What's the difference between...

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by G. Ike, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. G. Ike

    G. Ike TPF Noob!

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    ... a zoom lens and a telephoto lens? I always thought they were one in the same, but Canon's website sells telephoto lenses and zoom telephoto lenses. Wikipedia didn't really clear anything up for me. So, what is the difference between a zoom lens and a telephoto lens? Thanks alot :)
     
  2. beaminge36

    beaminge36 TPF Noob!

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    Telephoto means that the lens has a high magnification. Ex. a 200mm lens can fit an object in the frame from far away. A telephoto lens is generally a prime or fixed focal length lens such as the 200mm f/2.0.
    A zoom lens has a variable focal length such as 18-55mm or 70-200mm. A zoom lens means it can go from a wider focal range to a narrower focal range thus "zooming" in.
    Anything over say 60mm i believe is considered to be telephoto and the 300mm+ are considered super telephoto.
    A zoom lens can be a wide zoom such as the 10-20mm or 16-35mm but can also be a telephoto zoom lens like the 70-200mm or 100-400mm.

    I hope this isn't too confusing and helps you to understand.

    Nick
     
  3. G. Ike

    G. Ike TPF Noob!

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    So from what I gather, a telephoto lens just has a larger focal length than a wide angle lens, regardless of whether that lens is fixed or has variable focal lengths. Thanks alot!
     
  4. beaminge36

    beaminge36 TPF Noob!

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    Yup. You got it.

    Nick
     
  5. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    not really larger, just longer. i've seen 200mm lenses that are dwarfed by an 18mm lens, and it's more abotu angle of view and compressing space than bringing something "closer".
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    A zoom lens is a lens with a variable focal length. A lens with a fixed focal length is called a prime lens.

    The proper use of the term telephoto lens is to describe a lens with a longer effective focal length than it's actual focal length, but people have come to use the term to describe any lens with a longer than normal focal length. They can be zoom or prime.
     
  7. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    A little slip? "a longer focal length than its actual length" surely (in layman's terms).

    Best,
    Helen

    Edit: Here's a recent thread on a similar subject: link.
     
  8. TUX424

    TUX424 TPF Noob!

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    Then there are also primes which do not have a ajustable focal length ex. 200 ƒ/2.0 would be a telephoto prime
    prime are usally cheaper because more of the glass inside of the lens isn't moving
    correct me if im wrong
     
  9. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    :scratch:. By definition, the focal length of a prime lens is NOT 'adjustable'.
     
  10. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    Some do it secretly. All of Nikon's current line of 'prime' macro ("Micro") lenses change their focal length as they focus, for example. That's partly how they achieve 1:1 without excessive extension.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  11. beaminge36

    beaminge36 TPF Noob!

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    In theory, yes. An equal quality prime should be cheaper then an equal quality zoom. But for example, the L prime lens at 200mm f/2.0L is $5,300 where the L zoom equivalent is the 70-200mm f/2.8L which is only (relative, of course) $1700. Same with the L normal lenses. The 50mm f/1.2L is around 1700 where as the 24-70 f/2.8L is around 1200. The primes are much faster lenses but are the only equivalent primes in the L series of lenses.
    Your statement has truth when you compare say the EF-S 18-55 f3.5-5.6 which is 160 vs the 50mm f/1.8 which is like $100.
    The lens still does move when it focuses. On some lenses the movement is contained inside the barrel and isn't apparent on the exterior.
     

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