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What is a Telephoto lens and why you should buy one?

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  • 3 min read

Sooner or later, every photographer has to make the decision of which lens to buy. There are more than a few options available and often a beginner gets caught up in the numbers and ends up being confused.

In this article, we’re going to talk about telephoto lenses. Why they’re great and why you as a photographer should always have a telephoto lens in your camera bag.

What is a TelePhoto lens?

Well, simply photo, a TelePhoto lens is more like a telescope for your camera. They usually cover a large focal range and offer some pretty good zooming capabilities.

These lenses generally top out at a really long focal range, say 200mm with some going as high as 600 or even 1200mm. They also cover a much longer range as compared to wide-angle or prime lenses.

So in extreme cases, you might just be able to get away with a telephoto lens at a shoot.

Also read: Photography 101: 10 must carry items for every photographer

Why should you buy one?

Well, to begin with, you get a lot of range with a telephoto lens.

That means a lot of versatility and a lot of use cases. You can cover events, landscapes, astronomy and even portraits with these things.

Not only that, the compression you get when you’re at that high focal range gives you that nice and smooth bokeh as well.

Notice this in the image below. This image is not even taken on a telephoto lens, but you can still see the difference in compression when the lens is at 18mm versus when the lens is at a longer focal length, that is, 55mm.

What is a Telephoto lens and why you should buy one?

Next comes in clarity. Telephoto lenses often offer better clarity than their zoom or wide angle counterparts. Consider it to be somewhere in between the clarity of an 18-55 kit lens and a 50mm prime.

If you’re going for a high-end zoom lens though, the clarity might be just as good as a prime.

Speaking of primes, Telephoto lenses are often used as alternatives to prime lenses when it comes to portraits. The telephoto lens produces very flat images along with amazing background bokeh, both of which are essential to capturing portraits.

Also, lenses like the 135mm Prime and above really give you the best of both telephoto and prime. However, as you can guess, the price for these is higher than most high-end cameras.

Overall, telephoto lenses make for a very versatile piece of glass. One that’ll help you cover a large range of subjects and events.

Also read: Cinematography 101: Introduction to Lav Mics (Lavalier Microphones)

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: