Difference Between Zoom and Telephoto

Making your passion your career is the most satisfying achievement and fulfillment one can have. Not just in academics, but also in extracurriculars like dance, music, and photography, each field is flourishing in its way.

Photography is a fascinating and intriguing activity and a job that many people like, and here you will understand the difference between zoom and telephoto, which are commonly used lenses in photography.

Zoom Vs Telephoto

The main difference between zoom and telephoto is that zoom is a lens used during dynamic photography with a changeable focal length, whilst telephoto is a lens suited for static photography with a fixed depth of field greater than 50mm. A zoom lens can transform into a telephoto lens, but a telephoto lens cannot always transform into a zoom lens.

Zoom Vs Telephoto

The zoom lens is well-known for its changeable focal length, which may be adjusted to meet the needs of the photographer.

Because of their wide range of focal lengths, zoom lenses are widely utilized for capturing moving objects as well as wildlife photography.

A telephoto lens compresses the viewpoint by bringing the depth of field and then the backdrop together and crushing them together. Telephoto lenses are fast since they don’t enable you to switch between focal lengths.

Comparison Table Between Zoom and Telephoto

Parameters of Comparison ZoomTelephoto
Meaning With a changeable focal length, a zoom lens is utilised for dynamic photography.A telephoto lens has a defined focal length of more than 50mm and is used for static photography.
LensThe use of a zoom lens reduces the number of lenses required.A telephoto lens lowers the size of a lens.
FocusZoom lenses allow you to focus on objects at varied distances without changing lenses.The telephoto lens is smaller which has the same focal distance.
UseFor landscape and casual photography, zoom lenses are typically used.Telephoto lenses are expensive and only intended for wide-angle photos.
Focal Length The zoom lens ranges from 70-200mm to 400mm.A telephoto lens is generally around greater than 60mm of focal length.

What Is Zoom?

A zoom lens is one of the most essential lenses used in photography and is popular for its flexible focal length, such as a lens having a focal length of 70-300mm that can shoot anything vast at 70mm

and also shoot something nearer by adjusting the focal length to something increased.

It is beneficial to use a zoom variable lens since it can be changed into multiple forms and eliminates the need to move around with different lenses, making it very useful in photography.

Wildlife and sports photographs benefit from zoom lenses. As people can’t get near to animals and they rarely stay still, zoom lenses allow you to vary focal length as per the distance required to capture the picture.

A zoom lens is also essential for landscape and portrait photography since it focuses on specific areas of the landscape and so allows for better portrait pictures.

There are two kinds of zoom lenses: cheap ones with diameters of f/4 or f/5.6, which are not recommended because they produce a milky smooth blur, and telephoto zoom lenses with apertures of 50 mm f/1.8.

What Is Telephoto?

A telephoto lens shrinks a perspective by squeezing it all together and bringing the depth of field together to fit far more into a frame,

and you don’t get this kind of perspective where objects in the foreground appear very large and things in the distance disappear.

If the theme is fixed, certain items can only be used in specific places.

A telephoto lens typically forces one to hang aside and try to fit it all into the frame, which is not always possible with a wide-angle lens in nature photography.

The telephoto lens concentrates on the most crucial components of the scene while deleting everything else.

There are certain moments when the backdrop completely detracts from the image, but it is something one does not want to put in a picture where the most intriguing portion is something.

It is for this reason that the telephoto lens is appealing: it helps to reach out above the mundane foreground and frame more fascinating components of the scene.

Main Differences Between Zoom and Telephoto

  1. A zoom lens is utilized for dramatic photography because of its adjustable focal length, whereas a telephoto lens has a fixed focal length of more than 50mm and is used for static photography.
  2. A zoom lens minimizes the number of lenses needed, but a telephoto lens reduces the size of a lens.
  3. Zoom lenses help to focus on items at different distances without having to change lenses. The telephoto lens, on the other hand, is smaller and has the same focal distance.
  4. Zoom lenses are commonly used for scenery and casual photography, whereas telephoto lenses are expensive and only designed for wide-angle shots.
  5. A zoom lens has a focal length of 70-200mm to 400mm, but a telephoto lens has a focal length of more than 60mm.
Difference Between Zoom and Telephoto


When it comes to addressing photography equipment, particularly lenses, there could be some ambiguity in the terms and concepts.

Zoom lenses are generally favored by photographers over telephoto lenses because they are thought to be more capable.

A zoom lens is an amazing addition to photography due to its flexible focal length function since it catches perfect photographs near or far away depending on one’s requirements, which telephoto lenses do not have.

The telephoto lens produces significantly clearer and more appealing photos, but it has fewer variants. A telephoto lens could be used for portrait photography, making fixed-point films, or taking sharp photos with a set focal length.


  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7268428/
  2. https://www.spiedigitallibrary.org/conference-proceedings-of-spie/10263/1026307/Zoom-lens-principles-and-types/10.1117/12.131970.short
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