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The near-field intensity distributions of quantum-cascade lasers emitting at λ = 7.7 μm were investigated with a Gaussian telescope, comprising standard optical components together with a microbolometer focal plane array. Although the technique is operated at the diffraction limit, the quality of the near-field patterns obtained allows unambiguous determination of the lateral-mode structure of the laser even for individual laser pulses. The high quality of the recorded near-field intensity distribution allows us to calculate analytically the corresponding far-field intensity distributions, leading to an excellent match with measured far-field patterns. The present experimental technique allows fast and efficient characterization of the beam propagation properties of mid-infrared semiconductor lasers.