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Wide vs Telephoto Lens in Photography



Ever wonder the difference between shooting a wide lens vs telephoto lens? Here we we will discuss some examples of 18mm and 135mm lenses. While we are using Leica M lenses on a Leica SL2-S Camera, these principles apply to lenses from different manufactures. Carlo Velasquez, a photographer and employee at Leica Store SF, explored the streets of San Francisco using both Wide Angle and Telephoto Lenses.


Most people that are familiar with street photography typically use a prime lens, and stay in the 28mm, 35mm, or 50 mm focal range. A 28mm focal length lets you fill the frame and get close up without too much distortion. The 50 mm focal length gives you minor compression depth and is great for portraits. The 35mm is a versatile lens that bridges the benefits of a 28mm and a 50mm. All three of these focal lengths portray realistic perspectives and loosely match what we see with the human eye. 


Here we explored the furthest ends of each side of the lens spectrum with the 18mm and 135mm. We used these lenses side by side in a street setting to show off some of their strengths and weaknesses. We only used prime lenses for this comparison.


Leica M 18mm f3.8 ASPH

When using a wide angle it allows you to show more of the scene, so in this first case (pictured below) you can get the whole cityscape and then, depending on your orientation, you can fill the frame in different ways. The wide angle is really good if you want to try and fill your frame with lots of converging lines and different shapes. Overall if gives you a more epic look to your photos. It is also great for when you're up close to someone you can still get pretty much their whole body in the shot. Another great instance to use a wide angle lens is in enclosed spaces. The wide angle lets you have extra room.


Leica M 135mm f3.4 APO-Tele

Using a telephoto lens can be a little tricky for angles, especially in large cities like San Francisco. Carlo suggests for these types of angles, simply rotating the camera from horizontal to vertical will allow you to get more of the desired image. When shooting telephoto there are some specifics to keep in mind, such as how far away you are from the subject. With a telephoto lens the closer you are to the the subject, the more you risk capturing an unflattering image. If you are able to position your subjects far enough away, it'll make it will make for a nice magnification of the scene.  With the telephoto you're able to bring your background closer while keeping the compression and size relatively the same. 


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