Wide Angle Lenses vs. Telephoto Lenses

The type of lens you use determines how the picture you’re taking will end up looking, just like with every other setting on the camera. You’ll see that every type of lens is best for a specific use, and if you want the best possible results you need to learn how to choose the perfect lens for the job. Joe McNally does a great job teaching us exactly how to do this in the video below:

The video focuses on two very different types of lenses: wide lenses and telephoto lenses.

Wide Angle Lenses

Wide lenses are great for capturing large surfaces, the entire background of your subject—or as in the example used in the video, a huge stack of cheeses.

parmesan cheese wheels with a wide angle lens

Wheels of cheese shot with a wide angle lens

They’re also great for creating a vertigo effect. For example, when shooting down a long hallway with a wide lens it will look like the walls are actually converging on a single point off in the distance.

wide lens telephoto lens difference

A hallway at Ellis Island shot with a wide-angle lens. You can see the two walls converging on a single point in the distance.

Telephoto Lenses

Telephoto lenses, on the other hand, are great for shooting things off in the distance.

windmills with telephoto lens

Shot with a telephoto lens

They’re often used for nature photography or sports photography, where you can’t physically get up close and personal with your subjects. The effect you get when shooting down a long hallway (or in our example above, a long bridge) is the opposite to the one you get with a wide lens. Also, objects that are farther apart from one another tend to appear closer when shot using a telephoto lens.

telephoto lens wide lens difference

A race on a bridge, shot with a telephoto lens at 600mm. Notice how the two sides of the bridge are perfectly parallel.

Many more examples about the differences between these lenses can be found in the video above. After you watch it be sure to leave us your opinion. Which lenses do you prefer? Why?

Like This Article?

Don't Miss The Next One!

Join over 100,000 photographers of all experience levels who receive our free photography tips and articles to stay current:

One response to “Wide Angle Lenses vs. Telephoto Lenses”

  1. dalton says:

    I am in the market for a new lens making this incredibly helpful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New! Want more photography tips? We now offer a free newsletter for photographers:

No, my photos are the best, close this forever