level.
A telephoto lens has a focal length that is longer than the image's diagonal size. In easier language, a telephoto lens allows you to take pictures of distant subjects. A telephoto lens also allows you to magnify the subject you want to capture.
Further on, this article will contain more information that answers what is a telephoto lens, as well as, why it’s significant.

What Is a Telephoto Lens?

Telephoto lenses are available in a range of focal lengths. It can be a medium telephoto that usually ranges between 135 to 300mm. On the other side of the coin, it can reach up to super-telephoto which is typically ranging from 300mm and longer.
There’s also a short telephoto lens that has focal lengths ranging from 85mm to 135mm, these lenses are ideal for everyday usage because they’re small and light.
Unfortunately, the longer the focal length, the darker the image becomes. Some higher-end telephoto lenses have a bigger maximum aperture. This aperture allows more light into the lens to overcome this problem of dark images.
A zoom lens is one that has a focal length that can be adjusted. The term "prime" refers to a lens with a fixed focal length. Telephoto lenses, such as the 70 to 300mm, can be used as zoom lenses. A telephoto lens, such as a 200mm lens, can also be used as a prime lens.
Telephoto lenses require a lot of glass to bring subjects up close to the camera. As a result, they’re frequently huge and heavy. It also raises their price.
A narrow field of view is caused by the long focal length. These lenses have a range of 30° to 1° of the field of vision. When you can't get close enough to your subject, this technique comes in handy.
Telephoto lenses change the scale of your subject in relation to the background, compressing them together. Your background will appear larger and closer to your topic as a result of this.

Why Is a Telephoto Lens Important?

Knowing what a telephoto lens is, provides more room to discuss why it’s important for photographers. Thus, the following points are the main reasons why photographers use a telephoto lens.
  • Bringing Far Subjects Closer to the Camera
A telephoto lens' principal advantage is that it extends your focal length. It extends your reach. Thus, a telephoto lens is employed to photograph distant scenes.
Photographers of wildlife and sports, for example, must maintain a set distance from their subjects. That’s why they rely on telephoto lenses to capture their subjects from a greater distance.
For sports and wildlife photography, the best choice would be to capture pictures using 70 to 200mm, 100 to 400mm, 135mm, or 600+mm.
When venomous species are being pursued, a telescopic lens comes in handy. For instance, all intriguing species should be photographed from a safe distance.
Working from a larger distance is beneficial for delicate objects like ice formations and dew-encrusted spider's webs, as the warm breath can damage the scene.
  • Emphasizes Blurred Backgrounds for Portraits Photography
The blurred background effect is usually enhanced by using a longer lens with a larger aperture. However, it's not so much about the lens as it is about the distance you can shoot from with a telephoto lens.
When you shoot from a long distance, the final image compresses the subject by bringing the background closer to it. As a result, when the background is blurred, the subject is isolated, which is ideal for portraits.
In the photograph, the topic will appear smaller in comparison to the background. This compression has the effect of making face features more proportionate and consistent.
To get the best result, use 70 to 200mm, 85mm, or 135mm for portraiture.
  • Shooting Moving Subjects
When photographing wildlife, one of the difficulties you'll confront is subjects who refuse to stay still for long periods of time. Rather than taking the chance of missing a shot, try using a wide aperture.
This will ensure that your shutter speed is fast enough to freeze the species you're photographing.
For photographing weddings and moving targets, use 70 to 200mm, 85mm, or 135mm for the best results possible.

Telephoto Lens Usage Tips

Telephoto lenses have a wide range of applications and can be a valuable addition to a photographer's toolkit. However, there are three tips to make sure a photographer is having the best experience with the telephoto lens.
These three tips help in explaining the telephoto lens better. This corresponds to helping the photographer reach their best potential with the telephoto lens’ help.
  • Stabilization
Camera shake is always a worry, but it's even more so when using telephoto lenses. Reducing camera shake will aid in the sharpness and focus of your photographs.
Many telephoto lenses include image stabilization built-in, which can be extremely useful when shooting with a long lens. When shooting at greater focal lengths, if your lens doesn't have built-in stabilization, consider using a tripod.
  • Aperture
Aperture refers to how wide a lens' inner ring may open to let light in. A wide aperture is advantageous for a number of reasons.
Shooting with a larger aperture will allow you to have a faster shutter. Additionally, it’ll help you nail the shot when the light is low. A larger aperture is extra helpful if the shooting is for a moving subject or if there isn’t any form of stabilization.
  • Shallow Depth of Field
Another one of the best features of telephoto lenses is their ability to produce photographs with a shallow depth of field.
When you shoot a subject with a longer lens and a larger aperture, you can get images with a shallow depth of field.
As a result, you'll be able to completely obscure the background and isolate your subject. This also helps to keep the sharpness of the foreground and background in check.


Investing in a telephoto lens is a terrific way to improve the quality of the pictures taken and add a new dimension to any skill set. Telephoto lenses are extremely adaptable and effective in a wide range of scenarios.
A decent telephoto lens may help take the photography experience to the next level, from zooming in on distant subjects to taking attractive portraits.