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A telephoto lens is a long-focus camera lens that captures distant and moving images. It mostly comes with a focal length between 70mm – 700mm. Like every other camera lens, it is attached to the body of a camera to capture and record video footage.

What is a telephoto lens used for?

To be clear, videographers can use different lenses to shoot a video. Videographers can also use a telephoto lens in photography and videography. However, videographers opt for a telephoto lens to capture and present distant objects in footage without losing the details in the environment (1). But what is a telephoto lens used for:

  • Compression

A telephoto lens compresses the distance between a subject and its environment. It also makes the subject appear closer to the camera than it is. This comes in handy when videographers cannot or do not want to get too close to the subject. 

Imagine capturing wildlife events from across the lake, cool right?

  • Good composition

Most beginners are guilty of trying to fit all the background details into a video frame. Except you have mastered the techniques, this does not come out well most times. 

Telephoto lenses force you to selectively pick the most interesting details into the video frame.

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The telephoto lens helps beginners achieve better videography.

  • Light 

What if you need to shoot a video in harsh midday sunlight? Telephoto lenses turn harsh light to daylight (2). With most camera lenses, the harsh weather condition reflects in the story. 

With Telephoto lenses, you get nearly perfect footage because the longer the focal length, the less likely light pops into the camera sensor.

Also read: What is an Anamorphic Lens

Different Types of Camera Lenses

What is a telephoto lens good for?

Having answered our “what is telephoto lens?” question, let’s tackle what exactly this type of lens is good for. 

Here are different fields videographers use telephoto lenses:

  • Wildlife documentary

Telephoto Lens is mostly beneficial in recording wildlife documentaries since videographers might not be able to get so close to animals. The enlarging ability of the focal length pulls in the environment and the subject to provide a shorter frame in the footage.

  • Sport videography

Telephoto lenses help videographers zoom in on distant and fast-moving subjects. Most telephoto lenses have built-in stabilization to prevent camera shake and enhance quick focus to produce sharp and colorful video with a good background.

  • Portraits, weddings and other events

Telephoto lenses complement events by making the subjects in the frame look proportional to the background, thus creating a nice blend of images.

Also read: What is an Art Lens?

F. A. Q

It depends on the videographer’s needs. Macro lenses are more particular about showing subject details in each video frame, while telephoto lenses are better used to cover subjects across a long distance.

Telephoto lenses offer a wide range of advantages to a videographer. From compression, to reduction of light, to excellent portrait videography, telephoto lenses come in quite handy in videography.


This article has answered the question, ‘what is a telephoto lens?’ and why every videographer may need one. Especially if you’re into sports or wildlife videography, telephoto lenses are a must-have.

What do you think about telephoto lenses? Is it useful for videography? Drop a comment in the section below.


  1. Clifford, G. C. (2021). 12 Best Lenses for Wildlife Photography (2022). Retrieved from
  2. Popsys, James (2018). Do you NEED a TELEPHOTO LENS? Retrieved from