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Photographing with 200-500mm Telephoto Zoom Lenses

There are times when you just can't get close enough to your subject to capture an engaging photograph, or doing so would only scare your subject away. It's in these situations that a long focal length zoom lens comes in really handy, enabling you to make your subject appear much closer than it actually is. Despite their advantages, long focal length zoom lenses also have some challenges to overcome, including their weight and tendency to create blurred photos due to camera shake.

What Are the Advantages of a Long Focal Length Lens?

Telephoto lenses generally include any lens that is 100mm or longer, giving you much greater reach to photograph subjects that are a long distance away. Super-telephoto lenses usually refer to a lens that is longer than 300mm in length, which is popular with wildlife and sporting photographers who are limited in terms of how close they can get to their subjects.

  • The main advantage of a long focal length zoom lens is that it makes the subject appear much closer than it actually is and enables photographers to capture details that are not visible to the human eye from such a distance.
  • They're particularly useful in photographing animals that would otherwise get spooked or run away when approached, as well as capturing all the action from the boundaries of sporting events.
  • When used in conjunction with a wide aperture, an AF-S long focal length lens can also create sharp images of your subject while beautifully blurring the background behind, which is a look many professional portrait photographers try to achieve.

What Should You Consider When Buying a 200-500mm Lens?

Zoom lenses are a good option when you want a lens that is versatile, giving you the option to rapidly switch between shooting subjects up close and those that are far away. Make sure the lens you are considering is compatible with your model of digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) or film SLR, such as a number of AF-S 3.5-5.6 ED VR zooms when shooting with Nikon cameras.

  • It's important to keep in mind that AF-S 200-500mm zoom lenses tend to be quite heavy and bulky to carry, particularly when trekking long distances to capture photographs.
  • Because of their super-zoom features, long lenses are also more subject to blurring images due to camera shake, and you may need to use them with a tripod for the sharpest images possible. Look for Nikon lenses with vibration reduction (VR) image stabilization technology or ED VR lenses with extra-low dispersion glass, as well as VR, to help correct chromatic aberrations.
  • Many long lenses have relatively narrow apertures, such as f/3.5-5.6, which means you won't be able to achieve the bokeh effects of wider aperture lenses.

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