What is a Wide-angle Lens?

A wide-angle lens is a lens with a shorter focal length than a normal lens that can shoot a wider angle. The short focal length of a wide-angle lens is generally less than or equal to 35 millimeters (converted to full-frame). According to the focal length, wide-angle lenses can be divided into three types: wide-angle lenses (24 mm to 35 mm), ultra-wide-angle lenses (UWA, less than 24 mm), and fisheye.

Where Wide-angle Lenses are Used

  • Landscape Photography: It is hoped that more horizontal range can be presented in the image, capturing a wider field of view without missing any exciting details.
  • Urban Photography: Wide-angle lenses can capture a large number of people or city streets at an ultra-wide angle to maximize all the looks of the city.
  • Architectural Photography: A wide-angle lens can complete the composition of a building with a single focal point, producing perspective distortion that will make the building shot perfect.
The Difference Between a Wide-Angle Lens and a Telephoto Lens: Which is Best for You

Image resources: https://blog.rmsp.com/2023/06/13/wide-vs-telephoto-lenses/

What is a Telephoto Lens?

A telephoto lens is a lens with a longer focal length than a normal lens, allowing the videographer to use a shorter focal length than the physical length of the lens. The focal length of a telephoto lens typically exceeds 50mm (converted to full frame), and depending on the focal length, telephoto lenses can be categorized into two types: mid-telephoto (70mm to 135mm), and super-telephoto (greater than 200mm).

Where Telephoto Lenses are Used

  • Because a telephoto lens can make a distant subject appear closer than it is, telephoto lenses are great for places such as portrait photography, specific landscape photography, and contrast photography.
  • Ultra-telephoto lenses are mainly used in wildlife, sports photography, astrophotography, and other settings.
The Difference Between a Wide-Angle Lens and a Telephoto Lens: Which is Best for You
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Difference between Wide Angle Lens and Telephoto Lens

Field of view

In the previous analysis of the definition of telephoto lenses and wide-angle lenses, we can find that the main difference between the two is the field of view, wide-angle lenses have a wide field of view, while telephoto lenses have a narrower field of view.

Wide-angle lenses can cover an FOV range of 64° to 84°, ultra-wide angle can cover an FOV range of 100° or more, and fisheye can cover an FOV range of up to 180°.

Medium telephoto lenses have an FOV range of 30° to 10°, while super telephoto lenses have an FOV range of only 8° to 1°.

Depth of Field

Depth of field is the area of acceptable sharpness in front of and behind a well-focused focal point, i.e., it allows the viewer to get an idea of how obvious the scene is in the frame. A shallow depth of field indicates a small area of clarity, while a deeper depth of field indicates a large area of transparency. For a given sensor, aperture, and camera-to-camera distance, depth of field is related to focal length in the following way: the longer the focal length, the shallower the depth of field, and the shorter the focal length, the deeper the depth of field.

A camera with a shallow depth of field, i.e. a telephoto lens, can be used if the photographer wants the photographic subject to stand out clearly in the frame. A camera with a deep depth of field, i.e., a wide-angle lens, can be used when you want the subject to encompass more of the visible scene.

The Difference Between a Wide-Angle Lens and a Telephoto Lens: Which is Best for You
Image resources: https://digital-photography-school.com/wide-angle-versus-telephoto-lenses-for-beautiful-landscape-photography/

Viewing Effects

Telephoto and wide-angle lenses produce different types of perspective distortion, which can affect image results. Wide-angle lenses can have the effect of expanding the depth of a photo by enlarging the foreground elements to minimize the background elements, while telephoto lenses make distant and near objects appear more similar in size by compressing the distance between different planes in the image.

Other Differences

  • Lightness: Telephoto lenses are heavier and more difficult to maneuver because of their larger focal lengths, while wide-angle lenses are usually more compact and easier to carry than telephoto lenses.
  • Filters: Most telephoto lenses can be fitted with screw-in filters, but wide-angle lenses and fisheyes cannot be fitted with filters.
  • Camera Shake: Because telephoto lenses have a narrower, more cumbersome field of view, camera shake will be a little more frequent.

Disadvantages and Advantages of Wide-angle Lenses


  • Allows the videographer to photograph more massive objects, such as buildings like skyscrapers.
  • Wide-angle lenses have a very wide aperture.
  • Allows for very interesting shots.


  • May not be very perfect if used in portrait shooting situations.
  • Distortion problems occur more frequently.
  • High-quality wide-angle lenses are more expensive.
The Difference Between a Wide-Angle Lens and a Telephoto Lens: Which is Best for You
Image resources: https://orah.co/what-is-a-telephoto-lens/

Disadvantages and Advantages of Telephoto Lenses


    • Provides a longer shooting distance and more room to shoot.
    • Photographers do not need to move their bodies to photograph distant targets.


    • Tend to shake easily and requires a tripod to balance the lens.
    • Telephoto lenses are usually heavy and difficult to carry.
    • Extremely wide-aperture telephoto lenses are very expensive.


    Whether it is daily street photography or professional photography, users need to first understand the differences and characteristics between different camera lenses, and combine their actual needs to choose the right camera.