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Mock26
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 19:22
OK, I'm sure this has been covered before, so please forgive me. I am very new to photography and just learning the basics at the moment. One thing that I am having trouble understanding is the difference between a telephoto and a zoom lens. I have looked in several books, and searched online, and no one really ever does a direct comparison between the two. So, can someone explain to me, in terms as non-techinical as possible, what the difference between a telephoto and a zoom lens is? I know that some technical terms have to be used, but as simple as possible would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much. Take care and have a great day....

ciao,
john.

Eric DeCastro
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 19:27
telephoto is longer then a standard and is only one focal length.

and zoom is a range of focal lengths. like 20-200 is a wide to telephoto zoom.

http://www.dpreview.com/learn/?/Glossary/Optical/Focal_Length_01.htm

Belmondo
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 19:30
A zoom lens is one that gives you a range of focal lengths. For example, a 28-135 zoom lens allows you shoot anywhere from slightly wide angle (28mm) to slightly telephoto (135mm), and anything in between.

Understand that in 35mm terms, 50mm is considered generally 'normal'---the focallength that most closely sees things as we do. Anything less than that is considered wide angle, and anything greater than that is telephoto.

So 'zoom' versus 'telephoto' is really an apples and oranges comparison. Zoom describes a lens with a range of focal lengths, and telephoto refers to lenses generally longer than 50mm.

It's possible to have a wide angle zoom, a zoom that ranges from wide angle to telephoto, or a telephoto-only zoom.

Eric DeCastro
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 19:34
So 'zoom' versus 'telephoto' is really an apples and oranges comparison.

maybe that's why he asked for the differences. meaning if one is apple and one is orange, what is different. I'm sure he knew that they were different before asking.

Mock26
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 19:35
telephoto is longer then a standard and is only one focal length.

and zoom is a range of focal lengths. like 20-200 is a wide to telephoto zoom.

OK, now I feel like a total idiot. The difference is that simple? I'm not doubting you, Eric, but this is one of those situations where I was trying to read way too much into the information that was being provided. I wonder how many other people tried to read too much into this? And don't worry, you didn't make me feel like an idiot. I made myself feel like an idiot. I have read the same thing countless times, but I never read it side by side like that.

Thank you very much for answering the question for me. I greatly appreciate your help (even if it does make me a bit embarassed for having asked it!:D ).

Take care and have a great day....



ciao,
john.

Eric DeCastro
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 19:39
OK, now I feel like a total idiot. The difference is that simple? I'm not doubting you, Eric, but this is one of those situations where I was trying to read way too much into the information that was being provided. I wonder how many other people tried to read too much into this?

Thank you very much for answering the question for me. I greatly appreciate your help (even if it does make me a bit embarassed for having asked it!:D ).

Take care and have a great day....



ciao,
john.

no need to be embarassed. at one point in time, i didn't know either. but since I took photography in highschool (just because it was an easy class and I could leave the classroom to take pictures for the period) I learned there. so don't be embarassed. =)
happy shooting.

Belmondo
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 19:55
By the way, a term you'll see thrown around a lot is prime. That's just another term for a lens of a fixed focal length. After a while, you'll pick up the same verbal shorthand we all use here.

Also, remember this: No question is dumb until it's asked for the second time. None of us were born knowing all this.

Monito
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 20:01
Another important factor is that a fixed focal length lens typically has a wider maximum aperture than a zoom lens. Just as important if not more important is that a fixed focal length lens can be optimized for that focal length, but a zoom must compromise over a range of focal lengths, so the zoom will not be as sharp.

On the other hand, a zoom can get you precise framing when you can't move to a position that a fixed focal length would require, such as shooting across a canal. And with the range of the zoom, you are less likely to miss a shot while changing lenses. But bear in mind that the wider the range, the more compromises that have to be made optically.

phili1
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 20:47
Telephoto - Long range lens - of 1 focal lenght (Prime) such as 100mm - 200mm -300mm - 400mm - 500mm - 600mm-800mm-1200mm What they do is bring that which is distent closer filling up your negative if you use film and sensor if you are digital. A fixed lens only covers one range.

Zoom - Vesatile - some zooms are in small range optics, such as 17 to 35mm - 28 to 75mm. They produce a wide range of focal lengths but from wide angle to small telelphoto range.

Zoom - telelephoto range - most common 28 to 200 - 28 to 300 Walk around lenses ( not very Sharp)- 70 to 200 a moderate telephoto lens - 100 to 300 - 100 to 400 - 50 to 500 - 200 -500 - 200-400 are in the long range telephoto and the most common for sports and birding - Then you have the super zooms which are only made by Sigma and that is 300 to 800.

What zooms do is give you the convience of walking around with one lens that gives you the optical range of several. Example. if your walking thru the woods and come across a deer and you have a 400mm lens and your to close you can not get a picture, but if you have a 100 to 400mm zoom you can zoom out and get the shot. It is a great feature but comes with some buts. Today zooms can give you a very sharp picture but a prime can give you an ultra sharp picture,

Now with that said I have 2 zooms a 70 - 200L and a 100-400L and if there was a 400 to 500 mm prime I could afford, I would probobly own one right now. So in this mix of lenses comes one other factor and why allot of people own zooms and that is cost. A zoom cost allot less then a prime. Example Canons 100-400 L zoom is $1400, there 300 F 2.6 L is $3800 - 500 F4L $5800 & 600 F4L $7200.

Hoope this helps you in your decission.

CyberDyneSystems
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 22:18
telephoto is longer then a standard and is only one focal length.

and zoom is a range of focal lengths.

Actually,. this is not 100% correct either.

Telephoto,. as Belmondo says above,. just means a longer focal length than Normal.

Telephoto can be a Prime (only one focal length) or telephoto can be a zoom.
(like 70-200mm zoom, 100-400mm zoom etc..)

Eric DeCastro
26th of January 2005 (Wed), 22:55
telephoto can be a zoom.
(like 70-200mm zoom, 100-400mm zoom etc..)

prove it. everywhere I have see 70-200 it was called a tele zoom. not that I don' believe you but I have been doing this awhile and never heard of a telephoto zoom being reffered to as a telephoto lens.

edit: here is my proof enough for me. thanks for the correction.

http://photography.about.com/od/basics/a/bptelephoto.htm

Jon
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 09:09
Yes, what it boils down to is "zoom" or "prime" modifies "telephoto" or "wide angle"; they refer to different properties of the lens. To describe a lens more completely you'd need to call it a "prime telephoto" or "zoom telephoto"

Jim_T
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 10:17
I think the most important thing to realize is that ZOOM does not refer to the 'power' of a lens.

It's a verb that describes to the apparent motion you see in the viewfinder as the focal length is changed. The term actually came from the movie industry where this motion provides a distinct effect.

If you look through a lens as you increase the focal length, the subject 'zooms' towards you.

But inversely, if you look through the lens as you decrease the focal length, the subject 'zooms' away from you.

Suppose you wanted to track a race car travelling rapidly towards you.. To keep the subject fitting within the viewfinder, you have to zoom OUT as it approaches. At this instant, the only value of your zoom lens is that it can make things smaller, not larger.

Obvously, you can only introduce this 'to' and 'from' motion with a variable focal length lens. The zooming ability is calculated by dividing the maximum focal length by the minimum focal length. So a 100-400mm lens would have 400/100 = 4X zoom.

Going a bit further, lets consider the Canon EF-1200 f/5.6L lens.. This monster is a formidable telephoto lens, but what zoom does it have ? Lets use the maximum divided by minimum focal length formula.. The maximum focal length is 1200.. but the minimum is 1200 as well..

So: 1200 / 1200 = 1X.

All fixed lenses have a zoom of 1X... Or in other words.. No zoom.

As far as telephoto lenses.. As you get over the standard lens (50mm) you begin to move to the telephoto range. If you look on the Canon EF lens page, you'll see how they group mild telephoto, telephoto, and super telephoto lenses.. Note... NON of the fixed telephoto lenses are described as zoom lenses. (becuse they have no zoom).. Only the variable focal length lenses have the zoom designation.

http://www.usa.canon.com/html/eflenses/lineup/

CyberDyneSystems
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 10:27
prove it. everywhere I have see 70-200 it was called a tele zoom. not that I don' believe you but I have been doing this awhile and never heard of a telephoto zoom being reffered to as a telephoto lens.

edit: here is my proof enough for me. thanks for the correction.

http://photography.about.com/od/basics/a/bptelephoto.htm

I'm not at all sure where the hostility towards both myself and Belmondo's replies in this thread is coming from Eric,. ?

But since you ask,.

http://consumer.usa.canon.com/ir/controller?act=ProductCatIndexAct&fcategoryid=150

Canon has allways referred to thier Telephoto Zooms as just that,. Telephoto Zooms,. note this term is only applied to thier lenses who's entire zoom range falls into the telephoto catagory (ie longer than 50mm)

Again,. the term Telephoto has nothing to do with whether a lens is fixed focal length or adjustable,. it means a smaller field of view and longer focal length than "normal".

Jim_T
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 10:36
Canon has allways referred to there Telephoto Zooms as just that,. Telephoto Zooms,.



Yes.. For sure :)

http://www.usa.canon.com/html/eflenses/lineup/telephotozoom/index.html

[/QUOTE]

slejhamer
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 10:39
But their "telephoto" lenses are all primes. http://www.usa.canon.com/html/eflenses/lineup/telephoto/index.html

:confused by who is saying what to whom:

Jim_T
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 10:56
Yes.. But a telephoto zoom is a telephoto lens you can zoom.. No ?

I think it's going to an extreme stating that a lens absolutely cannot be called a telephoto lens under any circumstances because it has a variable focal length.

slejhamer
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 11:00
I think the most important thing to realize is that ZOOM does not refer to the 'power' of a lens.



LOL - Ni*on calls theirs "High Power Zooms"

http://www.nikonusa.com/template.php?cat=1&grp=5

:ducks for cover:

Jon
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 11:00
prove it. everywhere I have see 70-200 it was called a tele zoom. not that I don' believe you but I have been doing this awhile and never heard of a telephoto zoom being reffered to as a telephoto lens.

edit: here is my proof enough for me. thanks for the correction.

http://photography.about.com/od/basics/a/bptelephoto.htm

Guys, I think he's convinced now (color added).

Eric DeCastro
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 16:45
Guys, I think he's convinced now (color added).

I was convinced 17 hours ago. look when it was edited.

Eric DeCastro
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 16:48
I'm not at all sure where the hostility towards both myself and Belmondo's replies in this thread is coming from Eric,. ?



how do you figure i was getting hositle? how is it even possible to become or read someones hostility over the internet. I left it up to show I made a mistake. its obvious that you didn't read the whole post. i know when I'm wrong. I just never seen a telephoto reffered to as a zoom unless its called a telephoto-zoom. i never cared too much to look into it.

so I'm saiying it again, I was wrong.

queenbee288
27th of January 2005 (Thu), 17:02
oooh mock you really stirred up a little debate didn't you. Thank you for being brave enough to ask that "stupid" question. I am a newbie just starting to figure out lenses and I learned a lot from this thread. Thanks guys!
Char

phili1
28th of January 2005 (Fri), 06:29
The definition of a telephoto lens is one that pulls the distent object in closer, it changes the perception of a photograph. It can be a prime or it can be a zoom.

In the past a light telephoto lens was designated as 135mm to super 1200mm., and it does not make a difference weather it is prime or zoom.

The manufactures have used the term telephoto loosly. Example a 28 to 300mm lens by Camera Stores & Mfg are called tele zoom, when they should be called variable zooms.

70-200 , 50 to 500 & 100-400 lens fall into this catagory as well they vary into the telephoto area.

But industry changed this and they are now considered telephoto zooms.

So to recap: a prime is of single focal length./a zoom is of multiple focal length's/and a telephoto starts at 100mm on up and it does not matter if it is a prime or a zoom, it is a telephoto lens.

That is the answer a 400mm lens is telephoto weather you have a prime or it is on a zoom.

Jon
31st of January 2005 (Mon), 09:40
I was convinced 17 hours ago. look when it was edited.

That's what I was referring to . . .

Jon
31st of January 2005 (Mon), 09:51
The definition of a telephoto lens is one that pulls the distent object in closer, it changes the perception of a photograph. It can be a prime or it can be a zoom.

In the past a light telephoto lens was designated as 135mm to super 1200mm., and it does not make a difference weather it is prime or zoom.

Strictly speaking, a telephoto lens is one which, through appropriate use of converging and diverging lenses, has an effective focal length longer than its actual length. It is therefore

the antonym of a retrofocus lens
a subset of the long focus lens category (anything longer than "normal" for a given format)
For the rest of this post I'll use "telephoto" in the canonical sense of "longer than normal focal length".

The manufactures have used the term telephoto loosly. Example a 28 to 300mm lens by Camera Stores & Mfg are called tele zoom, when they should be called variable zooms.

Calling any zoom a "variable zoom" is redundant. Lenses spanning several "ranges" are properly referred to as "wide to telephoto zooms" or "normal to telephoto zooms" as appropriate.

70-200 , 50 to 500 & 100-400 lens fall into this catagory as well they vary into the telephoto area.

But industry changed this and they are now considered telephoto zooms.

So to recap: a prime is of single focal length./a zoom is of multiple focal length's/and a telephoto starts at 100mm on up and it does not matter if it is a prime or a zoom, it is a telephoto lens.

That is the answer a 400mm lens is telephoto weather you have a prime or it is on a zoom.

Even in 35 mm, a 70 mm focal length has consistently been considered a mild telephoto lens, not a normal. It's only when you move up into the 2-1/4 range that 70 mm qualifies as "normal" or "wide". For the 1.6x crop factor, a 50 mm also falls into the telephoto range (using the "standard" definition of "normal focal length" as equal to the diagonal measure of the format, 50 mm. is still long on full-frame 35 mm).