LONG LENSES ARE EXCITING TO USE because they enable us to view and capture images with far greater magnification than what we can see with our eyes. They also deliver dramatic, compressed perspectives and enable photographers to isolate subjects from busy backgrounds.
Telephoto lenses are available in both fixed focal length and versatile zoom configurations, and the longer the lens, the less inherent depth of field it provides at any given f-stop. Short telephotos, in the 85-135mm category, tend to be the least expensive, are easy to use hand-held, and are ideal for portraiture because they enable you to fill the frame with a subject from a comfortable working distance.
True “telephoto effects” begin to appear with lenses longer than 135mm, and by selecting wider aperture settings you can exaggerate compressed perspectives and use shallow depth of field to eliminate distracting background elements. These moderate telephotos, with focal lengths up to 300mm, are a great choice for travel photography, shooting sports/action photos, outdoor concerts, and other types of scenes in which you can’t readily approach a subject.
Extreme telephoto lenses, in focal lengths of 400mm or longer, tend to be heavy, unwieldy, and expensive, with far more limited applications. But if you’re on a whale-watching trip, or photographing wildlife from great distances, these lenses are usually the only way to get the