How to use Canon lenses: telephotos & super zooms
21 Banish dark corners
All lenses have a degree of corner darkening, although you may only notice it when the background is light in tone. Fast zooms and prime lenses used at their widest aperture settings are particularly prone to the effect.
However, there are a variety of ways in which you can reduce the problem. Choosing a narrower aperture can remove the worst.
Activate the Peripheral Illumination Correction function of your EOS camera to brighten up the corners at the time of shooting, or shoot Raw and use the vignette reduction tools available in Adobe Camera Raw or DPP.
22 Compress perspective
Telephoto lenses ‘compress’ a scene (although it’s really down to the distance you’re shooting at rather than the focal length itself), which makes foreground and background elements appear closer than they are in reality.
You can use this to make hills and mountain ranges look densely packed together, or to make the buildings in a city appear stacked in each other’s shadow.
The only thing to be aware of is that telephoto lenses have a shallower depth of field than standard or wider lenses; this is useful for creating a blurred background in a portrait, but makes things difficult when you want to keep every ‘layer’ in a scene sharp.
23 Watch the speed
Longer focal lengths require faster shutter speeds to reduce the effects of camera shake compared to lenses with shorter focal lengths.
On a full-frame EOS camera, a 50mm lens should deliver sharp pictures when it’s being handheld at 1/50 sec or faster – however a focal length of 500mm can require a minimum shutter speed of 1/500 sec or faster for the same result.
This means that wide apertures and higher ISOs are often required (eg f/4 at ISO800 for a 1/500 sec shutter speed), although Image Stabilization can help make the difference between a blurred shot and a sharp one.
However, for consistently tack-sharp shots we’d always recommend a tripod when using lenses of 500mm or more.
24 Attach a lens hood
It’s common knowledge that a lens hood can shield the front element of a lens and prevent ghosting and flare from degrading picture quality. However, a lens hood is much more versatile than that.
For instance, fit one when you’re shooting in damp conditions and you’ll protect the front element from raindrops and snow – it can even be used to hold a makeshift plastic rain cover in place when conditions turn torrential.
If you do a lot of photography at the zoo or in an aquarium, consider a buying a third-party rubber hood that will enable you to press the lens against viewing windows and reduce reflections.
25 Extend shooting time
Image Stabilization is a common feature on telephoto lenses and superzooms from Canon, Sigma and Tamron, but it’s one of the many advanced features that can quickly drain batteries if used excessively.
This is exacerbated in winter, when cold conditions cause camera batteries to lose their charge much more quickly. So when the temperature plummets, switch IS off and increase the ISO to give you faster shutter speeds for handheld photography – or reach for a tripod instead.
Extend shooting time further by switching the lens to manual focus (MF) while you’re at it.
What to consider when buying one of these Canon lenses…
26 Floating aperture
Telephoto zooms that have a fixed aperture, such as a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, can be very expensive. A more affordable option is a zoom with a ‘floating’ aperture (such as f/5-6.3), where the aperture gets smaller as you zoom into a scene, meaning less light makes it through to the camera sensor.
27 How long?
The barrels of superzooms and some super-telephoto lenses can extend quite far at full zoom. This can make them a little unwieldy, particularly in the case of big lenses. Superzooms can almost double in length, but a zoom lock switch can prevent them from accidentally extending in transit.
28 Extend the reach
A teleconverter fits between the lens and the camera and multiplies the effective focal length of the lens by 1.4x (with the Canon EF 1.4x III Extender) or 2x (EF 2x III Extender). The downside is slower autofocus, a narrower maximum aperture, and slightly reduced image quality.
29 Keep it clean
Dust and other marks on the front element can reduce image quality, so keep it spotless. Invest in a bulb blower, brush and microfibre lens cloth – and use them in that order. Buying clear protective filters for all your lenses can provide a barrier against knocks and inclement weather.
SEE MORE: How to clean a camera lens
30 Get closer
Although telephoto lenses offer greater reach, you may still need to be surprisingly close to a subject for it to fill the frame.
However, you’ll be limited by the minimum focus distance of the lens. To focus closer than the lens allows, you’ll need to buy an extension tube – a simple adaptor that bayonets onto the rear of the lens.
PAGE 1 – How to use Canon lenses: standard & wide-angle zooms
PAGE 2 – How to use Canon lenses: prime lenses
PAGE 3 – How to use Canon lenses: telephotos & super zooms
PAGE 4 – How to use Canon lenses: specialist lenses
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