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What is the Difference Between Telephoto and Macro Lens?

Knowing the difference will elevate your photography.
Before we talk about the difference between telephoto and macro lenses, it is helpful to know the ‘why’ behind them. We know that both lenses incorporate a zoom feature, but what makes them any different from your iPhone zoom feature? This is where digital and optical zoom come into play.

What is Digital and Optical Zoom?

  • Digital zoom uses technology to zoom by enlarging the photo. As you zoom in, the image is cropped which produces a low-resolution image with a grainy look. We don’t recommend enlarging photos shot with digital zoom alone. The iPhone uses digital zoom passed 3x.
  • Optical zoom uses a lens to magnify which keeps the image in a higher resolution resulting in a sharp image. Photos taken with optical zoom will hold their quality when enlarged in a photo-editing software. Optical zoom is available on the iPhone at 0.5x, 1x and 3x.

The SANDMARC telephoto and macro lenses were designed specifically for iPhones. They act as an add-on to enhance the existing digital and optical zoom features.

What is a Telephoto Lens?

The telephoto lens is designed to bring far objects closer while keeping the image sharp. When you are using the telephoto lens, distance is not something to fear. The SANDMARC telephoto lens has a focal length of 55mm. This lens creates a natural bokeh effect. Your focal point is sharp while the out-of-focus areas have a high quality of lighting and softness.

Wanting to learn more about bokeh? Read the article here.

What is a Macro Lens?

Macro is derived from the Greek word Makro, meaning large. When using a macro lens it will make your object of choice seem larger than it actually is, while also getting a beautifully detailed shot. As you shoot with the macro lens you want to be no more than 12 inches or less from the object you are focusing on.

At SANDMARC there are two types of macro lenses to choose from. The 25mm lens captures close-up details. The 100mm lens provides extended focus distance. This makes it ideal for photographing or filming moving objects or subjects requiring more space.

Now you try...

Developing an eye for selecting the ideal lens for each photo opportunity will better your photography experience. Enjoy your time outdoors and take advantage of the right lens for each shot.

Below are images. It is your job to decide which lens is best. Consider the goal of the photo when making your decision.
If you want to get a close-up shot of the woman in the photo below, which lens would you use?
The woman looks far away, so the telephoto lens is what you’ll need for this shot.

That looks great, now let's take a look at the next photo...

If you want to focus on the details of the middle part of the flower, which lens would you use?
The flower is small. The macro lens is perfect for getting a closer look. Let's use the 100mm lens.
Beautiful shot. Let's zoom in once more.
Amazing, look at that detail.

Is Macro or Telephoto Better?

This is a hard question to answer because each lens has a different purpose. The macro lens is ideal for photographing small objects. It also creates a shallow depth of field. The telephoto lens is best for zooming in on distant objects. Because of this, the better question to ask is, "Which lens will produce better image quality of my focal point?”

How Do I Decide Between the Macro and Telephoto Lens?

Macro and telephoto photography are each their own styles of photography, so it depends on what photos you hope to take. Here are examples of each:

Here is a list of macro lens photography ideas:

As a reminder, when you are using macro lenses you want to focus on small objects that are close to you.
  • Rings
  • Food
  • Insects
  • Flowers
Here is a list of telephoto lens photography ideas:

As a reminder, telephoto lenses allow you to be farther away from the object that you want to focus on. This is a great perk!

  • Landscape
  • Cityscape
  • People
  • Theme parks
  • Portraits
When selecting a zoom lens, it is important to consider the variables above for optimal image quality. Once you are well-adjusted to macro photography and telephoto photography you will begin to see an improvement in your images.

Macro and telephoto lenses are two zoom lenses that open doors to endless creative possibilities!