How Far Can a 600mm Lens See?

A 600mm super-telephoto lens can see very far, to the point that it can photograph the moon or other planets. If you’re wondering how far it can effectively zoom and focus, the answer is about 12 times as far as the human eye.

I’m Caleb, and I’ve been a photographer for more than four years. My specialty is sports photography, and I’ve shot games ranging from the semi-pro to college level.

In this article, I’ll look at 600mm super-telephoto lenses and explain just how much extra range they can give you. If you’re wondering how effective these large and expensive lenses really are, keep reading for the full details.

How Far Can a 600mm Lens See?

It’s not really effective to measure how far a 600mm lens can literally see. After all, most of your lenses are probably capable of seeing the moon in the night sky, and that’s over 238,000 miles away.

What you probably mean to ask is: “What is the zoom distance of a 600mm lens?

If you get one of these lenses, you’ll be able to zoom about twelve times further than a 50mm lens. To give you an idea of how far that is, a 50mm lens is sometimes considered the closest equivalent to the human eye.

There’s some debate about whether this is actually accurate. But we can probably assume that a 50mm lens is close enough to the human eye to work for this comparison.

In other words, a 600mm lens is really good at getting close-up pictures of things that are far away from you. In a way, it can see twelve times further than you can.

What is a 600mm Lens Useful for?

600mm lenses are useful for a lot of things. For one, they come in handy when you want to stay further away from your subject.

In nature photography, for example, you might need to stay away from the animals to keep them from getting scared and running away. For some animals, like certain types of birds, a longer lens is basically a necessity when photographing them.

Sports photographers also have uses for such long lenses. Some venues require photographers to stand far away from the action itself, making a long-distance lens a requirement for getting close-up shots.

In racing, photographers generally stay a reasonable distance away from the track and use longer lenses to avoid the dangers of getting close to such fast cars.

Sometimes, there’s just no way to get closer to your subject. For example, you might want to take a picture of the moon. Since you obviously can’t get closer to the moon (unless you’re an astronaut), your only option to get a zoomed-in picture is to use a longer lens.

600mm super-telephoto lenses are very expensive compared to their shorter counterparts. But if you have one of the specific needs they cater to, they can be indispensable to your photography.


Here are some other questions about 600mm lenses and super-telephoto lenses in general.

What Size Lens Do I Need For Bird Photography?

You don’t quite need a 600mm lens for all bird photography, but having one with a focal length of 300mm or higher is a good idea. The most popular bird photography lenses are around 500mm.

How Do You Carry A Super-Telephoto Lens?

The best method for carrying a camera with a super-telephoto lens is keeping one hand on the camera body and using your other hand to support the lens. Using a monopod when stationary can also help you manage the increased weight.


A 600mm lens can see around twelve times as far as a standard 50mm lens, making it very useful for the kinds of photography where the subject is distant.

Have you ever used a super-telephoto lens before? What is the longest lens in your own collection? Let us know in the comments.

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