What is a Telephoto Lens?

Written by 90 Seconds
Last updated: October 4, 2023
What is a Telephoto Lens?

When it comes to video production, the key to making a quality video is to employ the proper equipment.

There is a wide selection on the market and this can make almost every shot look like gold with the proper equipment and technique.

One of the common devices that people hear about but never truly understand is the telephoto lens. For most video producers, they say that the telephoto lens is used to “bring things far away to a closer position”.

While this is certainly true, why don’t video producers just get closer? This is because telephoto lenses have an additional purpose.

In addition to “bringing things closer”, they also have a longer scope that acts to place the background out of focus when used properly.

This means that the shot can be focused on the part of the scene that matters most by blurring the scenery around it. Check out some of the purposes of this unique tool below.

Put the background out of focus

As stated before, a telephoto lens is used to put a background out of focus. This can be important for certain video shots because it might be a busy scene where the producer wants the shot focused on the main character.

The telephoto lens will focus the shot on the character and the long scope will blur anything that isn’t at the same distance away as the character. This is useful for driving a scene.

Change the perspective of the picture

While the telephoto lens can certainly place the focus on a point while blurring everything else, the same shot can actually change the perspective during the process.

Producers can use a telephoto lens to drive the focus in and out on certain points of the shot during the scene. This is great for driving the eyes of the audience while the telephoto lens focuses on different points in the scene.

To use a telephoto lens to create these shots, people simply need to change the aperture.

Larger aperture

This is the aperture that video producers should select to blur the background; however, if the aperture is too large, the background might blur too much.

If this aperture is necessary, people can use a tool called an f-stop to bring the necessary focus to the scene. A larger aperture will blur the background.

Smaller aperture

A smaller aperture will not blur the background as much; however, this does come with its own set of challenges.

A smaller aperture will often require a higher shutter speed. This can cause the camera to shake in the hands of someone who isn’t used to filming. Using a tripod is an easy way to remedy this problem.