13 long lens photography techniques: You Must to know?

Compared to photography at regular focal lengths. shooting with a long lens necessitates a completely distinct set of abilities and methods. When shooting at long focal lengths for the first few times, even experienced photographers find it difficult.  As I conduct a free photography course to forty readers of Improve Photography. This week in Yellowstone, I'm reminded of some of the early mistakes I made that compromised the sharpness of my images. I've listed a few of the long lens methods I've learnt below.

Here's 13 long lens photography techniques 

Make Use of the Image Stabilization Modes

 long lens photography techniques

There are many image stabilization modes available on many long lenses, and choosing the right one can affect the image's clarity.

Long lenses typically have two image stabilization settings. Generally, general photography uses Mode 1. Most of the time, that's where you ought to be. Panning mode 2 allows you to swing the lens while taking a picture. Although Mode 2 can be employed in any wildlife circumstance, bird photographers are the ones who use it most frequently.

The idea that you would be turning on this lens switch each time the animal moved is absurd. There isn't time for that. However, switch the lens to mode 2 if you know you'll be panning while taking the picture.

Focus modes are implemented by different manufacturers' lenses, so it's worth double checking to see what options are available. Generally, there are two modes—1 and 2—that are used for general and panning.

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Select the Right Shutter Speed

The 1/focal length rule, which states that you should choose a shutter speed denominator equal to your focal length. The common wisdom when choosing a shutter speed. Thus, if your lens is zoomed to 100mm (a scale at the top indicates the greatest magnification). you should select a focal length of 1/100 or quicker (e.g., 1/200, 1/800, 1/1000, etc.).That is just partially effective. I don't feel as like I have to always photograph at 1/500 while using a 500mm lens. If the lens includes image stabilization, I can usually shoot at a very low shutter speed—roughly 1/200—without any problems.

The 1/focal length rule seems reasonable to me up to a point. However, it seems that your focus length can be significantly longer after you reach 1/250 or 1/320.

I attempt to maintain my shutter speed at 1/320 or below when using long lenses. As long as I am holding stable and utilizing solid technique. I find that 1/320 is quick enough, even with a crop sensor camera and a 600mm lens (effective focal length of 900mm).

Racked Out from Back Down

Zooming in with a lens to its largest focal length is referred regarded as "racked out" by photographers. When it comes to the supertelephoto zoom lenses available today, this is almost never the sharpest focal length. For instance, at 600mm compared to 500mm, the Sigma and Tamron 150-600mm lenses are both much less crisp.

Sometimes you get a good clarity edge if you can walk closer instead of zooming in to get closer to the animal or action.

Test the sharpness of your lens at various focal lengths by sticking a text-filled piece of paper to your home's exterior (or any other brightly lit spot). Take a sample shot and move away from the wall until the piece of paper fills the frame. Take a step back, adjust the focus length, and then fill the frame once more. You should see a significant difference if you do this at different focal lengths.

Try to get on the tripod.

 long lens photography techniques

A tripod helps address a wide range of long lens technique errors. Yet, utilizing a tripod while shooting with a long lens can be restrictive.

There are a few things to know before I recommend using a tripod. There won't be a single tripod along the sidelines of any major athletic event. All you'll see are monopods. You would be mistaken to believe that the monopod is only utilized when a tripod is not a suitable option for image stabilization.

The monopod is NOT utilized to steady the image when taking sports shots. It serves to stabilize the lens so that the photographer is spared from bearing the weight of the lens for the full match. In reality, you wouldn't notice any difference in quality between handheld and tripod shots during a sporting event. providing you could hold a long lens with your hands. Why? thus the shutter speed is greater than 1/1000. Under typical circumstances, that speed will drop any camera shake.

wildlife photographers hardly never use a tripod when taking pictures. This is also partly to sustain the weight of the lens, but it's also because photos of wildlife are taken in low light and don't always feature activity.

Turn Off the Car

Sports photographers can ignore this advice, but when wildlife is close to the road. wildlife photographers take shots from a moving vehicle. While capturing wildlife from this non-threatening vantage point. The inherent vibration of an automobile engine degrades the quality of the image.

To remove the vibration of the car from the lens. you can attempt various methods such as using a bean bag or supporting the camera with your hand. But if your shutter speed is not quick enough, nothing will work.

Turn off the ignition before firing if you're shooting wildlife from a moving car for much crisper shots. This is accurate up to a shutter speed of roughly 1/800. By then, the shutter speed will have increased to the point where it becomes irrelevant.

Use the ISO carefully.

Using a long lens to get better action images appears to be as simple as raising the ISO. For instance, it's not uncommon to see experts shooting at ISO 3200 to get a shutter speed of 1/1000 when doing sports photography.

When shooting with a long lens, it is always preferable to increase the ISO and get the ideal shutter speed rather than reducing the shutter speed to achieve a higher ISO.

How high an ISO can you set? Yes, it depends on several aspects, primarily the particular camera body you have. But, give your camera a test run and learn how high you can set the ISO before losing sharpness. Even a LOW ISO of 1000 on a 7D Mark II—something I would never contemplate doing for sports photography. might be too high for taking a mostly still picture of wildlife.

Practise for a Few Days First

You will almost certainly get fantastic results if you use the long lens strategies described in this article. But be aware that you will be altering a significant amount of your presumably built-up "muscle memory." Using a long lens requires a different shooting technique. You're likely to make a lot of mistakes when you combine that fact with the typical situation of renting a long lens for a particular wildlife or sports photography vacation.

Even if you're an experienced photographer. if you're using a new lens, it's worth renting for a few more days before the trip so you may practice on backyard birds to determine the smallest shutter speed for handheld and tripod use, among other things.

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Increase to the F-Stop Where Possible

long lens photography techniques

With any long lens, wide open is the aperture that is most frequently photographed. To blur away the background, sports photographers should usually use the lowest aperture on their lens.

In terms of wildlife photography, this is not the case. When the animal and background have sufficient natural separation. it's convenient to be able to slightly stop down the aperture if your shutter speed is high enough.

Because many animals are quite lengthy. selecting an f-stop that is too low frequently results in only a part of the animal's body being sharply focused. Ideally, you want to capture the entire subject in crisp focus, so think about stepping back just a little bit to capture the animal in clear focus.

Support the Lens

Put your left hand as far out as it is comfortable to reach on top of the lens if you are using a tripod for wildlife photography or a monopod for sports. The shake on the front of the lens is considerably lessened in this position.

Consider resting the lens against the window higher up on the lens if you're photographing wildlife while driving. Even when the lens is rested farther back on the automobile (facing the camera), a noticeable amount of lens wobble may still remain.

Keeping up Your Distancing

The working distance is a further benefit of long lenses. Large telephoto lenses enable you maintain a safe distance, allowing the animal to continue with its normal activities.

This is a major benefit if you wish to record behavior. Certain animals go into fight-or-flight mode when they get too close.

You lose the subject if it runs. It becomes quite rigid and tenses up when it is scared. It tracks your every move and goes into defense mode. If you let it to do its thing, you'll get much nicer pictures in return.

Avoiding from Background Distractions

Magnification is beneficial for another reason: it makes the background cleaner. Because of the reduced angle of view, there is less background distraction and clutter. Additionally, long lenses—especially the faster ones with a maximum aperture of f/4 or wider—have a narrower depth of field. A long lens, a wide-open aperture, and a background that is far enough away from the subject to create a wash of color are the perfect combination. Because it is the only sharp portion of the photograph, the subject jumps out of the page as a result.

Faster Shutter Speeds

  • Long lenses make the subject appear larger, but they also make your mistakes appear larger. 

  • One drawback is that, absent the use of a shutter speed to compensate, they highlight even the smallest lens movement.

  • Using a minimum shutter speed that is 1/over the reciprocal of the lens is the general rule of thumb. For example, the slowest shutter speed I use when handholding my 600mm lens is 1/600 sec.

  • I still make an effort to use a speedier one. There is forgiveness when using a tripod or bean bag, but careless tripod use will still show movement.

  • Using your other hand to stabilize the lens shade, gently press the shutter.

Tripod Stability

 long lens photography techniques

I highly suggest using a sturdy tripod while taking pictures with a long lens. Please don't mount a $10,000+ prime telephoto lens on a $150 tripod with an inexpensive head. You will cry a lot when you see it fall to the ground. Using your left hand to steady the front of the lens while your rig is positioned on a sturdy tripod is a useful tip for long lens photography. While some place it behind the lens barrel and push up, others place it on top of the barrel. Choose the one that works best for you and add it to your repertoire; both are viable. 


For photographers, learning long lens photography techniques opens them a world of creative possibilities. the lenses offer common viewpoints and creative compositions in addition to bringing distant subjects closer. Through a mastery of composition, deep of the field, and appropriate focusing techniques, photographers can produce visually striking and unique photos. Additionally, as long-lens photography techniques need both a steady hand and acute attention to detail, practice, and patience are important for perfecting them. In the end, learning long-lens photography is a worthwhile hobby that gives photographers the ability to record amazing moments that they might have missed otherwise.


Q: What lens is used for long shot?

A: Starting with lenses with focal lengths between 23 and 70 mm is an excellent idea. Another option is to choose a lens similar to a 16mm lens, although that could give your scene a "fish-eye" effect, which could be ideal.

Q: Why do photographers use long lenses?

A: Using a long lens is a guaranteed way for photographers to capture a flattering shot in an ugly setting. The longer the lens, the better. Since a low f-stop in conjunction with long lenses results in a small depth of field.

Q: At what shutter speed may one use long lenses?

A: One useful guideline to follow while taking handheld photos is to make sure your shutter speed is at least equal to your lens's focal length. Example 1: Aim for a shutter speed of at least 1/300 seconds while using a 75-       300mm lens on a full-frame 35mm DSLR camera that is zoomed in to 300mm; 1/500 is even better.


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