5 reasons why you should use a short Telephoto lens

This is a direct reference to an old video, I made 3 years ago about Wide-angle lenses. If you haven’t watched it yet please do so. This is also an answer video to all of you who often ask me why sometimes I use an 85mm or anything between 85 and 200mm instead of using a 50 or less and just move closer to my subject.

Dance photography, 5 reasons why you should go wide!

The 2 images below, were captured with my phone. A really simple demonstration of what anyone can observe at home. The idea was to have for these 2 different shots our main subject occupying the same amount of space and be placed roughly the same in the frame. Do you notice the difference? Of course, you do… I displayed all these different elements in the foreground on purpose so that you can see how different these 2 shots are. The main subject takes almost the same amount of space in the frame in both shots but I am using 2 different focal lengths (26mm And 52mm on my galaxy S9+). Obviously, I had to get closer with the 26mm. By getting closer to your subject you purposely decide to ignore whatever is in the foreground or maybe on the sides. Plus the more you go telephoto the more your background will seem closer to your model.

Samsung Galaxy S9+ at  26mm

Samsung Galaxy S9+ at  52mm

So that is why you cannot take this decision lightly. “So, do I get closer to the model or do I use a longer lens?” This is an artistic decision. Depending on how you are going to compose your image, how you are going to use the environment and how much of the background you want in your image.

Plus don’t forget the distortion you will add to your image when using wide-angle lense. Again watch my previous video on the subject if you haven’t. So here are 5 (obviously there are more) but the 5 main reasons why I choose to use an 85mm or longer lens for some of my images:

1/ 85mm lenses are flattering on a lot of models, it is actually one of my favourite lenses for portraits and sometimes full-body shots. On the GFX I love the 110mm f2. Some models just don’t look good with wide-angle lense, especially when you go wider than 35mm. The wider you go the more careful you have to be with visible distortions and body proportions.

 

Camille Bernard (Paris – France)
Fujifilm GFX100 + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Margaux M. (Bordeaux – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Anaïs Lancry (Bordeaux – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

When your athlete is injured: Crossfit behind the scenes photoshoot

 

 

Jennyfer M. (Toulouse – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Camille Bernard (Toulouse – France)
Fujifilm GFX100 + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

2/ A longer lens will add tension to your images when using lines to guide your viewer’s eyes. Shoot through objects, and use anything in the foreground to better compose your shot. These are more effective with short telephoto lenses. 

Dafné Lugui (Toulouse – France)
Canon EOS 5D mark III + EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM

 

 

Margaux M. (Toulouse – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Fanny George  (Strasbourg – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Helene Bernadou (Bordeaux – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

Fuji GFX50s my thoughts as a Dance/ Circus photographer

 

 

Charlotte Sumian (Paris – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

3/ You decide what to include and what to exclude, you have to know exactly what you are shooting. With a short telephoto lens, you can isolate much more easily your subject. Sometimes having all those elements around you can be overwhelming in your shot, so using a wide-angle lens might not be the best idea. Plus you get that background blur much more easily with a longer lens, for better background seperation.

 

Alice Catonnet (Paris – France)
Fujifilm GFX100 + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

Fujifilm GFX100, Medium format for the mass?

 

 

Marso (Paris – France)
Fujifilm GFX100 + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Jess Prévalet (Paris – France)
Fujifilm GFX100 + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

4/ Not all images are meant to be taken up close. Giving a sense of distance between you and the subject tells a different story! Remember these are tools, it’s a vocabulary for you to use, to express your ideas and creativity.

Camille Bernard (Paris – France)
Fujifilm GFX100 + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Christine Pham (Paris – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Emilie Morier (Montpellier – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

A tailored approach for the right results

 

 

Célie Juston (Grenoble – France)
Canon EOS 5D mark III + EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM

 

 

Charlotte Sumian (Paris – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Manon Vergé (Strasbourg – France)
EOSR + EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM

Complete Gallery of this session: Behind the scenes Fitness photoshoot on location

 

 

Benjamin (Bordeaux – France)
Fujifilm GFX100 + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

5/ I said earlier, sometimes you don’t want everything in your background in your shot. But what if you have an interesting background but far away from your subject? If the element in the back you want to include is close, the wide-angle will do the job. If it’s far, it’s the complete opposite, you will want to use a short telephoto lens to have it closer and visible.

 

Agnès Bodda (Toulouse – France)
Canon EOS 5D mark III + EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM

 

 

Emma La Tordue (Strasbourg – France)
Canon EOS 5D mark III + EF 85mm f2.8L IS II USM

Complete session: Inside the Villa Schutzenberger not another contortion photoshoot

 

 

Marjorie Gollion  (Paris – France)
Fujifilm GFX100 + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

Marie Caroline  (Geneve – France)
Fujifilm GFX50s + GF 110mm f/2 R LM WR

 

 

So think twice before zooming with your feet. Maybe the 135mm or 85mm you have in your hands better suits your needs for the image you wish to create. You also have to consider your personal tastes too. This is different for everybody, there are no rules. It’s up to you to build your own vocabulary and write your own stories. Try to get your hands on as many different lenses that you can… try them and decide for yourself.

What is your favourite short telephoto lens? For the GFX line, the 110mm f2 is my personal favorite for now and on Canon bodies, I Love the 85mm f1.2L lens. Hope you are all safe and in good health. Please be careful, and in these difficult times let’s all be positive and support one another. Take care!

5 reasons why you should use a short Telephoto lenshazekware
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One comment on "5 reasons why you should use a short Telephoto lens"

  1. Raymond Firer on

    Firstly, I assume that you are giving the lens focal lengths relative to a 24 X 36mm sensor. (standard 35mm frame size.)

    If so, then I have long preferred the 85mm lens for portraits, but used a 135mm lens for several of my full length shots.

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