What is a Telescopic Lens?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Useful in the professions of photography and cinematography, the telescopic lens is an attachment that helps to magnify distant objects. Following the same basic principle as the telescope, the attachment can be used to create attractive photographic art, as well as achieve dramatic close ups during the process of filming an entertainment production. The price of this type of lens may vary from the modest to the expensive, depending on the range and features included with the lens.

In general, telescopic lens attachments are purchased separately from the camera. Locking into place with a simple clip feature, it is actually a device that contains more than one lens in order to achieve the desired effect. Controls that are usually mounted around the cylinder of the lens allow the user to adjust the focus and distance of the device. This makes it possible to achieve crisp and clear resolutions that will result in high quality still and motion picture photography.

Initially, this attachment was only offered for use with high-quality cameras. By the 1960s, versions were developed for some of the more moderately priced lines of cameras. As the price of traditional film cameras began to drop with the development of disposable cameras, telescopic lenses that would work with several different makes and models of cameras began to appear.


A telescopic lens can allow the photographer to create several effects for the finished image. Some types will allow the creation of an image that has both the main object and the background in perfect focus. In other instances, the lens can be set to allow a crisp image of the main object, while blurring the background slightly for an enhanced focus on the subject of the picture.

Today, there are telescopic options that are manufactured for specific camera models and other lines that will function with a wide range of inexpensive cameras. More recently, a line of telescopic lens products have appeared that are designed to work with cellular phone cameras.


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