Lenses that have a relatively short focal length are known as wide angle lenses, whilst those with a longer focal length are referred to as telephoto lenses. This month’s You Connect camera tutorial takes a look at focal length, and how different lens
focal lengths affect the images that you take.
Wide Angle Lenses
Wide angle lenses have a short focal length, usually around 28mm. Less distance between the lens and the focal point means that a greater amount of light can enter onto the film plane or camera sensor, which is why these lenses are referred to as
wide angle. Photographing with a short focal length means that you can get a wider angle of view. Shorter focal lengths also mean that, generally, the lens is more appropriate for use when taking images where you wish to have a large depth of field (where
more of the picture is in focus). Wide angle lenses are especially useful when photographing large groups of people, landscapes, or large objects.
Telephoto lenses have a greater focal length, generally from 78mm upwards. Converse to the wide angle lens, greater distance between the lens and the focal point means that less light can enter onto the film plane or camera sensor, decreasing the
lens’s view angle. Lenses with a larger focal length are generally better when you wish to have a small depth of field (where only part of the image is in focus, and the background may be blurry). Telephoto lenses are more suitable for photographing
wildlife, portraits, or shooting objects that are a greater distance away.