Great nature pictures are often made possible by telephoto lenses. Thanks to new technology, lighter and more powerful lenses are coming into the budgets of more photographers. Below you will find a few tips that should improve your chances of getting sharp pictures with your handheld telephoto lens.
Use High Shutter Speeds
High shutter speeds are necessary to get sharp pictures with your telephoto lens. When you magnify an image, you also magnify the affects of camera movement. You can counteract this by using a fast shutter speed, giving slight movement little chance to blur your image. A good rule of thumb is to shoot at a shutter speed of 1/focal length or faster. For example, if your zoom lens is set at 200mm, shoot at a shutter speed of 1/250 or greater.
Use High Speed Film (ISO 400+)
High speed film (ISO 400+) is more sensitive to light. That means less light is needed to get the same exposure (compared to say a 100 or 200 speed film or low ISO setting on your digital camera). Less light amounts to higher shutter speeds that freeze both camera and subject movement.
Use a Wide Aperture
Use a wide aperture when you want to isolate your subject and throw a distracting background out of focus. Apertures like f5.6 or wider will usually do the job, especially if your subject is located a good distance away from the actual background. If your subject is a person or animal, focus on the eyes. It is often better to frame the subject against a dark colored background in order to capture the greatest degree of detail in your subject.
Use a Tripod
You should use a tripod whenever you can. Nothing beats a strong, heavy tripod in delivering sharp telephoto shots. Invest in a high quality tripod (like a Gitzo, Bogen, etc.) and your pictures will show it!
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