Wide or telephoto?

I am going to repeat something I have mentioned many times before, but that never goes out of style: the difference between a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens.

Here is the same car shot recently with a telephoto lens from afar and then with a wide angle from close up:

Telephoto/far away:

A 1958 Dodge shot in Oakville by Michael Willems

A 1958 Dodge in Oakville (70-200)

Wide/close by:

A 1958 Dodge shot in Oakville by Michael Willems using a wide angle lens

A 1958 Dodge in Oakville (16-35)

You see the difference, yes? If ever the saying “a picture paints 1,000 words” is true, I imagine it is here.

Wide shows enhanced perspective/depth. Telephoto makes it look flat. This is not because of magic in the lens: it is simply because of the vantage point you take using each lens.

In addition,

  • Telephoto creates blurrier backgrounds more easily, while wide can easily have extensive depth of field
  • Wide is less susceptible to motion blur

Wide is better for situational portraits, low light shooting, and architecture, and much travel. Telephoto is better for flattering portraits.

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