Wide Angle vs Telephoto Lens: Difference and Comparison

Photographic lenses, commonly known as camera lenses, are attachable to a camera body. These lenses are tools utilized for bringing light to a specific focal point.

They are made up of a series of glass plates. These glass plates can be concave or convex.

Key Takeaways

  1. Wide-angle lenses have a short focal length and cover a broad field of view, while telephoto lenses have a long focal length and capture a narrower, more magnified view.
  2. Wide-angle lenses produce images with greater depth of field, making them ideal for landscape, architectural, and interior photography, while telephoto lenses are perfect for wildlife, sports, and portrait photography.
  3. Telephoto lenses can compress perspective and isolate subjects from the background, while wide-angle lenses emphasize the foreground and create a sense of distance between objects.

Wide Angle vs Telephoto Lens

A wide-angle lens has a shorter focal length than a standard lens, which allows it to capture a wider field of view. A telephoto lens has a longer focal length than a standard lens, which allows it to magnify the image and bring distant objects closer, create a shallow depth of field, etc.

Wide Angle vs Telephoto Lens

A wide-angle lens refers to a lens with a focal length shorter than a normal lens. A wide-angle lens serves the benefit of increasing the horizontal view or field of the shot. These can be attached to SLRs, DSLRs, and even smartphones.

Photographers use telephoto lenses to focus on one object or subject. It also helps in blurring the background. And therefore, creating a contrast between the foreground and background.

These can be attached to SLRs, DSLRs, and even smartphones. These are perfect for portraits of subjects and wildlife photography.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonWide AngleTelephoto Lens
BenefitA wide angle lens serves for the benefit of increasing the horizontal view or field of the shot.A telephoto lens serves for the benefit of increasing the focus on a subject.
Landscape photographyWhen capturing a landscape wide angle lens allows the photographer to cover the maximum view in a single frame. A telephoto is not helpful in this case as it helps in focusing on a single subject and not the entire view.
Wildlife photographyIn terms of wildlife photography, a wide angle lens may not  be the perfect choice.A telephoto lens is a perfect choice for wildlife photography as it helps to focus on the animal and blur out the background which amplifies the details of the animal/bird.
Architecture photographyAs a wide angle lens captures a wider view, it is suitable for capturing architectural designs.As telephoto lenses focus on a single subject it is not suitable for capturing architectural designs.
ContrastIt does not create a contrast.By focusing on a single subject and blurring out the background it creates a contrast.

What is Wide Angle?

A wide-angle lens refers to a type of lens with a shorter focal length than a normal lens. Photographers utilize this short focal length derived from a wide lens to expand a camera shot’s horizontal scope.

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A wide-angle lens serves the benefit of increasing the horizontal view or field of the shot.

When using this type of lens, the object close to the camera will seem larger than it actually is. This results in a bit of barrel distortion of an image.

Unless the subject or object is closer to the lens, the lens helps in keeping everything in focus. A full 180-degree radius can be captured using a specific lens, also known as an ultra-wide-angle lens or a fish-eye lens.

This is also used in photography and cinematography for creating perspective distortion.

These lenses are attached to the SLR or DSLR’s camera body. Some of these lenses can be attached to smartphone cameras as well. When capturing a landscape wide angle lens, the photographer can cover the maximum view in a single frame.

As a wide-angle lens captures a wider view, it is suitable for capturing architectural designs.

wide angle lens

What is Telephoto Lens?

A telephoto lens refers to a focus lens enabling the utilization of a shorter focal length than the lens’ physical length. Photographers use these lenses to focus on one object or subject.

It also helps in blurring the background. And therefore, creating a contrast between the foreground and background. A telephoto is not helpful in landscape photography as it helps in focusing on a single subject and not the entire view.

Similar to wide-angle lenses, it is attachable to any SLR or DSLR camera body. This can also be attached to smartphones. A wide variety of telephoto lenses have different focal lengths, shutter speeds, and f-stop numbers.

Example- 70–200mm lenses: Medium telephoto lenses can zoom to any focal length within the zoom range. Suitable for everything; 100–400mm lenses: Longer zooming range; 85mm prime lenses: Shallow field depth.

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Create better contrast; 135mm prime lenses: Having Shallow depth of field at greater distances. Suitable for events and parties; Super telephoto lenses starting from 600mm: Wildlife photography.

A telephoto lens is a perfect choice for wildlife photography as it helps to focus on the animal and blur out the background, which amplifies the details of the animal/bird.

telephoto lens

Main Differences Between Wide Angle and Telephoto Lens

  1. A wide-angle lens serves the benefit of increasing the horizontal view or field of the shot. A wide-angle lens serves the benefit of increasing the focus on a subject.
  2. When capturing a landscape wide angle lens, the photographer can cover the maximum view in a single frame. A telephoto is not helpful in this case as it helps in focusing on a single subject and not the entire view.
  3. In terms of wildlife photography, a wide-angle lens may not be a perfect choice. A telephoto lens is a perfect choice for wildlife photography as it helps to focus on the animal and blur out the background, which amplifies the details of the animal/bird.
  4. As a wide-angle lens captures a wider view, it is suitable for capturing architectural designs. As telephoto lenses focus on a single subject, it is not suitable for capturing architectural designs.
  5. A wide-angle lens does not create a contrast. A telephoto lens creates contrast by focusing on a single subject and blurring out the background.
Difference Between Wide Angle and Telephoto Lens
References
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9783527699247.ch4
  2. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/109264202762252776

Last Updated : 14 June, 2023

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6 thoughts on “Wide Angle vs Telephoto Lens: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The article is quite insightful and informative. It effectively highlights the varied applications and benefits of using wide-angle and telephoto lenses. The references provided also add credibility to the content.

    Reply
  2. While the article offers good insight into the differences between wide-angle and telephoto lenses, I think a practical example or case study would have been helpful to illustrate these concepts.

    Reply
  3. This article provides a comprehensive guide on photographic lenses. The details regarding their functions and benefits are well explained. I found it very informative.

    Reply
  4. The content presented in the article is well-organized and delivers a wealth of knowledge about photographic lenses. The comparisons between wide-angle and telephoto lenses are particularly useful for photographers.

    Reply
  5. The article seems to oversimplify the concept of wide-angle and telephoto lenses. The information appears generic and lacks in-depth analysis of the subject matter. It may benefit from more technical specifications and real-world examples.

    Reply

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