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Brian Liepe: We've looked at wide-angle lenses, which have focal lengths up to 30 mm to 35 mm. Now we're going to at the long lens or the telephoto lenses that have focal lengths from about 50 mm and up. Chad Perkins: Just as wide angle lenses zoom out so you could see more of what's going on, telephoto lenses, often referred to as long lenses, zoom in so you can get closer. And also in the same way that wide-angle lenses tend to expand subjects, so it expands the distance between objects, telephoto lenses, or long lenses, tend to compress the distance between subject and foreground and other objects in your scene.
Brian Liepe: So again, going back to the horror movie example. If you are shooting a character running from danger, you could use a long lens which again compresses space. This would make the character seem to run without traveling much distance which can increase the tension. Chad Perkins: So let's say you're shooting a subject against a background in the distance. If you wanted to bring this subject and background closer together without actually moving anything, you could just use a longer lens. If you want the distance to between the objects to remain the same, but you wanted to be closer to the subject, you would want to actually physically move closer to the subject.
Or if you want to make it seem as if the talent was closer to danger than they are, a long lens might be a good choice there as well. Another benefit of using a long lens is that you generally get a better shallow depth of field effect. If for example you want to create some beautiful Bokeh, which is what we refer to the out of focus areas of the image. Then you probably want to use a longer lens for that. Wider lenses have a really tough time getting beautiful bokeh regardless of whatever camera settings you're using.
Brian Liepe: One last word of warning when using a telephoto lens; the longer the focal length the more sensitive to movement the lens becomes. So if you're dialed in on a long focal length and you're moving a little bit, you may not feel it that much, the lens is really going to see that shakiness. Here's a hand-held shot with a wide-angle lens. The shake is noticeable but it doesn't ruin the shot. Here's the same exact shot with a really long lens. And the shake makes the shot unusable as it is.
The use of different lenses provides so many creative options, not only for magnification, but for storytelling as well.
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