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Old 09-22-2008   #1
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Default Telephoto vs. Zoom

While this question may be "Photography 101" for some, a relative newbie like myself does not really know the difference between a "telephoto" lens and a "zoom" lens. If I can be enlighten as to the differences/similarities, I would be much appreciative.

Thanks in advance for your replies.

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Old 09-22-2008   #2
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Default Re: Telephoto vs. Zoom

Well I'm no expert by any means, but i do believe a zoom is something like a 70-200mm(70mm closest distance and 200 the farthest) and a telephoto is "fixed" such as a 300mm(you can not adjust focus length)

If I am wrong, please someone give the correct info.
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Old 09-22-2008   #3
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Default Re: Telephoto vs. Zoom

A "zoom" lens is any lens with variable focal length, meaning you can change the field of view and re-frame your subject without physically moving from where you are sitting/standing, as you would with a "prime" lens. On pretty much every SLR lens (there are exceptions) this is achieved by turning a rubber or metal ring around the lens, referred to as the "zoom ring". On some point-and-shoots, zoom lenses are motor-driven, and the motor is controlled by a rocker switch, pair of buttons, or something similar.

A "telephoto" lens is a lens that offers a fairly tight angle of view, bringing you "closer" to the subject. In 35mm (24x36mm capture area) format terms, 70mm focal length and longer are considered "telephoto". 300mm and over is sometimes referred to as "supertelephoto".

Some telephotos are zoom lenses (i.e. 70-200 f/2.8, 200-400 f/4), but not all zooms are telephotos (i.e. 14-24 f/2.8, 17-35 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8 ).

Your 18-55 VR and 55-200 VR lenses are both zooms, but only the 55-200 qualifies as a "telephoto zoom", as its range of focal lengths reaches past 70mm.
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Old 09-23-2008   #4
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Default Re: Telephoto vs. Zoom

Technically, a "telephoto" lens is one with a specific type of design that makes it physically shorter than the focal length. A 400mm telephoto might require only 265mm (to pick a number) of extension to focus at infinity. While some lenses for SLRs are telephoto designs, most are not. However, the term is commonly used to describe lenses that are much longer than normal. So, for a 35mm camera (full frame, either film or digi,) lenses longer than 50mm would be considered tele's.

Zoom lenses simply those that can change focal length. The alternative is "fixed" focal length. Many photographers, most of 'em I suppose, usually call fixed focal length lenses "primes" although that is an incorrect usage of the term (or it was when I was a bit younger.) It's so firmly entrenched in the jargon, though, that I guess us old farts are going to have allow the meaning of the term to change.

Zoom lenses can be wide angle, telephoto or both (with normal in the middle somewhere.)
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Old 09-24-2008   #5
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Default Re: Telephoto vs. Zoom

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclohexane View Post
A "telephoto" lens is a lens that offers a fairly tight angle of view, bringing you "closer" to the subject. In 35mm (24x36mm capture area) format terms, 70mm focal length and longer are considered "telephoto". 300mm and over is sometimes referred to as "supertelephoto".

so what is a 1300mm lens?
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Old 09-24-2008   #6
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Default Re: Telephoto vs. Zoom

Quote:
Originally Posted by badpickev View Post
so what is a 1300mm lens?
Most likely an exhaust pipe of an old Russian jet plane and probably with the same optical quality.

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Old 09-24-2008   #7
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Default Re: Telephoto vs. Zoom

Thank you for asking this question - I've had the same one!
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Old 09-25-2008   #8
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Default Re: Telephoto vs. Zoom

I love zoom abilities
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Old 09-26-2008   #9
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Default Re: Telephoto vs. Zoom

Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclohexane View Post
A "telephoto" lens is a lens that offers a fairly tight angle of view, bringing you "closer" to the subject. In 35mm (24x36mm capture area) format terms, 70mm focal length and longer are considered "telephoto". 300mm and over is sometimes referred to as "supertelephoto".
Actually, 50mm in 35 world is considered to give an appearance of a magnification of 1 and FOV similar to the human eye.

Anything smaller than 50mm gives an appearance of a magnification <1 and larger FOV and is therefor consider "wide angle", with anything under 24mm generally considered ultra-wide angle.

Anything larger than 50mm gives an appearance of a magnification >1 and smaller FOV is therefor considered telephoto. If it is more than 300mm, it is considered a super telephoto lens (as you say). If such a lens happens to be a zoom, it is generally referred to as telephoto zoom.

Technically however, there is also what w7apd explained in that there is a specific construction design that's called telephoto.

However, since "telephoto" literally means nothing more than "light from far away", I personally feel both definitions are correct. A visual definition and a technical definition.
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Old 10-06-2008   #10
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Default Re: Telephoto vs. Zoom

Keep in mind that the definition for telephoto is not carved in stone. You will find differences depending on whom you read. Here is the definition I use:

Telephoto Lens—a long focal length lens that makes the subject look larger and closer than it really is. For a 35mm camera, 70mm – 105mm is considered slightly telephoto, 135mm – 300mm is considered telephoto, and 400mm – 2000mm is considered extreme telephoto.



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