Skip to main content

Focal Length: Telephoto Lens

Lesson 6 from: Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

John Greengo

Focal Length: Telephoto Lens

Lesson 6 from: Canon Lenses: The Complete Guide

John Greengo

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

6. Focal Length: Telephoto Lens


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Canon Lens Basics


Focal Length: Angle of View


Focal Length: Normal Lenses


Focal Length: Wide Angle Lenses


Focal Length: Telephoto Lens


Focal Length Rule of Thumb


Field of View


Aperture Basics


Aperture: Maximum Aperture


Aperture: Equivalent Focal Length


Aperture: Depth of Field


Aperture: Maximum Sharpness


Aperture: Starburst Effect


Aperture: Flare


Aperture: Hyperfocal Distance


Camera Mount System


Canon Lens Compatibility


Canon Lens Design


Canon Lens Composition


Canon Lens Shape


Canon Lens Coating


Canon Lens Focusing


Lens Autofocus


Canon Lens Image Stabilization


Canon L Lenses


Image Quality


Canon Zoom Lenses: Standard


Canon Super Zooms


Canon Wide Zooms


Canon Telephoto Zooms


Prime Lens: Normal Lenses


Prime Lens: Moderate Wide


Prime Lens: Wide Angle


Prime Lens: Ultra-Wide


Prime Lens: Short Telephoto


Prime Lens: Medium Telephoto


Prime Lens: Super Telephoto


3rd Party Lenses Overview


3rd Party Prime Lenses


3rd Party Zoom Lenses


Lens Accessories: Filters


Lens Accessories: Lens Hoods


Lens Accessories: Tripod Mount


Lens Accessories: Extension Tubes


Lens Accessories: Extenders


Macro Lens: Reproduction Ratio


Macro Lens: Technique and Choices


Fisheye: Technique and Choices


Tilt Shift: Techniques and Choices


Make a Lens System Choice


Choosing A Portrait Lens


Choosing A Sports Lens


Choosing A Landscape Lens


Best Lenses for You


Lens Maintenance


Buying and Selling Lens


What is John Greengo's Favorite Lens?


Lesson Info

Focal Length: Telephoto Lens

Time for the telephoto lenses the big guns all right, so let's get out our telephoto lenses we're going to start off with one hundred millimeter lands nice short telephoto when when I say one hundred millimeter I'm kind of inherently grouping in eighty five one o five one thirty five everybody in the neighborhood can come to this party okay hundred millimeter lenses are short telephoto lenses and so these are going to be great subjects for great lenses for isolating our subjects and for suiting subjects that are a little bit further away that we can't just walk up to in this case, if we were to just walk up to the first pyramid, we're not gonna be able to see the pyramids behind it because they're going to be obscured behind it so we have to shoot it from here we need a telephoto lens were forced into using a telephoto lens in this case I know a lot of you are very creative types and you have an eye for details and so if you have an eye for details, you need a telephoto lens because yo...

u need to get rid of all the clutter and notice what those little areas are that are those little areas of beauty and we find this all over the place you know, traveling around I'll find just, you know, an entryway that just looks just really nice that you know, the garbage can and the other stuff over there that doesn't look so good. And so our telephoto lenses enable us to really isolate those beautiful subjects. This is a really fun place to go. Shoot. This is the very large array down in new mexico. You might see some more photos as we go throughout this class from down there. This is also going to be the place that you're going to find macro lenses. Now we're gonna have a whole section on macro lenses and they are going to be some of the sharpest. They're likely going to be the sharpest lens you own. I know that if I really want something sharp, if I can, I'll use a macro wins, even if it's not close up, even if it's further away, they're just 00:01:58.277 --> 00:02:00. really, really sharp lenses, but this is where it's 00:02:00.64 --> 00:02:03. very convenient to work with close close up materials 00:02:03.81 --> 00:02:06. is with that short telephoto. But what these air known 00:02:06.72 --> 00:02:09. more for that? Anything else is their notice portrait 00:02:09.27 --> 00:02:11. lenses and there's a number of reasons why they're 00:02:11.74 --> 00:02:13. notice portrait's and we're going to look at this 00:02:13.27 --> 00:02:16. in mohr close detail as we go through this class, 00:02:16.82 --> 00:02:20. but it renders natural perspective and proportions 00:02:20.58 --> 00:02:24. on the person. It also puts us at a comfortable working 00:02:24.17 --> 00:02:26. distance and allows us to throw the background out 00:02:26.84 --> 00:02:29. of focus just is a few quick things notice the background 00:02:29.47 --> 00:02:32. between behind both of these subjects is just a complete 00:02:32.47 --> 00:02:35. blur. Your eyes goto what is sharpest in the frame 00:02:35.57 --> 00:02:37. and that's exactly where I wanted to go in these 00:02:39.32 --> 00:02:42. isolating our details, the goat tree and morocco fun 00:02:42.55 --> 00:02:43. place to shoot. 00:02:46.42 --> 00:02:48. All right, let's, move on up to the telephoto lens, 00:02:48.94 --> 00:02:53. and I would hazard a guess that pretty much everyone 00:02:53.7 --> 00:02:56. who is a photographer is gonna want a lens that goes 00:02:56.81 --> 00:02:59. up to two hundred. There is a general range that I 00:02:59.71 --> 00:03:02. could just generally recommend for everything, and 00:03:02.74 --> 00:03:04. I think it's in the twenty four to two hundred millimeter 00:03:04.83 --> 00:03:08. range. If you want to have a reasonable collection 00:03:08.05 --> 00:03:10. of tools for different types of situations, twenty 00:03:10.98 --> 00:03:13. four to two hundred will get you covered in most situations. 00:03:13.78 --> 00:03:14. There's plenty of 00:03:16.28 --> 00:03:18. cases that you go beyond those but that's kind of 00:03:18.78 --> 00:03:20. the general range that you want twenty four to two 00:03:20.65 --> 00:03:22. hundred do you need more than two hundred? Well, it 00:03:22.86 --> 00:03:25. depends on exactly what you're doing two hundred is 00:03:25.31 --> 00:03:28. really great for going inm or to those details, especially 00:03:28.68 --> 00:03:31. when you need to be back a little bit further and 00:03:31.45 --> 00:03:33. so you can't get right up to your subject. You're 00:03:33.14 --> 00:03:34. shooting from maybe thirty feet away 00:03:36.02 --> 00:03:38. or you want to do a little bit more on the topic that 00:03:38.44 --> 00:03:40. we're going to be talking in here is compression, 00:03:40.54 --> 00:03:43. which is kind of the opposite of distortion a ce faras 00:03:43.95 --> 00:03:47. lenses go, and so we're able tto have all of these 00:03:47.13 --> 00:03:49. kind of stacked up on each other these scarves 00:03:52.77 --> 00:03:55. great for those of you with an eye for detail, small 00:03:55.53 --> 00:03:57. little details. Hey, look at that little thing, isn't 00:03:57.7 --> 00:03:58. that amazing. 00:04:00.12 --> 00:04:04. That narrow angle of you enables you to isolate exactly what you want to point your head at. Point your camera when we were touring morocco, our guide was so funny because we've come to a new city, and he would. He would always say the same thing he would look over. It could see all the satellite dishes he'd say. This city has lots of little white flowers. So these are the white flowers growing on the roofs. And this is where we start getting into our sports photography, and we will talk more about different lenses for different sports photography. But for most sports, you're probably going to need at least two two hundred millimeter lands in most situations. And it's also kind of where we start getting into the good stuff for most wildlife photography, depending on the type of wildlife, the size and how comfortable it is, you getting close two hundred is kind of short in the wildlife world. So if you have good access to rather large creatures than two hundred's gonna work out pretty well, but often times you're going to need a little bit more than that. I like shooting portrait's here because you can get that really shallow background, that shallow depth of field out of focus, background and a lot of people think, oh, I got to get it eighty five one point two two thousand dollars lens in order to shoot with shallow depth of field. No, this is an f both of these air shot with f four lenses and for those of you know about that, well, that's. Not that impressive. When it comes to a lens. A two hundred millimeter f four like everyone's got one of those, but you can get very nice portrait with that shallow depth of field. Look very natural. Look on the face of two hundred millimeters. Let's, go up to four hundred. This is likely for most serious photographers, the biggest lens that they will ever own during their careers. Most people just don't have a need for anything beyond this. But this does get us up to the super telephoto range, very narrow angle of view, useful for items and subjects that are much further away. So all you plain fans out there, aeronautical engineers, great for going to the plane shows wildlife very good lens for that, depending on the size and the proximity that you can get to us. Works really well for especially fairly large creatures. 00:06:25.91 --> 00:06:28. But it can also be very useful in landscape photography 00:06:28.43 --> 00:06:30. and a wide variety of other things where you want 00:06:30.45 --> 00:06:32. that narrow angle of you. And this is a topic that 00:06:32.95 --> 00:06:35. we're going to be covering in detail. Next is compression. 00:06:35.86 --> 00:06:39. Each of these hills is fifty hundred yards from the 00:06:39.04 --> 00:06:41. next one. But by shooting it with a long telephoto 00:06:41.36 --> 00:06:45. lens, I'm compressing all of these into one flat plain 00:06:45.32 --> 00:06:48. where it really changes the nature of the way it looks. Another good example of compression. These penguins are spread out there fairly dense. You could go walk in between them. But from this angle of you with the telephoto lens, compression effect is taking place. As it is here with the tulips. These telephoto lenses are also very good at isolating details, not only because they have a narrow angle of view, but also because they have a very shallow depth of field. You'll notice that I'm focused on pretty much one or two rows of these tulips, and everything else is out of focus. 00:07:24.24 --> 00:07:26. Canned, very evident here, 00:07:28.24 --> 00:07:31. focusing on one person. You want to isolate that one 00:07:31.76 --> 00:07:32. person, 00:07:33.54 --> 00:07:35. just a little side note. She's, one of most talented 00:07:35.97 --> 00:07:38. runners I've ever seen. And she gave up running. 00:07:39.74 --> 00:07:41. She became a pole vaulter and currently holds the 00:07:41.75 --> 00:07:44. state record in the pole vault. Right now. Incredibly 00:07:44.75 --> 00:07:45. talented, 00:07:46.9 --> 00:07:49. doing these really shallow depth of field things, 00:07:49.17 --> 00:07:52. very easy with these really long lenses, kind of fun. All right let's spring out the eight hundred millimeter 00:08:01.644 --> 00:08:06. lands so this is the biggest lens that cannon currently 00:08:06.75 --> 00:08:10. makes which means they made a bigger one at some point 00:08:10.64 --> 00:08:12. this is a really big ones let me actually go over 00:08:12.22 --> 00:08:15. here and grab it for you I wanted to bring this one 00:08:15.0 --> 00:08:17. in and I for a little thanks out to our buddies down 00:08:17.68 --> 00:08:20. at glaser's forgetting this over to us so this is 00:08:20.01 --> 00:08:23. an eight hundred millimeter lands and you don't have 00:08:23.38 --> 00:08:25. a camera on it yet and you could you could hand hold 00:08:25.75 --> 00:08:28. this but it's got a lot of movement in this and it 00:08:28.56 --> 00:08:30. does have a vibration a stabilization system we're 00:08:30.97 --> 00:08:33. going to talk more about this it's got a lot of extra 00:08:33.36 --> 00:08:36. controls on these big white lances and you know if 00:08:36.54 --> 00:08:40. I was a bird photographer if I was going to become 00:08:40.24 --> 00:08:43. a surfing photographer in hawaii go there's out the 00:08:43.52 --> 00:08:45. water stuff but if you're going to shoot on land you 00:08:45.82 --> 00:08:48. want the longest lens that they could make and so 00:08:48.19 --> 00:08:50. the eight hundred millimeter lands especially designed 00:08:50.88 --> 00:08:54. for really reaching out there very nangle narrow angle 00:08:54.84 --> 00:08:58. of you you're going to be shooting the center fielder 00:08:58.11 --> 00:09:01. in a baseball field from the sidelines and so this 00:09:01.56 --> 00:09:03. is the type of lens that I would want to have on a 00:09:03.34 --> 00:09:06. tripod or a mono pod. I'm not going to be shooting 00:09:06.89 --> 00:09:11. this handheld I know on safari rigs they have special 00:09:11.24 --> 00:09:14. devices that will clamp on to windows doors and rails 00:09:14.78 --> 00:09:17. on the vehicle so that you can quickly unq, lamp it 00:09:17.46 --> 00:09:19. over here. And then go clamp it on this side of the 00:09:19.28 --> 00:09:21. vehicle. Because this is not a lens that you want 00:09:21.51 --> 00:09:24. a handhold for any length of time. In fact, I'd like 00:09:24.03 --> 00:09:24. to put this down right now. 00:09:27.44 --> 00:09:29. So that's the eight hundred millimeter lens so let's, 00:09:29.55 --> 00:09:32. look at some photos within eight hundred millimeter 00:09:32.05 --> 00:09:34. lens, but there are multiple ways of getting to eight 00:09:34.66 --> 00:09:36. hundred, alright, and we're going to talk more about 00:09:36.86 --> 00:09:39. this in the accessory section we can use ah, four 00:09:39.82 --> 00:09:43. hundred millimeter lands and a doubler or an extender 00:09:43.29 --> 00:09:46. on this to get the equivalent angle of view of a hundred, 00:09:46.78 --> 00:09:48. we could take a five hundred millimeter lands and 00:09:48.55 --> 00:09:51. we could put a one point for which magnifies five 00:09:51.7 --> 00:09:54. hundred by one point four times, which gets a seven 00:09:54.82 --> 00:09:57. hundred and, you know, seven hundred's pretty close 00:09:57.32 --> 00:09:58. to eight hundred when you're in this neighborhood 00:09:59.34 --> 00:10:01. and you could take it with a cropped frame camera, 00:10:01.89 --> 00:10:04. use it on a three hundred, so we got a lot of math, 00:10:04.17 --> 00:10:07. your folks three hundred times one point for times one point six gives us six hundred and seventy two millimeters, which is generally speaking pretty close to that eight hundred millimeter range. Or we could use that three hundred and two x. And so these air all different ways that I have got examples of the following photos, and so obviously, wildlife subjects that are very skittish that are very far away are going to be subjects that you're going to be using within eight hundred millimeter lens. For you birders out there who are really into birding, they're going to have an eight hundred millimeter lance. Because these birds have a comfort zone of maybe thirty, forty, fifty feet and within eight hundred millimeter lands. That's. What you're going to need to get down and photographing a bird that's two three inches in size. At the zoo subjects that are a fairly far distance from you because there's just a lot of distance between where all the fences are but you can use this for a variety of reasons for isolating details and a very strong compression effect here this fairy I don't know what city this could be it this fairy is very far from those mountains I don't know how far twenty miles twenty five thirty miles I'm not sure exactly since but it's in that rain I wanted to photograph the supermoon with the space needle and I was looking for us far away as I could get so that I could make those look very compressed so if you have multiple subjects in the frame it's going to make them look closer together this bear and those people are probably more than one hundred yards apart very deceptive with these long telephoto lenses and so this next area we talked about distortion now we're going to talk about compression which is the effect that we get with telephoto lenses and so this is flattening or squeezing into a smaller space and typically we're 00:12:07.919 --> 00:12:10. going to be doing it when we have multiple subjects 00:12:10.63 --> 00:12:13. in the frame it's going to make him seem closer together 00:12:13.94 --> 00:12:17. so let's let's do the soccer shot again but here let's 00:12:17.18 --> 00:12:19. bring in some subjects now in this series we're starting 00:12:19.87 --> 00:12:23. off at eleven millimeters and kellen here in the foreground 00:12:23.6 --> 00:12:27. he is going to stay the same size in the subsequent 00:12:27.15 --> 00:12:31. frames coming up and in the back here in he is always 00:12:31.54 --> 00:12:32. going to be standing 00:12:33.74 --> 00:12:38. ten meters back but his size is going to change because 00:12:38.42 --> 00:12:40. we're going to use different lenses and so let's change 00:12:40.76 --> 00:12:43. from the eleven millimeter lands to the sixteen millimeter 00:12:43.66 --> 00:12:47. lands and the distance between them stays exactly 00:12:47.38 --> 00:12:51. the same as we move through our different lenses and 00:12:51.02 --> 00:12:54. as we go up closer or further and further up in our 00:12:54.06 --> 00:12:57. tele photos you will see that we're kind of flattening 00:12:57.08 --> 00:13:00. the distance between them becomes very apparent here 00:13:00.98 --> 00:13:03. notice how much bigger he is in the frame in the background 00:13:05.54 --> 00:13:09. up to two hundred still maintaining that ten meter 00:13:09.83 --> 00:13:11. ten yard difference between them 00:13:13.61 --> 00:13:16. until we get up to eight hundred where it almost looks 00:13:16.41 --> 00:13:18. like they're standing right next to each other but 00:13:18.09 --> 00:13:21. they are ten yards apart ten meters apart 00:13:22.6 --> 00:13:24. and so coming back to four hundred let's just bring 00:13:24.71 --> 00:13:27. it back to fifty so here it is with a fifty 00:13:28.89 --> 00:13:31. and now they hadn't my cameras in the same position 00:13:31.65 --> 00:13:33. but I'm having them moved back on the field 00:13:35.14 --> 00:13:39. but they're always ten yards ten meters apart and 00:13:39.19 --> 00:13:41. so that's the compression effect that you're getting 00:13:41.66 --> 00:13:44. with these longer telephoto lenses and so you can 00:13:44.34 --> 00:13:48. use this when you have multiple subjects spread out 00:13:48.17 --> 00:13:50. over a distance that you wanna have all in the same 00:13:50.59 --> 00:13:56. frame this is that very large array and eastern new 00:13:56.35 --> 00:14:00. mexico and I got there, and it looked different than 00:14:00.87 --> 00:14:03. I expected and what's kind of interesting about this 00:14:03.12 --> 00:14:05. place is that the satellite dishes, which they have 00:14:05.92 --> 00:14:09. twenty one of in three different arrays of seven, is that they can pick these up and they move them on these double railroad tracks and they move them around and it's a zoom lens. They're changing how far these antennas are to have either a narrower or a wider angle of you now for my photograph, I was a little disappointed because these things were spread out so far, the distance from one satellite run radio antenna to the next is almost a half mile between them. And so when we stretch from the first one to the last one it's close to, was it like four miles between the first and the last and so that's like the best compression photo best example of a compression photo, I confined but there's lots of examples. So these trees, these trees are thirty, forty feet apart from each other. But when you shoot with a really long lens, you get this compression effect, and you can create a pattern where it's really kind of hard to see the pattern with your own eyes until you get this lens out in front of you with this narrow angle of you compressing a subject against its background so once again, we have our subject. We have our background. They're both important. I want to show a little bit of the trees. So these are all just good examples of compressing our subject. I want all these sand dunes to be visible, kind of all in the same plane. These birds are on different branches, but I want them about the same size. So those who are our telephoto lenses now it's fun to shoot within eight hundred but we don't need it eight hundred although I will say if you are a photographer and you've been doing this for a while go rent a lands that is double your biggest lance so if you have a two hundred millimeter lands rent of four hundred millimeter lens for the weekend and just play with it that will make you better at using your two hundred and just kind of get a feel for that if you own a four hundred go ahead renan eight hundred splurge on yourself making your birthday gift to yourself that you're going to rent a lands and you're gonna go just play with it and it might just satisfy your needs I know like we'll get a fish eyes later but I borrowed a circular fish I for one day and that's all I needed to satisfy my thirst for a circular fisheye and so it's just one of those great experiences that yeah you should give that a try someday you know you may not need an eleven millimeter lens but you know what just take it out for a weekend and see what it's like you know I don't know of anyone in town that rinse lamborghinis but you know if I could do that for one hundred bucks I would definitely go rent a lamborghini but you can rent a lamborghini of lenses for about a hundred bucks for the day or the weekend, or something like that, in any case, the telephoto lens. So it's going to magnify your subject when you're further away from it? That's. Of course, we're going to get that shallow depth of field look, which could be very helpful for isolating our individual subject. Minimizes the background area. Now, I have a great example that I'm going to show you this in syriza shots coming up here in just a moment. But if there was just a little bit of clean wall that you wanted, I could position somebody shoot with a telephoto lens. And I'm just going to get a small area that wall because of that small, narrow angle of you, so visual example, coming up on that one compression, we talked a lot about that. Flattens the scene now sometimes we really want a three dimensional environment so certain types of landscape type shots maybe you're trying to show your house and you have a beautiful flower garden out out on the front of the house and you want to show where it is in the front and your house behind it I don't know that I would want to shoot that with a telephoto it might be possible but if you get up close with wide angle it's going to be a little bit more three dimensional with thes telephoto lenses they had to be a little bit more two dimensional and flat and you just have to decide as to what works for the type of scene that you're shooting so that is our telephoto lenses and I do have some more comparisons but let's check in and see what we have on questions regarding focal length well, first of all thank you, john on behalf of the chat rooms and everyone that is watching that is just saying I've never seen any explanation like this and thank you for all those visual examples. So thank you just to reiterate this is from nm what factors would influence using a prime wide angle vs zoom wide angle lens? So what are the differences there even appear at the same wide angle, right and so prime wide fixed focal length and zoom if they're the same number, they're going to see the same thing and it depends on some other factors for instance cannon doesn't make a sixteen millimeter prime lens and so if you want to shoot it sixteen you gotta buy one of their zoom lenses and so part of it is a big part of it is just what do they make in what's available and in the past there's been a big sharpness difference between them so the serious photographers always went for the primes but the fact of the matter now is that zooms and they've always said this zoom zahra's good is the primes where a few years ago the primes are always going to be sharper but the zooms seemed to be sharp enough for pretty much everyone's purposes thes days and so that's why a lot of photographers like myself own a mix of some primes and some zooms just to fit those different needs and when I first started photographing I was I always thought that like zoom was the same as telephoto yes and I think a lot of people do that right xenia incredibly calm you explain that yeah because there's so many people are saying wow that birds really far away you're going to need a zoom lens for that and I just want to hand them an eleven to twenty for zoom lens and say okay bring it closer with the zoom lens I think of zoom as a verb to move it just means changing you could be changing really wide angle you could be changing telephoto are something that covers the whole range. Telephoto is anything over. Fifty millimeters one hundred, two hundred, four hundred, eight hundred. Those are all telephoto. So you have telephoto zooms like a seventy two, two hundred. You have wide angle zooms like sixteen to thirty five zoom is something that changes telephoto is something over fifty. Great thank you for that, and then space on that. So does a telephoto versus a prime matter in the quality of the photo? Or is that not the right question to be asked? Yes does, and it doesn't in a theoretical sense, yes, there you can, you can rank one lens here and one lens here, but when you post a six hundred pixel image on facebook, who cares? It doesn't matter, and so you really have to judge how much impact does that have on your photography? If you're making forty by sixty inch prints on the wall that people are walking right up to and looking at super closely, then every bit of sharpness is super critical in that case. But for most of us, any cannon lens has good enough quality for basic picture taking.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

What's in the Frame? HD
What's in the Frame? LOW
Field of View HD
Field of View LOW
Lens Keynote Parts 1-4
Lens Keynote Parts 5-8
Canon® Lens Data

Ratings and Reviews


I so appreciate what a good teacher John is. I wish I would have known this much about lenses when I first started out buying my lenses. It was hard finding information about lenses. I didn't want to spend money on a lens I wouldn't use. The better understanding we have about our gear the better photographers we will be. I have never seen a class like this. Invaluable...yes I bought the class! I am really impressed with the high quality photography classes available on Creative Live!

Tami Miller

Have loved the other John Greengo classes I've watched & purchased - and this is another winner! Having been a high school/college science teacher, it is refreshing to take a course with someone who not only is extremely experienced, seems to be a computer having stored so much knowledge, but is equally concerned about making the information truly understandable to different levels. And he shares the information using every tool he can: slides, video, interactive presentations, and great quizzes. I learned so much about my Canon lenses - and lenses in general with their many components. I am excited about testing each of mine to see what macro ratio they handle, and especially appreciated the tutorial on testing each for their specific quirk that affects super sharpness. This class is great whether you own Canon lenses or not. Thanks John Greengo!


This was a great class not just about the lenses that Canon offers but also how each lens works. As usual, John's slides are alway informative and entertaining. There is a phrase: John has a slide for that! I am not even a Canon user and found this class to have great information for the use of each specific lens. Great work John! Thank you Creative Live for another great class!

Student Work