In the Canon Rebel T3i Manual, page 59, it's mentioned that "If you have a zoom lens, use the telephoto end to fill the frame with the subject from the waist up." Same note on page 61 and another one for landscape telling to use the "wide angle end".

I have EF-S 18-55 mm IS II lens which is a zoom lens. I've googled "telephoto end or wide-angle end", but all the results were lenses not an end. I don't know if I got it wrong but I thought that "end" would mean something that can be mounted on my zoom lens itself.


3 Answers 3


'End' in this case is just referring to the end of the zoom range available. So zooming in on an 18-55 lens would take you to the 55mm end of the zoom range, which would be the telephoto end, and the 18 mm end of the zoom range would be the wide angle 'end' (although on this lens the telephoto end isn't very telephoto). So while it may sound like a physical 'end' they're referring to, it's just the ends of the zoom range of the lens they are referring to

  • \$\begingroup\$ Akram, thank you for asking this question. You are not alone. I got here by reading my manual for my T3i a few minutes ago and being just as confused! Thanks for clarifying, Dreamager. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anita4409
    Mar 20, 2013 at 20:31

The "telephoto end" of the 18-55mm lens, for example, means the 55mm setting. The "wide end" is the 18-mm setting. For a 70-200mm lens, the "wide end" would be 70mm and the "telephoto end" would be 200. For a 10-22mm, the wide end would be 10mm and the telephoto end 22 - insofar as we can talk of the "telephoto end" on what is an ultrawide zoom lens.

It's a bit of a colloquialism frankly. Calling it the "long end" and the "wide end" would do just as well, and does not invite confusion with a "telephoto lens" which has a very specific meaning concerning the actual optical construction of the lens in question. Anyway, as used the terms just mean the extremes of the zoom range of whatever lens you are using.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, I tend to use long end/short end for precisely this reason. Also, it feels weird calling the short end of a 70-300 lens "wide" or the long end of a 17-50 "tele". \$\endgroup\$ Mar 21, 2013 at 8:54

A zoom lens has a zoom range within which you can adjust the zoom. When they say end, they are referring to either end of the zoom range - the point after which you can turn the zoom control no further in that direction.

Zoomed all the way "in" = telephoto end of the zoom range

Zoomed all the way "out" = wide end of the zoom range

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, but I think often (like in the quote from the manual given in the question), the intended meaning is at or near the actual end. Like the "deep end of the pool" -- it doesn't mean right up against the edge, but the whole area near the that end. \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 21, 2013 at 3:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yes indeed. In the original context, the advice about using the telephoto end for portraits is somewhat of a general guideline, not an indication that only the very end will do - indeed if you have a crazy superzoom like an 18-200, then around 70-130 might be good for portraits. Another thing to note is that common zoom lenses sometimes become a little softer as you get close to their telephoto end. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 23, 2013 at 6:47

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