Stop making these four mistakes when using a telephoto lens for landscapes


There are plenty of reasons to use telephoto lenses in landscape photography. However, it doesn’t come without some difficulties, and you’re bound to make some mistakes. In this video, Mark Denney addresses the four most common mistakes people make when using telephoto lenses for landscape photography. You may be guilty of them as well, so check out the video and Mark’s tips for improving your photography.

1. Micro-shakes

The first mistake is something that Mark calls “micro-shakes.” It’s the most obvious, but at the same time the most difficult one to resolve. When you use a telephoto lens, you will see those jitters when handholding it, and they surely can mess up the sharpness of your image. Luckily, there are a few ways to resolve this.

First and foremost, put your camera on a tripod. You can use a remote trigger so you don’t touch your shutter button and avoid moving your camera. You can also rely on a self-timer, but make sure to use a longer timer than when you shoot with a wide angle lens (5 or even 10 seconds). This way, you’ll give your camera and lens a bit more time to settle.

There’s also a simple trick Mark shares that could help you get rid of micro-shakes, and it-s especially useful for windy days: remove your lens hood if you don’t need it. If you leave it on, it gives more room for the wind to shake your camera.

Finally, you can turn on IBIS or OIS. It’s usually not advised when your camera is on a tripod, but if it’s windy and you have micro-shakes, you can try this, too.

2. Slow-shutter

When using a wide-angle lens, most photographers choose the aperture between f/11 and f/16 because they want to have the entire scene in focus. But when you use a telephoto lens, depth of field isn’t quite as critical.

Considering that sweet spot of most lenses is around f/8, you have no reason to shoot at smaller apertures. Mark suggests that you figure out the sweet spot of your lens and try using that instead. This way you’ll get more light into the lens, which means that you can use a faster shutter speed and avoid those micro-shakes mentioned above.

You can speed up the shutter speed even more by cranking up the ISO. You don’t want to go too far, but increasing it from 100 to 400 can make a lot of difference in terms of shutter speed.

3. Over-zoom

This is one of the mistakes that Mark admits he still makes and he calls it “over-zooming.” This means zooming all the way in when using a telephoto zoom lens. While you may be tempted to do it, Mark suggests that you leave a bit more breathing room around your composition. This will give you the chance to recompose the shot in post and avoid regretting that you didn’t leave enough room to do it.

4. Soft-focus

Many of us rely a lot on AF, and it sure has become really advanced in most cameras and lenses. But if something is really far away from us, Mark notes that the camera sometimes doesn’t quite lock the focus on what we want. To solve this, he advises you to use the AF on your subject and then immediately switch your camera to manual focus. Then, use focus peaking and adjust your focus to make it perfect.

Do you use telephoto lenses for landscape photography? Do you make any of these mistakes?


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