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Understanding super telephoto


From:

Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses

with Ben Long

Video: Understanding super telephoto

When most people think of a telephoto lens, they think of one that magnifies. And while it's true that a telephoto lens does let you enlarge things that are far away, you can also think of a telephoto lens as one that has a narrow field of view. In fact, if a lens has a field of view that's narrower than a normal lens, that is narrower that what you can see with your eye, then we think of that lens as a telephoto. A little bit of telephoto isn't that noticeable. For example, there is a difference between a 50-mm lens and an 80-mm lens, but you wouldn't necessarily look at the 80-mm image and immediately think, "Oh, that's a telephoto image." So we tend to think of telephoto as lenses that present a very telescopic magnified view, and you probably already have some telephoto power in your camera's kit zoom lens.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 4m 10s
    1. Welcome
      1m 46s
    2. Roadmap of the course
      2m 24s
  2. 3m 53s
    1. Words about focal length
      2m 6s
    2. Understanding camera position
      1m 47s
  3. 39m 19s
    1. What filters are for
      2m 37s
    2. Shopping for filters
      3m 55s
    3. Understanding neutral density filters
      4m 53s
    4. Applying neutral density filters
      3m 55s
    5. Polarizing filters
      3m 4s
    6. Some shooting tips for working with a polarizing filter
      2m 32s
    7. Using infrared filters
      9m 15s
    8. Processing the infrared image
      6m 7s
    9. Handling stuck filters
      3m 1s
  4. 38m 37s
    1. Working with ultra-wide lenses
      7m 19s
    2. Using a wide-angle lens
      4m 43s
    3. Understanding fisheye lenses
      4m 2s
    4. Working with fisheye lenses
      3m 59s
    5. Understanding fisheye exposure
      3m 3s
    6. Taking fisheye further
      4m 16s
    7. Processing fisheye and wide-angle images
      7m 38s
    8. Correcting tone in fisheye images
      3m 37s
  5. 35m 37s
    1. Understanding super telephoto
      6m 21s
    2. Shooting distant subjects
      8m 26s
    3. Compressing the sense of depth
      7m 53s
    4. Working with shallow depth of field
      5m 35s
    5. Working with teleconverters
      2m 38s
    6. Editing telephoto images
      4m 44s
  6. 16m 47s
    1. Understanding macro basics
      2m 47s
    2. Shooting close
      4m 52s
    3. Shooting macro
      5m 20s
    4. Working with a point-and-shoot for macro
      1m 58s
    5. Using a two-lens strategy
      1m 50s
  7. 16m 39s
    1. Understanding tilt shift
      3m 37s
    2. Correcting perspective
      4m 29s
    3. Creating the toy effect
      4m 41s
    4. Deepening depth of field
      3m 52s
  8. 32m 39s
    1. Working with specialty lenses
      2m 43s
    2. Using the Lensbaby
      9m 13s
    3. Working with the Lensbaby Macro attachment
      3m 50s
    4. Shooting with a Holga attachment
      3m 4s
    5. Using an alternative mount lens
      2m 18s
    6. Using super-fast lenses
      1m 47s
    7. Correcting Lensbaby images
      9m 44s
  9. 39m 48s
    1. Correcting perspective
      10m 41s
    2. Creating the toy effect
      6m 31s
    3. Getting the lo-fi Holga look
      11m 17s
    4. Reproducing the effect of a Lensbaby
      8m 17s
    5. Cropping and enlarging images
      3m 2s
  10. 2m 47s
    1. Choosing whether to borrow or buy
      2m 0s
    2. Goodbye
      47s

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Watch the Online Video Course Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses
3h 50m Intermediate Dec 17, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Join photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long on location in San Francisco as he explores the creative options provided by the kinds of lenses and lens accessories that don't always make it into most camera bags.

The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.

The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.

Subject:
Photography
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Ben Long

Understanding super telephoto

When most people think of a telephoto lens, they think of one that magnifies. And while it's true that a telephoto lens does let you enlarge things that are far away, you can also think of a telephoto lens as one that has a narrow field of view. In fact, if a lens has a field of view that's narrower than a normal lens, that is narrower that what you can see with your eye, then we think of that lens as a telephoto. A little bit of telephoto isn't that noticeable. For example, there is a difference between a 50-mm lens and an 80-mm lens, but you wouldn't necessarily look at the 80-mm image and immediately think, "Oh, that's a telephoto image." So we tend to think of telephoto as lenses that present a very telescopic magnified view, and you probably already have some telephoto power in your camera's kit zoom lens.

Typical telephoto lenses range between 50 and 200 mm. Once you go passed 200 mm, you're entering the range of the super telephoto, which I'm going to call 300 mm and up. The defining characteristic of these lenses is that they give you a tremendous amount of magnification power, making them ideal for shooting far away objects. You'll use super telephoto for times when you can't get close to your subject. Nature shooters and sports shooters are the most obvious candidates for this big lenses. But longer focal lengths also compress the sense of depth in your scene.

If you're unfamiliar with this idea, check out my Foundations of Photography: Lenses course. With the ability to compress depth, I can create compositions that are impossible with the lens that has a shorter focal length. The depth of field in your image is a function of your current aperture setting and the size of the image sensor in your camera. But depth of field is also controlled by filling more of your frame with your subject. This is all explained in Foundations of Photography: Exposure. Because of their narrow field of view and their depth compressing qualities, super telephoto lenses lets you isolate your subject with shallow depth of field effects.

For the mot part, lenses in this category work pretty much as you'd expect, and you've probably already got some experience with zooming into your subject to get a closer view. However, working with a very long lens can actually be a little bit tricky, and to get the best results you'll need to practice some specific techniques. Your main concern when working with an extremely long lens is vibration and camera shake. Now, if I got a field of view that's this big, and I shake the lens a little bit, I don't really notice it that much because the area that this image is being cropped is so tiny.

But if I've only got an area that's this big, and I shake by the same amount, you'll notice it a lot more. So with a very long lens it can be harder to frame your shot because a tiny little motion will create a big change in your composition. Since a very long lens makes vibration more noticeable, image sharpness becomes much more of a concern. If you're shooting handheld with one of this lenses, then it's critical to remember your handheld shutter rule: minimum shutter speed should not drop below one over your focal length. If you're shooting with a cropped sensor camera, then be sure to multiply your focal length by your focal length multiplier when doing your handheld shutter speed rule.

Now, that rule is just the starting point. With these lenses it's safer to err on the side of an even faster shutter speed. It takes a lot of glass to make a big telephoto lens which means that they're inherently going to be big, and it takes even more glass to make a lens that can open to a very wide aperture. For example, a 300-mm F4 lens will weigh about 2 pounds while a 300-mm F2.8 lens will weigh in more like 7 or 8 pounds. Consequently, most super telephoto lenses don't have particularly large maximum apertures.

For example, this lens here is an f/4.5 to 5.6. So the practical upshot is that when I'm using a lens like this I'm more often going to be shooting with smaller apertures, and that will mean, again, longer shutter speed which will add further complication to the whole stable shooting thing. So with that in mind, most of these lenses come with stabilization, and stabilization will make your telephoto shooting much easier. Stabilization is an internal mechanism in the lens that allows it to rebuild its optics on the fly to compensate for any vibration or shake you have in your hand.

Here, you can see that I've got a stabilizer switch for turning stabilization on and off. You might find it's better to turn it off when you're working on a tripod. Sometimes tripod movements, because they're so controlled, can confuse stabilization mechanisms. I've also got two different modes of stabilization. Depending on your lens, some cameras will let you control stabilization so it only stabilizes on one axis or the other to help you smooth panning or give you overall stabilization. Other lenses will have stabilization options that let you change the frequency of the vibration that the lens is trying to correct.

So stabilization will go a long way towards helping you shoot more stable footage. Tripods, of course, are the other obvious way to stabilize your camera. And with a lens this big, and this heavy, your tripod choice is going to be more relevant than the tripod head choice. It's really going to come down to how sturdy the sticks are and how well they hold your camera up. Something else to notice about a lens like this is in addition to my autofocus and manual focus switch, I have the option of changing the focus range of the autofocus mechanism.

This is here just to speed up auto focusing. If I know that I'm working with a subject that's closer, then I might switch to the 1.8 meters to infinity that will allow it to focus as close as almost 2 meters. If my subject is definitely farther away than that, then I might want to switch out to 6 & 1/2 meters to infinity. That will keep it from searching through the entire focus range, and that will speed up my autofocus. If you're shooting a moving subject, then you'll want to enable your camera's servo tracking feature. With an especially large lens like this, though, rather than trying to track a moving subject, you might want to try to anticipate its location.

Particularly when you're zoomed in all the way, it's difficult to find something out there in the world when you're looking through a lens like this. So trying to get it and follow it can be trickier. If you see that it's going to be in a particular place, set up your shot there, get everything focused, and then fire when it gets in the frames. This is true for wildlife and sport shooting. All of the lenses that we're going to look at in this course require practice to you as well, and these big telephotos are no exception. They take a very different skill set than wide-angle lenses do. So be prepared to spend some time learning how to use them.

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