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telephoto vs telephoto zoom

Mohamed Khatib , Apr 23, 2010; 02:46 a.m.

Hi Guyz,

I am a beginner and i am stuck up with the difference between a telephoto and telephoto zoom lens.

The only difference i know is that telephoto has a single focal length and telephoto has a range of focal length.

So what is the advantage of buying a lens with single focal length? It is a better deal to go for a lens with a range of focal lengths.

Eg. In canon lenses, EF 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 IS USM is a better deal than EF 300mm f4L IS USM....coz the former gives a range till 300mm wheras the latter gives only a focal length of 300mm.

Also i want to know the difference between f4.5-5.6 and f4L?

Thank you in advance
Mohamed

Responses

Philip Tam , Apr 23, 2010; 05:01 a.m.

Single focal length lenses tend to producer sharper, less distorted images. They may have larger aperture abilities. In the two lenses you talked about for example, the zoom lens has a f/5.6 aperture when you zoom out to 300mm. The fixed 300mm lens can obviously do f/4, one stop better, at this focal length.

The "L" in f/4L is Canon's way of designating it as a high quality lens. This does not mean however, that the 70-300mm is a bad lens. In fact, generally speaking, for most people, it's the better choice since it's more versatile. A telephoto prime (fixed lens) at that focal length is really only useful in a narrow set of circumstances, in my opinion.

Bueh B. , Apr 23, 2010; 07:29 a.m.

So what is the advantage of buying a lens with single focal length?

In all regards prime lenses are better than zoom lenses. The only drawback is that you cannot change the field-of-view and perspective. Everything else is usually better -- optical quality, weight, price, speed etc..

Hugo Poon , Apr 23, 2010; 08:41 a.m.

In your case, the price difference of the zoom vs prime is because the 300 f4L is an L lens — professional build quality, weather sealed (dust, rain etc) and very high quality glass.
I believe the zoom is cheaper mainly due to build quality.

Given the choice, I always go with a prime for quality and weight…unless I could choose the Sigma 200-500 2.8 ^^ (of course, there is always Canon's 300 2.8L, which is big, heavy and amazing (tried it once)).
Also, remember that any prime becomes a zoom once you get your feet working. Not always the easiest though.

Mike Hitchen , Apr 23, 2010; 08:48 a.m.

i am stuck up with the difference between a telephoto and telephoto zoom lens

it is all an arbitrary names but 'Normal' lenses are those that give apprximately the same field of view as the human eye. That is, a 40mm-50mm lens on a camera with a 35mm sensor (such as the Canon 1 series or 5D) and 24mm to 30mm on a APS-C camera such as the Rebel series, 7D etc. 'Telephoto' lenses are generally longer than that (100mm plus); 'wide angle' lenses are shorter than that.

telephoto has a single focal length and telephoto [zoom] has a range of focal length

Correct
When making a zoom, compromises have to be made in the design because it is very difficult to have equal image quality at both ends of the zoom range. With a prime, all the research and manufacture goes ito its performance at one setting so generally the quality is better. Primes are also often lighter amd smaller. So for instance, somone needing a telephoto for shooting wildlife may choose the 100-400 zoom, others may prefer the better image quality of the 300mm prime and accept that they have to crop the image. But the lens is lighter.
Whether the image quality differences of a prime over a zoom are worthwhile is a very personal choice.

Eg. In canon lenses, EF 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 IS USM is a better deal than EF 300mm f4L IS USM....coz the former gives a range till 300mm wheras the latter gives only a focal length of 300mm.

Is the Ferrari or a GM saloon the better deal?
If you can't afford the 300mm, the zoom (t one third of the price) is the 'better deal'. If you are shooting people/animals that move the zoom may be better despite any limitations on quality. If you buy the 300mm prime and only use it to shoot animals on your annual holidays, the definition of 'better deal' is up to you.

Also i want to know the difference between f4.5-5.6 and f4L?

This means that at its shortest focal length (70mm) the lens has a minimum aperture of 4.5 but at its longest focal length (300mm) it has a minimum aperture of 5.6 and this means you may be limited when using the lens in poor light, or if you want a wide aperture for small depth of field. They do make constant aperture zoom lenses but these are much more expensive - sometimes prohibitively so.

Craig Cooper , Apr 23, 2010; 09:25 a.m.

Be aware that the definition of "telephoto" is lost in this discussion. A telephoto lens can be any lens, typical a long focal length, that contains a grouping of "telephoto elements". The end result is a lens such that the physical length of the lens is shorter than its focal length, and its optical centre exists outside the dimensions of the lens. That is, a long focal length lens is not necessarily telephoto.

Craig Shearman , Apr 23, 2010; 12:50 p.m.

Mohamed, you also need to be aware that not all zooms are telephoto. A zoom lens is any lens with a variable focal length and can be in the telephoto range but also the wide angle or normal range. Typical zooms are 17-35mm wide angle, 24-70 wide-to-normal, 70-200 or 80-200 telephoto. The primary advantages of zooms include being able to change focal length quickly, not carry as many lenses, general convenience and lower cost compared with buying individual lenses for all of the focal lengths covered. Disadvantages are that a zoom is larger and heavier than any one of the lenses in its range, usually has a slower maximum f-stop and usually isn't as sharp.

Mohamed Khatib , Apr 26, 2010; 02:40 a.m.

Thank you all for ur responses.....really helped a lot

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