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Shoot portraits with a telephoto lens

Flatter your friends

Tara W. has worked for Crutchfield since 2004. She writes about whole-house music and video gear, and works on Crutchfield's video team.

More from Tara W.

Adding a telephoto lens to your camera lets you zoom in on distant subjects, but did you know that it can be useful when taking nearby people shots, too? Well, it does -- a telephoto lens can help you flatter your subject when you're taking portraits.

A lens at its 50mm equivalent is roughly the same view that your eye sees. A focal length equivalent that is smaller than 50mm shows you more of the scene in front of you than your eye sees, and is considered to be wide-angle. On the other hand, a focal length equivalent of more than 50mm will magnify, or zoom in, on your subjects.

Wide-angle shots are awesome for capturing a huge landscape, but aren't necessarily great for portraits of your friends and family. Portraits at the wide-angle end of a zoom lens, for instance, can seem almost comical because they accentuate facial features. To keep your photos looking great and your subjects happy, consider shooting people pics at the telephoto end of your lens.

This is easiest to do with a DSLR camera, but you can use this tip with a point-and-shoot cam, too. Simply step further back and zoom in for people shots -- you and your friends will be pleased with the results.

Here's a great example:

A photo shot at 18mm equivalent focal length:

18 mm

And a more flattering photo shot at 105mm equivalent focal length:

105 mm









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