Good Stuff Awards 2016: Best Telephoto Lens
What separates the men from the boys? The women from the girls? The camera tester from the sports photographer? A good telephoto lens.
Give me a 500mm f/4 lens, and I’m impressed. The high build quality and the high image quality takes my breath away. But I don’t have the experience to get beautiful shots with it in practice. It’s like giving a pill to a sick dog: the vet shows you how to put the pill in the dog’s mouth and hold the mouth closed until the dog swallows the pill: "Piece of cake," you think. And when you try it yourself, you need a pile of band-aids afterwards.
That’s how it is with a real telephoto lens as well.
Have you ever tried to take pictures with a lens with a very long focal length? Now and then an amateur photographer goes along with me when I get to test a very big telephoto lens. Without exception, they come home with the a lot of failed shots. That is not a problem with the equipment: it has to do with their lack of experience.
Just getting your subject in frame is an art. If the telephoto lens is also bright, then you also have to be able to handle the added weight.
But in the hands of Formula 1 photographer Peter van Egmond, a 500mm f/4 transforms from a growling monster into a cuddly old soul that does whatever Peter wants. A lens that only seems to make keepers and masterpieces. If you practice a great deal, you can do that too. Check our Good Stuff Awards list with the best telephoto lenses that we have reviewed.