What To Capture With Longer Focal Lengths

Here are a few tips on how and why you should use a longer lens.

09/11/2012 - 00:00

As Pentax User has a Pentax VS20 compact camera, with a 20x optical zoom, up for grabs in the latest Pentax User Plus Competition we thought we'd list a few tips on how to use and what to shoot with longer lenses.

We'll start with an obvious but useful aspect of a longer lens and that's its ability to bring far subjects closer to you. If you're lucky to win the VS20 in our competition your lens will extend past the 20x zoom mark to 144x with its 'smart zoom' function, getting you even closer to subjects that are out of reach.

Hall
Above: The longer reach of the VS20 in action.

Subjects that have quite a bit of distance between them can appear as if they are closer together while the ability to 'pull' objects closer to you means frame-filling shots of far away subjects are easier to capture. If you want to pin-point a particular aspect in a landscape that a wide-lens would miss, a longer focal length will make it much easier to isolate a tree, house or whatever interesting subject you've found.

When it comes to photographing wildlife or people a longer focal length will mean you can still capture frame-filling shots without getting too close to your subject. This will stop shy animals from darting and will make your model more comfortable when photographing them. Backgrounds are more easily thrown out of focus with longer lenses, meaning all attention will fall on your subject and viewers won't be distracted by what's in the background. This doesn't mean you don't have to worry about it though as strong highlights will still distract even when thrown out of focus.

Portrait
Above: Portrait taken with the VS20.

Longer lenses are also useful for days at the track as most of the time you won't be able to get particularly close to the action. You'll also need a longer focal length if you plan on having a go at moon photography. The 20x zoom on the Pentax VS20 probably isn't long enough to capture great frame-filling shots of the moon but when it's at its closest point to the earth, it'll be easier to get a decent shot. As well as a long lens you'll also need a support, clear skies and good weather.


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I think an example portrait with a non distracting out of focus background would compliment the review well.
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