Tips and Tricks for Using a Telephoto Zoom Lens

Once upon a time I thought all camera lens were created equal. I was happy with my standard lens that came with the body, and snapped away thinking that some of the not-so-great photos which resulted – were my fault. ‘If only I were a professional’ I often wished.

Then, as my skills and knowledge grew, I was introduced to the different lenses on the market and developed my own lens wish-list with some purchases.

Then, I recently got my first telephoto lens, a Canon luxury Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens. Game changer!

Tips and Tricks for Using a Telephoto Zoom Lens

You will fall in love with a telephoto lens if you enjoy photographing sporting events, nature and animals, landscapes, and even children’s plays, concerts etc. I got some beautiful photos when photographing a cheerleading competition with my telephoto lens.

telephoto lens canonl canadian mom blogger

I was able to capture the excitement of my kids sledding, without putting myself in harms way right in front of them on the hill. As well, I caught a nervous smile on my daughters face, from the far side of the school gymnasium, when she was the lead character in a musical performance. 

Having a telephoto lens will place you in the middle of the action, without moving you from your seat or too close to your subject. You can literally be apart of the event, even if you are physically far away. 

telephoto lens for parents moms kids action photography canada

Yet, there are some things to keep in mind when using a telephoto lens.

Here are my Tips and Tricks for Using a Telephoto Zoom Lens when it comes to stabilization and where to focus:

  • Stabilize Your Image

When using a telephoto zoom lens, because of their length they can be difficult to hold steady for even the stillest of hands. Try these techniques to stabilize the camera for a clear and crisp image. This can be done in a number of ways:

  • Brace Yourself
    • If you are on the go and do not have the below items available to you, try to brace yourself against a wall or table of sorts so that there is as little movement as possible when you focus and snap your photo.
  • Tripods
    • Whenever possible you should use a tripod when using a zoom lens of any type. Many people prefer to shoot freehand without a tripod for easy movement, however, you are going to notice very blurry images with these lenses when shooting freehand. Using a tripod will stabilize the camera on its own so that images come out well-focused.
  • Shutter Release
    • Even when on a tripod, your hand pressing the shutter button causes movement that the sensors will pick up. You can purchase a shutter release remote inexpensively online. They offer ones with cords, as well as wireless battery operated shutter release remotes. Using this in unison with a tripod will allow for even more stabilization with your camera and lens. Simply plug it in, or pair it with your camera and you now control the shutter from the touch of a button while not touching your camera.
  • Using the Image Stabilization Option
    • On many zoom lenses there will be a “stabilization” button, similar to the auto focus/manual focus button. It’s a good idea to keep this on while holding the camera to take photos, however if you are using a tripod you may want to turn this off. The sensors used to detect movement and stabilize the camera can actually incorrectly detect movement and create a not so sharp image when on a tripod. For the best images with a tripod, keep it off. When using it without it being still, rather in your hand or on the go, keep it on.
  • Isolate your subject

When using a zoom lens you want to be sure that you do not have too much excess background in the image. Crop your subject in with the least amount of background as possible when focusing your camera. Taking an image from too far back may result in an image in just decent focus rather than a closer image that is crisp and well-focused. Isolating your subject in the frame will allow for a sharper, closer and more powerful image.

 photograph a cheer competiton canonl


Do you have a telephoto lens? Share your experience! 



    1. I don’t use mine that much, it’s a bother to lug around. I have probably the cheapest one on the market, yet mainly use it for video most times. that being said, it’s old and finicky …. I’d suggest going to a mid-line at least to be honest with you, since the body and lens are heavier than a point and shoot. Better to go for the value for the money and get one you know will last.

  1. I’ve always loved your photos, especially your tips on taking them. I so appreciate them!

  2. did not know most of this but nice to know now. thanks for the review. Something to look into.

  3. My son is now into photography and he has a a shutter release remote too, saves a lot of unfocused photos. Your photos are fantastic, especially the last one 🙂 These tips will no doubt come in very handy for people doing photography.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! A shutter release is next on my list of must-buys, if only to get in the photo myself. I need to, there’s been a lot of vacations where I haven’t been in one single photo …

  4. I hear ya on the telephoto lens. I use one for all of my travel photography and it makes SUCH a difference in my photos!! Your pics are awesome, thanks for sharing your tips!!

  5. You take amazing photo’s. One day I will have a camera with all the latest. Right now Mom of 3 girls and budget friendly is a must. I bookmarked this however since a girl can dream 🙂

    1. Thank you Laura, you are too kind. I’ve always had a ‘better than average’ camera, because I love photography so much. It’s like my hubby and his bikes! ha!
      Yet, you can use this lens on the standard Canon too, keep that in mind – no expensive body is needed!

  6. Thanks so much for these great tips! I recently got a telephoto lens, and I’ve been having a bit of a time with it.

  7. Wow, I’m so impressed with your photos. Looks like an amazing lens! Going to have to check it out!

  8. I have never used a telephoto lens, but I can really appreciate the way they capture the moment. Love your pictures!

  9. I got a telephoto lens about a year ago. My daughter was in a play at school and I missed some great photos because I had the wrong lens! great tips!

  10. To be honest I’m not all that talented with taking pictures. I just bought a new and fancier camera with different lens so hopefully I can learn how to use it.

    1. I try to always improve, always adding the disclaimer that I’m not a professional but like to practice to get better!

  11. What great tips. I had no clue you could get a remote for the shutter. Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Oh my, this last shot is pretty cool. I have to learn more about it. I do have a lens, but I haven’t had the time to play with it yet

  13. I’m a Nikon girl myself, but have had the 70/200mm f/2.8 lens on my wish list for a while. But, it’s so expensive! At least for Nikon it is. I love your photos!

    1. And I know very little about Nikons, tried once with the best of the best – but couldn’t get the ‘hang’ of it.

  14. I’m hoping to pull out my zoom lens for my son’s baseball game. I’ve never used it, but would love to try! Thank you for these tips!!

  15. You had me as soon as you said cheerleading competitions. We are always trying to get those great shots and it is so hard, even with the lens I have now. I have to get my hands on one of these.

  16. I use mine all the time to take pictures of animals and nature mostly. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Great tips here, by the way.

  17. Gorgeous photos! You can really catch some memorable moments this way that you might otherwise miss.. There is real benefit to investing in a GOOD quality camera!

  18. My son and husband are getting in to photography so I need to learn a few things myself. I’ve always wanted to take some really great pictures too.

  19. That’s a good choice of lens. I have the “big brother” the 2.8 version. I love it and it’s great for sports but it’s very heavy. For a lighter telephoto lens I have the Canon 135 f2. It’s similar in size to the lens you have but better in low light. It’s one of my favourite lenses.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *