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.
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.
There are currently no FAQs about Foundations of Photography: Specialty Lenses.
Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.
Search within course videos and transcripts, and jump right to the results.
Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.
Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.
Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.