Telephoto Lens vs Standard Lens | Ultimate Comparison in 2023

Welcome to Camlense. I am Mehmood, the founder, and publisher of this site, and today we will talk about Telephoto Lenses vs Standard Lenses and their advantages and differences. Picking the perfect lens is key for photographers as it will have a direct effect on the photos. The two top picks here are telephoto and standard lenses.

Today we will be talking about the features of telephoto and standard lenses and will compare their uses and features to make a complete in-depth review post “Telephoto Lens vs Standard Lens”.

So, today we will discuss wide-angle vs telephoto lenses. We will discuss their strengths and weaknesses, my personal type of favorite lens and all that coming up right now.

Difference Between Telephoto Lens and Standard Lens

So, what’s the difference between a standard wide-angle lens and a telephoto lens? Basically, a wide-angle lens is wide. If you know about lenses, you will know that the focal length is measured in millimeters. The standard lenses or you can say wide-angle lenses are the widest and have small focal lengths like 17mm or 24mm.

The 17mm lens is going to be very wide and very zoomed out. The 300mm is going to be very zoomed-in. I could stand 300 meters away from somebody and get a picture of their face because it’s a very zoomed-in lens. Now, whether you use a wide-angle lens or a zoom lens, it depends on what you’re shooting.

Telephoto Lens

A telephoto lens is a superzoom for your camera. It lets you get up close and personal with distant subjects, with a focal length longer than 70mm. Telephoto lenses are amazing because they can capture faraway details in great clarity, perfect for wildlife, sports, and portrait photography.

Extended Focal Length

Telephoto lenses have serious reach! With their longer focal lengths, you can snap shots of faraway subjects without sacrificing picture quality. Say goodbye to blurry or grainy shots of your favorite birds or athletes – telephoto lenses have got you covered.

Magnification and Compression Effects

Telephoto lenses magnify distant subjects, making them appear closer and larger in the frame. Additionally, they compress the perspective, giving a unique visual effect.

Narrower Field of View

Telephoto lenses have a narrower field of view, allowing you to isolate specific subjects or details without capturing unnecessary elements in the frame.

Enhanced Background Isolation

Due to their narrower depth of field, telephoto lenses create a beautiful background blur (bokeh), effectively separating the subject from the surroundings.

Advantages of Telephoto Lens

A telephoto lens has many advantages. A telephoto lens lets you compress the perspective and squeeze everything together and it feels like the background and foreground are crushed together.

The minimal and abstract composition you get with a telephoto lens is much more soothing. Unlike a wide-angle lens, the telephoto lens doesn’t capture the whole scene like wide-angle ones but instead removes everything that is not important.

The scenes are composed and minimized, and only important objects are focused. For instance, you can look at the pictures below, one was taken with a wide-angle lens, while the other one was taken with a telephoto lens.

These lenses are used particularly for sports or portraits when you’re trying to get a shot of a football player or if you’re outside an event to try to get a close up etc.

The pictures taken with the telephoto lenses are nicer. Everything has a nicer feeling to it. That’s because when you are zooming in, it compresses the image. It takes the entire image and pushes it together as if the background is being squeezed together with the foreground and compressing the entire image.

This will make anything that’s close to your camera look much more flat, unlike the standard lenses which feel like you are poking the camera in the lens. For most things, it can tend to look a lot more flattering and especially when it comes to human faces, the telephoto is the best lens for it.

Disadvantages of Telephoto Lens

You cannot get the whole scene into the frame like a wide-angle lens. If you want to fit the whole family into the frame, I don’t think that a telephoto will do the job for you.

Standard Lens

A standard lens, also known as a normal lens, closely replicates the human eye’s perspective. Key features and benefits of standard lenses include:

Natural Perspective

Standard lenses provide a field of view similar to the human eye. They offer a field of view that closely matches what the human eye sees, resulting in pictures that look just like real life – no crazy distortions or weird magnifications. It’s like having your own personal photo time machine!

Versatility and Convenience

Standard lenses are versatile lenses that are perfect for all kinds of photography such as landscapes, street photography, or even portrait. These lenses can be considered an all-in-one solution for most of the scenarios. No matter what you’re capturing, standard lenses have got you covered!

Wider Field of View

Standard lens lets you broaden your horizons. Unlike telephoto lenses, standard lenses don’t zoom much, but with these lenses, you can get a wider field of view. This means you can capture more of what’s happening around you.

Ideal for Everyday Photography

Standard lenses are a perfect choice for everyday casual photography. These lenses are lightweight, compact, and versatile and can handle any situation. Whether you’re capturing life moments or embarking on a new photographic adventure, this all-purpose lens has got you covered.

Advantages of Standard Lens

The thing about the standard wide-angle lenses is that it allows you to capture wide-angle images. The images are so zoomed out that you can fit almost everything in the shot.

Another strength of the standard lens is that everything will look smoother because you are zoomed out. If you’re really zoomed in on something from far, you can get jitters and bumps which can be really noticeable. Walking around with a 17mm or 24mm, everything looks much smoother because there is so much more image to work with.

So, anyone who is starting with gimbal work, a stabilizer, or using a wide-angle lens is definitely a good place to start when you’re just learning. So, it’s worth it to buy a wide-angle lens for your photography gear according to my opinion.

Disadvantages of Standard Lens

For me, the biggest drawback of the standard wide-angle lens is that when you’re zoomed out, everything appears to be much closer to the camera than it really is.

For instance, let’s say I am using a lens at 17mm walking around, trying to film shots of something and I stand 3 feet away from something, it can feel like it’s almost hitting me in the face. You’re trying to film a shot of somebody’s face with a 17mm, you’re feeling like you get poked in the face by his nose because you are so zoomed out.

So, if you ask me to look really good using a zoomed-out lens right in front of it, that isn’t going to be the best choice.

The 2nd main drawback of wide-angle lenses is distortion. Some wide-angle lenses especially the cheaper ones tend to start distorting the image after you really far out. Everything looks weird and kind of trippy and it’s just odd looking when you get to a certain focal length.

Telephoto Vs Standard Lens | Which One is Better?

Most people think that the wide-angle lens is more useful because obviously they are going to be using it more to get wide-angle shots and while most of that part is true, that does not mean that a wide-angle lens is best for everything.

Let’s say, I was going outside to film the front of my house. Most likely, I wouldn’t wanna use a telephoto lens or a zoomed-in lens for that. If I have a wide-angle lens, I can easily fit the whole front of my home in the picture without going too far away. It’s that easy.

Yes! I wanna buy a wide-angle lens. That is the reaction of most people. Yeah! Everybody should own one or two standard lenses, but there are some drawbacks of wide-angle lenses which we discussed before.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which lens is better for portrait photography?

Telephoto and standard lenses both work, but it depends on your desired effect. Telephoto will blur the background, while standard lenses have a more natural look.

Can a telephoto lens be used for landscape photography?

While telephoto lenses can capture landscapes, they’re not the best choice. They can compress the scene and create a flat look, whereas wide-angle lenses are better for capturing vast landscapes with depth and detail.

Are standard lenses suitable for sports photography?

When it comes to sports photography, a standard lens just won’t cut it. Their limited zoom range means you’ll be left squinting to catch the action. That’s where a telephoto lens comes in with its impressive zoom.  The powerful telephoto lens can capture fast actions in stunning detail. Look for lenses with a focal length of 200 mm or more if you are willing to truly capture the scene from a distance.

Can I use a telephoto lens for macro photography?

A telephoto lens can be used as a macro lens, but it’s not the best choice. The telephoto lens has a longer focal length making it harder to focus on very close objects. Instead, use a macro lens designed for capturing sharp, detailed shots of even the tiniest subjects


In conclusion, both telephoto and standard lenses have unique advantages for specific photography genres. Telephoto lenses are ideal for wildlife, sports, and portrait photography due to their extended reach, compression effects, and background isolation.

Standard lenses, on the other hand, offer versatility, convenience, and a natural perspective, making them great for everyday photography, landscapes, and street photography. Consider your photography needs, shooting style, and budget to decide about the lens. If you have any further questions in your mind, feel free to comment down below.

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