Telephoto Lens Power Compared to Binoculars

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by basaltd, May 18, 2005.

  1. basaltd

    basaltd Guest

    How do I figure out how powerful a telephoto lens for a digital SRL is?
    How do the millimeters given related to powers given for telescopes
    and binoculars?

    What telephoto lens provides 5X, 7X, 10X, 15X, 25X, 50X, 150X, and even
    250X? What is the largest power of telephoto lens commercially
    avialable? What is the most popular size? What is the most popular
    size for birding?

    John Freck
    basaltd, May 18, 2005
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  2. For full frame 35mm images you can take the focal length of the lens and
    divide it by about 47.5 to give you a number that is somewhat comparable.
    but they are really not the same thing and you can't really do a comparison.

    The most powerful telephoto lens commonly available is going to be
    something around 1,200 mm to maybe 5,000 and will cost more than a $1.00 per
    mm, often much more.

    Considering that Hubble is a commercially made camera lens as are many
    observatories you can get some very large ones.

    Bird photography would normally start in the 1,200mm range, or you work
    from a blind where you may do well with say a 200 mm.
    Joseph Meehan, May 18, 2005
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  3. basaltd

    chrlz Guest

    Yep, for a *full-frame* 35mm SLR you divide the focal length of the
    lens by 50 to give a rough approximation of the equivalent power of

    So, to get the equivalent magnification of 7x binocs on a full-frame
    SLR, you would need about a 350mm telephoto (7x50).

    But then you have to take into account the crop factor on most DSLRs,
    so in fact, if you had say a 1.5 crop, then you would only need about

    (And even if I got all that right, it is further complicated by the
    differeing field-of-views that you get, depending on the
    binoc/telescope design..)

    So it's a bit tricky to generalise..
    chrlz, May 18, 2005
  4. I feel I should add a little to my comments.

    The human eye and brain are marvelous tools. When you look though a
    pair of binoculars you often select just a small part of the total image and
    you see it in far more detail than you might imagine. You can even see the
    effect using the old paper tube trick like you did as a kid. Things really
    did look larger and more detailed using one. That is because your brain
    only focused on the subject and was not distracted. The camera can not do
    the same thing. So you will generally need a more powerful telephoto lens
    to record the same detail you see with a less powerful pair of binoculars.
    Joseph Meehan, May 18, 2005
  5. basaltd

    Alan Browne Guest

    A "1X" (for 1.5X cropped sensor) would be roughly 35mm.

    A 9X would be a 300mm lens.

    The above refers to field of view rather than magnification, as the
    prints you make at various enlargements are another stage of magnification.

    Hope that helps. Go to a birding website for advice on binoculars and
    cameras lenses.

    Alan Browne, May 18, 2005
  6. basaltd

    \Lou\ Guest

    Well, now I'm confused (but what's new). Are you saying that the 1.5X
    factor for digital cameras does not give the same magnification at the
    equivalent lens length for film cameras. For instance a 300mm lens
    magnification on a 35mm film camera would not be basically the same as a
    200mm on a digital. Are you saying that this equivalency only applies to
    FOV? I've never really understood the true comparison of lens on both types
    of cameras.
    \Lou\, May 18, 2005
  7. basaltd

    jimkramer Guest

    Nope, backwards....

    Should help clarify it for you.

    Jim Kramer
    jimkramer, May 18, 2005
  8. basaltd

    \Lou\ Guest

    So as I understand the example you posted is that the only thing that
    changes is the FOV, ie the image is cropped but the actual magnification of
    the image remains the same.
    \Lou\, May 18, 2005
  9. basaltd

    jimkramer Guest

    Only the FOV changes, "magnification" is subjective unless you are
    specifically talking about the actual image that is projected by the lens on
    to the film/sensor and then yes, the magnification remains the same.

    I'm not trying to be obtuse or overly wordy but many of people seem to have
    problems with this so I'd like to be clear.

    jimkramer, May 18, 2005
  10. basaltd

    Alan Browne Guest


    Put it this way: a given lens on 35mm film camera produces an image
    circle that is a bit over 43mm in dia. just fitting the diagonal of the
    35mm fram (36x24). So a moose some distance away makes (eg) a 5mm tall
    moose on the film.

    Same lens on a cropped sensor: the image is still a bit over 43mm in
    diameter. But the sensor is now smaller (say 28m dia for a 1.5x crop).
    So only that smaller bit gets recorded.

    The moose over yonder still makes a 5mm tall moose on the sensor.

    So, for that the magnification is the same.

    But, if you print both the film version and the digital image of the
    full frame to, say an 8x10, then you will end up with a bigger moose on
    the digital version. as the enlargement factor would 1.5X greater.

    Is that clearer or muddier?

    Alan Browne, May 18, 2005
  11. basaltd

    Paul Bielec Guest

    Is that clearer or muddier?

    Depends how much Moose Head he had...
    Paul Bielec, May 18, 2005
  12. basaltd

    Alan Browne Guest

    I didn't know you were that kinky...
    Alan Browne, May 18, 2005
  13. basaltd

    Paul Bielec Guest

    Kinky? What's kinky about beer?
    Paul Bielec, May 18, 2005
  14. basaltd

    Alan Browne Guest

    "Moose head"
    Alan Browne, May 18, 2005
  15. basaltd

    Matt Clara Guest

    LOL. You used to be so reserved, too!
    Matt Clara, May 19, 2005
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