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“Get closer to your subject,” is usually a good idea in photography. Normally that’s done by the photographer physically moving himself.
But what if you can’t get your ass close enough? You use a telephoto lens, of course. Don’t feel like getting to within ten feet of that hungry lion in the bush? Don’t think you can manage climbing that snow covered mountain? Why, then just stick that ten thousand dollar 500mm lens on your dSLR and snap away. Capture pimples of flies, pebbles on the moon, that sexy girl in her apartment two miles away…
A wide angle lens stretches out the apparent depth of an image; a telephoto does just the opposite, compressing the elements. A common shot with a telephoto is of the sun over the sea, mountains, forest, etc. The effect, greater the longer the lens, makes the sun seem huge, as ifs its about half a mile behind the foreground.
A wide angle lens has a wide depth of field. I never have to worry much about focus with my 11-18mm lens, the depth of field is virtually the entire photo. A telephoto lens has the opposite “problem”: very narrow depth of field. Focus is critical. Thosee magnificent bird shots so beloved by some photographers must be very carefully focused. Thank God for a precise auto-focusing lens and camera!
500mm lenses are not cheap. A quality 500mm prime runs from $4,500 up. The NikonNikon AFS Nikkor 500MM F/4G ED VR Autofocus is $8,500. Even an off-brand variable zoom lens with a long end of 500mm will costs at least about $1,000. The drawback of the zoom lens is its very slow (f/6.3 or higher) at the long end. An alternative to a standard 500mm lens is a mirror telephoto. These lenses a very slow (f/8) and have contrast and focus limitations. They are, however, quite inexpensive.
Each Flickr photo in the following gallery was taken at 500mm. Some subjects of these shots are what you might expect: animal close ups, for example. Others you find surprising (portraiture). As always, I have strived to include images with originality and superior composition.