Why use a telephoto lens?

Practically all my photos are taken with a telephoto lens, a Nikon 70-300 VR.

These type of lenses are typically used when taking photos of wild animals and birds.

But, their short focal length makes them very useful for taking photos of wildflowers and butterflies too.

The short focal length allows for a sharp focus on an element of a flower or the eye of a butterfly. Everything else in the photo dissolves to a blur. This effect minimizes the distractions in the photo.

Below are three photos showing the beneficial aspects of a short focal length.

Orange Agoceris (there aren't many burnt-orange wildflowers)

Orange Agoceris (there aren’t many burnt-orange wildflowers)

Fritillary Butterfly

Fritillary Butterfly

Old Men of the Mountains

Old Men of the Mountains

Categories: How to photographTags: , ,


  1. You have a point in that this means that people do not need to buy new gear to try this area of photography, but you can get closer with a wide angle, and finally a macro lens will give you more detail. But the telephoto is how to start and used with extension tubes and a tripod can get you quite close.

    • Thanks for the useful advice. It’s always a balance.
      Butterflies in alpine areas tend to move quickly, taking advantage of the short growing season of the wildflowers. It’s very difficult to get wide-angle lens’ close to them. A telephoto lens provides the flexibility to take some good photos.
      On the other hand, I use a wide-angle lens for wild flowers from time to time. Although, one loses the benefits of the shallow depth of field of a telephoto lens.

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