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Focal Length: Telephoto Lens

Lesson 6 from: Nikon Lenses: The Complete Guide

John Greengo

Focal Length: Telephoto Lens

Lesson 6 from: Nikon Lenses: The Complete Guide

John Greengo

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Lesson Info

6. Focal Length: Telephoto Lens


Class Trailer



Nikon Lens Class Introduction


Nikon 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


Equivalent Aperture


Depth of Field


Maximum Sharpness




Hyper Focal Distance


Nikon Mount Systems


Nikon Cine Lenses


Nikon Lens Design


Focusing and Autofocus with Nikon Lenses


Nikon Lens Vibration Reduction


Image Quality


Aperture Control and General Info


Nikon Standard Zoom Lenses


Nikon Super Zoom Lenses


Nikon Wide Angle Lenses


Nikon Telephoto Zoom Lenses


3rd Party Zooms Overview


3rd Party Zooms: Sigma


3rd Party Zooms: Tamron


3rd Party Zooms: Tokina




Nikon Prime Lens: Normal


Nikon Prime Lens: Wide Angle


Nikon Prime Lens: Ultra-Wide


Nikon Prime Lens: Short Telephoto


Nikon Prime Lens: Medium Telephoto


Nikon Prime Lens: Super Telephoto


3rd Party Primes: Sigma


3rd Party Primes: Zeiss


3rd Party Primes: Samyang


Lens Accessories: Filters


Lens Accessories: Lens Hood


Lens Accessories: Tripod Mount


Lens Accessories: Extension Tubes


Lens Accessories: Teleconverters


Macro Photography


Nikon Micro Lens Selection


Fisheye Lenses


Tilt Shift Photography Overview


Tilt Shift Lenses


Building a Nikon System


Making a Choice: Nikon Portrait Lenses


Making a Choice: Nikon Sport Lenses


Making a Choice: Nikon Landscape Lenses


Nikon Lens Systems


Lens Maintenance


Buying and Selling Lenses


Final Q&A


What's in the Frame


Lesson Info

Focal Length: Telephoto Lens

Telephoto lenses alright, everybody likes telephoto lens is right there the big, long cool ones they're the ones that will impress your neighbors all right, all right, so let's, start with our short tele photos were talking about one hundred millimeters and when I say one hundred what I really mean is eighty five one five one thirty five things in that general neighborhood all fit this sort of short telephoto category and so obviously going to be good for subjects that are a little bit further away you don't want a bunch of loose, empty space empty space in the photograph is something that can be nice, but sometimes we don't want, so we're going to be having our narrow angle of view for subjects further away great for somebody who has an eye for details and says, you know what? That looks really interesting right there, but I don't need all this other stuff and I think this is something that a lot of photographers get into because once you get through photo one one and one or two your ...

basics you start learning about clutter and things that don't work in the frame and things that you don't one in there so you start going well, let me just crop that stuff out and it's a very effective technique with coming out with a very clean image that doesn't have a lot of junk that is throwing off your image as a more clear message about what's going on and so telephoto lenses are extremely easy ways of getting good shots in a lot of different environments because you don't need the entire environment toe look good wide angle shots, I love it when I can pull out a really wide angle shot. That means the entire area looks beautiful telephoto shot means there's a section that looks really nice. This is also where you're gonna find a lot of the macro lenses. We're gonna have a really nice section on macro lenses when we get into the specialty lens section later in the class. More than anything else, these short tele photos are known for their portrait capabilities, and so they're often referred to as portrait lenses, and we're going to have some interesting comparisons using photographs, photographs of people at all, different focal nice with different lenses to see how it changes the shape of their face, because remember that soccer ball moving around? Well, we essentially have that same impact by using different lenses and where we stand in the cropping of them and so choosing the right lens. And so a lot of photographers have ended up around one hundred millimetres as their very favorite focal ink for shooting fortress just really good for showcasing details the goat tree, those aerial goes folks, real ghosts one of them fell out of the tree and made a lot of noise but was okay okay, I mentioned before that I think everyone's gonna want a lens that goes up to around two hundred millimeters that's a great eringel ofyou that's long enough it's easy to hand hold but it's a great way to pick off great details you might say and so once again maybe the whole scene isn't what you want you just want a little glimpse that showcases a glimmer of what's going on the telephoto lens is also really helped put in in fact one of the one of the aspects I talk about in composition in my fundamentals class that I think it's really nice to have a photograph, his mystery and what is mystery it's simply questions? We don't know the full story and so when we have a telephoto less you you may not know what this is, where the context in which it's at and that's perfectly fine for certain types of photograph I don't need to explain where this is on the side of the road in the canyon and there's a person selling it and bob loblaw, these people walking by but there's a glimpse of what's this it's kind of interesting I'd like to know more I'm going to look more closely at the photograph and so that kind of keeps your eye coming back and so there's all sorts of great little details with hints of things that are going on and telephoto lenses are a great ways to take mysterious photographs that don't have the complete story, but they have something of interest very good for that narrow angle of you when there is a particular little section that you want to showcase. This is in morocco, and it was so fun because our tour guide was constantly telling us every time we came into a new town and he would see if he was he was kind of embarrassed because, you know, this is this is the city that we live at, you'd say, oh, this town has lots of little white flowers and so that's the flower garden. This is also where you going to start getting into a lot of sports lens, sis and soe for subjects that are a little bit further away that you can't get close to your probably going to want something in the two hundred millimeter range, although we're going to talk about sport lenses in particular, and all the different lens is that you can different use, but two hundreds just kind of the starting point for that, and the same thing can be true of wildlife because they not so comfortable with humans too close and so. Two hundred and above is where you're gonna be looking at for most wildlife stuff, depending on the size of the animal in the proximity that you are away from it. Can you shoot portrait's here? Absolutely. And so one of the things that a lot of people they learn about like, ok, I want to get into this whole shallow depth of field thing, and I want this eighty five one point four lens from nikon because that's the way to get portrait shallow depth of field. Yeah, well, these air shot with f four lenses and look how blurry the backgrounds are and that's, because when you're using a two hundred millimeter lens, you tend to have shallow depth of field when you're shooting a tight headshot and so you can get that look of really shallow depth of field with a lens that's not that fast and so you don't have to buy that super fast portrait lens just to get that one shot. There are multiple tools for solving these types of problems let's jump up a little bit to the four hundred millimeter lands four hundred millimeter lands is for the serious photographer it's, probably the biggest lens that they're likely tone it's, the biggest lens that most people are going to feel comfortable handholding once you go beyond it, the lenses get too big and too heavy. And they just get to be a real challenge. So four hundred millimeter lands for outdoor sports motor sports lens, whether it's cars or airplanes or things like that very useful tool because you're so far back from your subject's going to be popular with your wildlife photographers of all different scales, bird photographers are going to want four hundred and up depending on the size of the bird, four hundred works pretty good for large animals. Large mammals also could be good for landscapes. One of the effects that were going to talk about in the this section is compression. Each of these hills is maybe fifty yards behind the other, and we're compressing all of those into one two dimensional shot. These penguins, the other fairly tightly packed in there but probably not as tightly packed as this photograph makes them look. The compression effect same could be said of these tulips here. One of the things that we can do with these telephoto lenses have really shallow depth of field telephoto lenses tend to have very shallow depth of field. And look how well I can highlight one runner in this race from everyone else in the crowd using that same technique for wildlife. This is a this is a great example why you should be comfortable manual focusing your lenses because there is no camera that would be ableto auto focus the situation this is something that you have to dial in yourself having that controls nice to have, and so one of the features that will talk about on lenses is a manual focus override. We're even though your cameras and auto focus you can go in and just manually figure out exactly where you want it so that you could get a shot like this. All right, let's jump up to the biggest gun they make the eight hundred millimeter lands. So this is obviously not the lands that everyone needs, but it might be the lens you might want to rent for the weekend, depending on what sort of thing that you might be doing now. There's a a number of ways to get to eight hundred beyond just in eight hundred millimeter lens you could take a four hundred millimeter and put a two times tele converter. Now we will talk specifically about tele converters in another section, but that is doubling the focal length of our four hundred millimeter lands. Or we could take a five hundred put a one point four on it gets seven hundred and you know when it comes down to it, seven hundred eight hundred are all pretty close. Ok, we could take a three hundred millimeter lands, put a one point for converter on it. Put that on a camera that has a one point five crop factor and that gets us up to six thirty which is generally in the neighborhood we could also take that same set up put on a doubler and get ourselves up to nine hundred and that is also in the neighborhood and so that's how I've gotten a number of photographs that you'll see in here and so I don't own an eight hundred I rarely use in eight hundred I have their neat they're fun but they're very limiting and how you can use them because it's either eight hundred or longer it's much easier to have a four hundred and put a doubler on it in many cases it's not quite as good technically in quality so it depends on how much you need an eight hundred millimeter lens if you plan to shoot and you need an eight hundred, then you buy an eight hundred and so one of the things we'll talk about it well should I get this lens or that lens and a tele converter whatever lends you use the most what focal if you find most useful is probably where you should buy your lands and so these eight hundreds are going to be great for subjects that you just can't get close to and they could be animals that could be people they could be other things that you find out one of the effects is that compression effect the distance from this very to that mountain is probably twenty five miles just guessing now the distance from that building to that moon not sure the distance but somebody knows it all stopped their head it's what is it two hundred eighty six thousand miles? That sounds no one so in saying I'm wrong somebody will put that I'm guessing it's two hundred eighty six thousand miles somebody check the distance to the moon see how close I am I don't know and so that compression effect the bear and these people are probably a quarter mile apart and so let's talk specifically about the compression effect what does it mean to flatten or to squeeze into a smaller space? And so I just wanted to do a real simple comparison now these two players are going to stay in this series of photos starting at sixteen going up to eight hundred millimeters they're going to stay ten meters apart ten yards apart if you will so they're always staying the same distance and what what's happening is I'm switching lenses and I'm having them moved back further so that our player in blue stays about full frame in here so the player and blue stays the same size as we move throughout these different frames and as we move to one hundred is where you're going to start to really notice a difference so here's where we start to get ah lot of that compression effect look how much bigger the player in the background is getting because we're using a longer telephoto lens and the apparent distance between the two of them is becoming less and less and when we shoot it within eight hundred it almost looks as if they're standing right next to each other but one is actually ten meters behind the other one and let's go back down to fifty just tio go back down to a normal lands and so this is what it looks like normally with your eyes but as I have them move further away and use a telephoto lands this is gonna have a big impact when I talk about sports lenses when I get to recommended lenses in the final section of the class and so that's the compression effect is when you have two subjects whether there are equal subjects or a primary and a secondary subject and they're a relatively far distance apart but from your point of view they seem like they're close together and so that is the compression effect and that was probably never more evident and when I was down in new mexico at the very large array which is this interesting array of twenty one and tennis on three different accesses and I lined myself up with one and when I got there I was a little disappointed because this is where they filmed contact in a number of other like armageddon movies and these dishes were all strung out over miles, but when I got in this position and I used what did I use her? I think somewhere between I think I used in eight hundred here used an eight hundred year the distance from one satellite dish to the other is almost a half mile and what happens here is you can see the double railroad tracks they picked these intent is up and they move them about twice a year and what they're doing is they're changing the size of the receiving dish it zoom lands they're zooming back and forth now it's a very slow zoom because they zoom for about four months and then they move it out to another position for four months and then they move it out and so they're spread out and the distance from the first radio antenna to the seventh one out there is it's like four miles and so that's a great showcasing compression but these trees each of these trees is probably thirty feet from the next tree but standing further away with a telephoto lens, you get this compression effect. One of the nice things about these long lenses is that you have a relatively small background area so you can really choose a very tight background and get your subject right in front of that background and so subject in the foreground just a hint of what's going on in the background compressing the sand dunes that are one hundred yards of heart or birds that are, you know, a foot up so apart, but they look like they're almost right next to each other, so my final thoughts and tips for using the telephoto lens and so if you can't physically get closer, obviously the telephoto lens is what you want for that it's going to give you a shallow depth of field telephoto lenses tend to just want to have a little bit and focus, and so if you're trying to isolate a subject, a telephoto lens is the easiest way to get that done it's going to minimize the background area you saw example there he talked about going to have another even more clear example coming up here in a moment and it's doing that compression effect between the foreground and the background. So if you say, you know there's a subject and I want it, draw attention to the juxtaposition between these two subjects. Get a telephoto lens, get far away and get them lined up properly, and it does kind of flattens scene I kind of lose a little bit of a three dimensional space into it and that's okay, sometimes we do want a flat scene it's like it's, a piece of artwork and so it's to be a good time, too. Check in for any kind of final questions on those we're going to have a final little comparison here before we're done with focal length. First of all, we've got a lot of different numbers for how far it is to the moon, so I'm not sure which websites people are looking at so well, it's not that hard to one hundred and thirty nine thousand. We've got three hundred eighty five thousand. Well, okay, so here's the problem for is that it does vary because for some reason, for the last five years, I've heard the news talk aboutthe supermoon it's as close to the earth as it's going to be for five years and they see this they say this every year it seems like so it does vary, so there are gonna be multiple numbers but there's probably an average a minimum, but my two hundred eighty six thousand is that is that in the ballpark ballpark in the ballpark so I'm not like wildly off one hundred eighty million miles away. Oh, I see. I'm also reporting summer kilometers summer miles so thank you. We have a global audience week on an icon. Kilometres. Miles? Yes, thank you.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Nikon® Lenses Part 1
Nikon® Lenses Part 2
Nikon® Lenses Part 3
Nikon® Lenses Part 4
Field of View
Nikon® Lenses Part 5
Nikon® Lenses Part 6
Nikon® Lenses Part 7
Nikon® Lenses Part 8
Nikon® Lens Data

Ratings and Reviews


Outstanding class! This is a must own. You will refer back to this class many times during your photog career. John has put a ton of work into this class and it shows. Being able to download the slides and other Nikon glass info is wonderful. Even if you're not a Nikon shooter you will still gleam tons of information from this class, John covers in great detail the strength and weaknesses of each lens and when you might consider using it. I was expecting a good class, but this turned into an epic class. I watched multiple videos several times. The only bad thing I can say is I "had" to order a few more lenses! Thank you John Greengo for making a truly amazing class.

Anna Fennell

Wow! What a course! Very in depth, lots of valuable information. John instructs with great knowledge and integrity. I have taken other online courses, NOT from Creative Live (my bad!) and was left feeling like a monkey who had learned tricks without understanding or knowledge. Now I feel I have the confidence to move forward on my photographic journey securely knowing how lenses function, what to look for and what price range I can expect. Bravo John! I'd love to see a 2020 update video as an addendum.

Fusako Hara

Finally I have some sense of what lens do, know what I have, what I would like to have, what lens to use, and how I can get images that I see. Best part of this session is it was made so clear, simple, logical, and practical. I am glad that I purchased this product. Now, I am going to look for more from John Greengo so I can take better understanding and take better images. Thank You.

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