I love my zoom lenses because…

  • I can take candid shots without the subject being aware. Little Mathilde had no idea I was catching this lovely moment as she crouched to examine the flower she had picked.
  • It makes people less nervous when you are further away. It can be very off putting when someone points the camera right in your face (Nic – please take note!)
  • Zooming in blurs the background and isolates the subject. Background objects become less distracting and the blurring can create a very pleasing effect – the blues and greens of the bluebell wood in this shot.

I used a 70-300mm f4-5.6 Canon lens for this shot – it’s a good lens to use for candid portraits as it has a good zoom range letting me get close up shots from a distance and has image stabilisation – a must if you want to avoid camera shake. (Imagine using binoculars to look at the moon and it seems to jump all over the place?) This lens is at its best when it’s nice and bright but I have to watch out if the light is a bit low as f4 – f/5.6 does not let a lot of light into the camera, so the shutter speed can be slow, with the result that movement can be blurred. In the shade of the trees it was quite dark  and I really had to increase the ISO to get clear shots of Mathilde running. I have my eye on a telephoto lens with a wider aperture (lower f number) but you wouldn’t believe how much the cost jumps up for this sort of kit!

Many compact cameras now have great zoom lenses. My Panasonic DMC-FZ20 has a 12X zoom (i.e. a lot! equivalent to 36-432mm on a film camera) and also has built in image stabilisation. Be careful about “optical” zoom and “digital” zoom when you use your compact camera to zoom in. The optical zoom uses the lens to make the subject closer. Digital zoom isn’t really zoom – it’s actually just magnifying part of your image, a bit like zooming in on a picture on your computer screen to look at it closer. Image quality isn’t as good once you start using the digital zoom so I usually avoid it. I can set my compact camera to only use the optical zoom but on some compacts the digital zoom kicks in after you have zoomed in as far as the optical zoom lets you. There’s often a slight pause and you have to click/ press to zoom digitally. If I’ve lost you, then just look it up in your manual and have a go with your camera.

Otherwise, just get zooming, fill the frame and enjoy getting some lovely candid shots!

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!

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