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The Use of Telephoto Lenses

by Isaac Rooks

The precise size of the telephoto lens used for this shot is hard to pin down. I've seen estimates ranging from 430-482 mm. Regardless, it was an unusually long telephoto lens and it yielded incredible results. In Intro to Cinema, Dr. Drew Casper tells students that entrances and exits are especially important, and few entrances in cinema's history can rival the mirage-like methodical advance of Sherif Ali (Omar Sharif). Ali appears suddenly as a pinpoint in the distance. A wide angle lens might have turned his approach into a mad dash, but the telephoto lens makes him appear to be hardly moving, even as he gets closer and closer. Suspense and anticipation are allowed to build masterfully, until Ali is suddenly upon Lawrence.

Lawrence of Arabia - Telephoto

The use of an extreme telephoto lens creates one of cinema's most iconic entrances.

from Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Creator: David Lean
Distributor: Columbia
Posted by Isaac Rooks