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Difference Between Wide Angle and Telephoto Lens

Wide Angle vs Telephoto Lens

The rising popularity and falling cost of DSLR cameras has encouraged many to actually go for it rather than the usual point and shoot cameras. But along with DSLRs, comes the confusing lens choices. Two types of lenses that most people encounter are wide angle and telephoto lenses. The main difference between the two is the focal lengths that they have. Wide angle lenses have short focal lengths (i.e. 18mm) while telephoto lenses have longer focal lengths (i.e. 200mm). Focal length is an important aspect of optics that dictates how much of a view the camera sensor actually gets.

In common usage, a wide angle lens is meant for capturing landscape shots where you want to get as much of the environment as possible. In contrast telephoto lenses are good for capturing just a small portion of what you see but at a much higher magnification. This is used by animal and sports photographers as it allows them to shoot a wild animal or a player in the middle of the field at a great distance.

Because of the much larger focal lengths of telephoto lenses, they are typically longer than wide angle lenses. To make them shorter than they have to be, multiple lens elements are employed; this also adds to the weight of the lens, which can be quite a burden when you hold your camera for long periods of time. Telephoto lenses often tend to be more expensive than wide angle lenses. This is also because of the additional glass lens elements that are fit inside.

Whether you use wide angle or telephoto lenses is down to what you want or need in your photo. If you want to shoot large groups of people, you’d probably need a wide angle lens. For bird watching, telephoto lenses allow you to get close-up photos without actually being near your subject. Lenses that are capable of acting as a telephoto or wide angle lens are also quite common. Kit lenses, which are typically 18mm-55mm, are a good example of this. There are also other lenses with greater range, like 18mm-200mm.


1.Wide angle lenses have short focal lengths while telephoto lenses have long focal lengths
2.Wide angle lenses are good for landscape shots while telephoto lenses are good for distant shots
3.Telephoto lenses tend to be larger and heavier than wide angle lenses
4.Telephoto lenses are typically more expensive than wide angle lenses

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