Telephoto Lens Explained: What's Its Use in a Mobile Camera

The craze over dual-camera smartphones has been on the rise for the last couple of years. It became more dynamic when Apple introduced the feature to the iPhone 7 Plus in 2016.

Since then, dual cameras have become almost a mandatory feature on several mid and high-range Android phones.

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However, not all dual-camera setups are the same. Some smartphones come with a primary lens that does the main job while the secondary is either in the form of monochrome, wide-angle or a telephoto lens.

Today, we're going to dig deep into the functionality a telephoto lens and it’s importance in smartphone cameras. So, without further ado, let’s jump in.

What is a Telephoto Lens?

A telephoto lens is designed to get you as close to a distant subject as possible. With their higher focal length, telephoto lenses let you zoom in generally between 2-2.3x of the frame without compromising on the image quality.

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Apple iPhone 7 Plus/8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, OnePlus 5, Xiaomi Mi A1 are some of the dual-camera smartphones that have a wide angle lens and a telephoto lens. With a 2x optical zoom, you can also use the digital zoom to get to 10x.

The telephoto lens is mainly used to put the background of an image out of focus and change the perspective to allow more depth.

Effects of a Telephoto Lens on Your Photos

The telephoto lens works much better than a digital zoom, which essentially enlarges and crops the photo. It has twice the focal length of the primary lens and gives you an instant 2x optical zoom. Moreover, it also has a narrow field of view that makes distant objects look similar to the objects closer to the camera.

Telephoto

In addition to providing the much-needed optical zoom, the telephoto lens also has the ability to take some decent images with a shallow depth-of-field. It also compliments the primary camera in portrait mode to provide the bokeh effect.

Moreover, the additional camera software works with the lenses to attempt to provide deeper bokeh effects.

The telephoto lens compliments the primary camera in portrait mode to provide the bokeh effect.

Telephoto Lens vs Wide-Angle Lens

As the name suggests, a wide-angle lens allows the space for a wider perspective without you having to move back. Wide lenses give you a broader field of view while telephoto lenses give you a narrow view. It first debuted on the LG G5 last year and LG repeated the same with LG G6.

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Wide-angle lenses make it easier for you to shoot a large group photo or landscape shots.

However, wide-angle lenses take the focus away from individual elements within the landscape and only highlight the overall surroundings. On the other hand, telephoto lenses focus more on the size and shape of each distant element and offer a more vivid perspective. Some smartphone makers even add the background blur effect that results in breathtaking images in the portrait mode. 

The combination of a telephoto lens and the background blur gives far superior results than just applying background blur on wide-angle images.

Different Dual Camera Setup

Smartphone manufacturers choose different types of lenses for the dual-camera setup. Some of them prefer the combination of one wide-angle and one telephoto lens while the likes of LG go with two wide lenses. However, the recently launched OnePlus 5T also sports a wide-angle lens and it has ditched the telephoto lens in favor of a low-light optimized camera.

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Meanwhile, Huawei is known for its RGB (color) and monochrome (black and white) dual-lens setup. The Honor 8 and the Honor 8 Pro, the Honor P9, and the high-end P10 all sport dual-camera setups of this unique combination.

Twice the Fun!

So, are you thinking of buying a dual-camera phone? Will you go one with a telephoto lens? Let us know in the comments section below. Perhaps, we can help you to decide.

Sneha Bokil

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