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What is a Telephoto Lens and How do they use in Cameras and Smartphones? - What To Know:

Updated: Aug 9, 2019

Telephoto Lens:

We've all been in this situation when a person hangs a camera around his neck with telephoto lens, we stare at the camera trying to figure out why the lens are so long? and assume our self as if it is used for zooming purpose. But it isn't! There are lot of things we can do with telephoto lens. If you don't know what they are, don't worry your brother is here to simplify and let you understand telephoto lens as easily as possible.


Telephoto Lens: A telephoto lens specifically incorporates the telephoto group. A telephoto group is a special lens that are incorporated together where the physical length of the lens that are shorter than the focal length, which is a single lens to focal plane of the camera (where the sensor or film

is respectively) has to be adjusted to this focal length. For example, given a focal length of 500 mm,the distance between lens and focal plane is 500 mm. The farther the focal length is increased, the more the physical length of such a simple lens makes it unwieldy. But such simple lenses are not telephoto lenses, no matter how extreme the focal length – they are known as long-focus lenses. A telephoto lens moves the optical center in front of the construction but in long-focus lenses the optical center is within the construction.


Different Types of Telephoto Lens:

There are three different telephoto lens which are used differently by different photographers based on their style.

  1. Short Telephoto Lens: Their range (85mm to 135mm in 35mm film format) is suitable for variety of situations and relatively light weight compared to others. Auto focus is pretty good because of their wide angle open lens which allows more light to follow. These lenses are recommended for wildlife photography but the drawback is that, they work good if you are taking pictures near to the objects.

  2. Medium Telephoto Lens: Their range (135mm to 300mm in 35mm film format) is in-between short telephoto lens and super telephoto lens making it as a people choice who are not professionals in photography. These lenses can be used for day to day capturing and can provide decent amount of zooming compared to short telephoto lens but these lenses are not recommended for wildlife photography.

  3. Super Telephoto Lens: Their range (over 300mm in 35mm film format) is suitable for covering large area and can zoom into far away object to near. These lenses are recommended for sports photography by covering large portion of area. Being long in length the amount of light entered into the sensor is less compared to short telephoto lens and super telephoto lens.


Features of Telephoto lens:

If you see the picture on the bottom right is the shot taken by telephoto lens, which makes a clear differentiation from others. Following are the features of telephoto lens.

  1. Compression: This is the feature photographers like more in telephoto lens, which makes the background bigger than normal and can produce the feel and depth of the image more sharper.

  2. Forced Composition: When you try to shoot an image which covers large area, where you want to focus on one particular object from the entire area you can do it with the help of telephoto lens.

  3. Long Zoom: This feature might be known to lot of people. Telephoto lens provides great zooming capacity to take the long shots with minimal noise as possible.


How Does Telephoto Lens used in Smartphones:

These day dual cameras became needed feature even in mid-tier smartphones enabling to capture better shots with your device. In the multiple camera setup, the primary camera takes care of majority of things but the secondary camera might be telephoto lens or wide angle or ultra wide angle lens. If you see in the flagship smartphones all of these lenses are included with Triple and Quad camera setup. So coming to the point telephoto lens in smart phones are majorly used for better zooming and it also helps in depth sensing, which we know it as portrait mode or bokeh mode.


Hope you got what are telephoto lens, how do they use in cameras and smartphones. With this in mind, see you around. Peace!