Difference Between Wide Angle and Telephoto Lens

Photographic lenses or more 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.

Wide Angle vs Telephoto Lens

The main difference between a wide-angle and telephoto lens is that a wide-angle lens helps in increasing the horizontal view or field of the shot. Whereas a telephoto lens helps in increasing the focus on a subject. There are other differences between the two in terms of their usage.

Wide Angle and Telephoto Lens

A wide-angle lens refers to the type of lens having a focal length that is 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 SLR’s, DSLR’s, and even smartphones.

Telephoto lenses are used by photographers for focusing 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 SLR’s, DSLR’s, and even smartphones. These are perfect for portraits of subjects and wildlife photography.

Comparison Table Between Wide Angle and Telephoto Lens

Parameters of ComparisonWide Angle Telephoto 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 the type of lens having a focal length that is shorter than a normal lens. This short focal length derived from using a wide lens is utilized by photographers for expanding a camera shot’s horizontal scope.

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 a 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 allows the photographer to cover the maximum view in a single frame.

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

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. These lenses are used by photographers for focusing 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’s camera body. This can also be attached to smartphones. There is a wide variety of telephoto lenses with different focal lengths, shutter speeds, and f-stop numbers.

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

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.

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 for the benefit of increasing the focus on a subject.
  2. When 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.
  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. By focusing on a single subject and blurring out the background, a telephoto lens creates a contrast.
Difference Between Wide Angle and Telephoto Lens

Conclusion

Wide-angle and telephoto lenses are two different types of lenses having differences in terms of focus, subjects, lengths, and purpose.

Wide-angle lenses serve for the benefit of increasing the horizontal view or field of the shot, and telephoto lenses serve for the benefit of increasing the focus on a subject.

For landscape photography, wide angle lenses are more suitable than telephoto lenses. For wildlife photography or portraits of subjects, telephoto lenses are a perfect choice.

And when it comes to architectural photography, wide angle lenses are the most suitable. Telephoto lenses help in better contrast creation.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9783527699247.ch4
  2. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/109264202762252776
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