The Best & Worst Digital Camera Telephoto Lenses of 2009

Posted by Photo Man

Before showering praise or criticism on any specific telephoto lens, it may be worthwhile to expel a few words on exactly what a camera telephoto lens is, and what it does.

In a nutshell, a telephoto lens brings the subject targeted by the photographer, closer to that said photographer. And as a result, produces a still photograph or video for any subsequent viewers that is larger, more detailed and exhibits greater clarity then could have been achieved without the benefit of an additional lens. A somewhat more technical definition would be a lens that is built from a rather long focal length lens, but where the actual tangible length of this lens is less than the desired focal length. That is not to suggest, that every lens with a longer focal length than normal is a true telephoto lens. A true telephoto lens will contain a combination of rear lenses ofter referred to as the telephoto group.

There are a few points to consider when buying a digital camera telephoto lens.

It's important to know what camera or cameras, you intend to use the lens with. Different makes, models, and manufacturers often have their own lens mounting systems. Some maybe simple screw lenses, while others may have more elaborate mounting mechanisms.

Consider the subject environment you will be shooting in. While telephoto lens lend themselves to specific types of subjects, such as sporting events, wildlife photography, surveillance work and landscape vistas, that's not to suggest that they aren't also used for fashion or wedding photography.

If you never used a zoom lens much in the past, then sales staff can be an invaluable resource. They handle this type of equipment on a daily basis, are often more than will to share their opinions. They may be somewhat biased, especially if their working on commission, so be sure to take what they say with a grain of salt. A good source of unbiased information can be found online. The more reputable online sites like Amazon, contain tons of real users who often share their product experience in online reviews.

Reading manuals for the specific models can be helpful as well. Most manufacturers these days, place their product manuals online in PDF form. If you Google around a bit online, you should be able to find the manual of the product your looking for.

Now speaking of the better lens I and a number of happy customers would recommend are:

Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras
This lens is great for anyone who wants to try out a L-series lens in the 10-200 mm focal length range, and not spend a whole ton of money. At the time of writing this, I'm finding this lens for under $600. Additionally, if your tired of hauling around the much heavier 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, this may be a better lens for you. Remember, this lens doesn't include IS, so that may or may not be a deal breaker for you.

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

If money is less important than the quality of your photographs, then it may be time to step up to this lens. It goes for around $1700 new, or a couple hundred less used. It does however include image stabilization, which is important if a tripod is not an option for your photo shoots.

Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens for Canon SLR Cameras

Some of the things to really like about this lens, include the remarkable sharpness and clarity. An auto focus that is both darn near silent, and fast. Also included is a dual image stabilization system. It is on the downside of course a heavy lens, which I'm sure your well aware of, if you've been doing your research with other telephoto lenses in this category.


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