Over the years are you still a large zoom user?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by RaymondC, Sep 27, 2017.

  1. There is an ancient Nikon zoom lens sitting on my bookshelf, a 43-86 mm. A lot has changed in the last 25 years. Zoom lenses can no longer be considered second class compared to prime lenses. Both have evolved, especially with the mirrorless revolution, to highly corrected, multi-element designs. Emphasis has been placed on minimizing aberrations which are hard to correct in post, such as chromatic aberration, astigmatism and coma. At the same time compromises have been made with regard to distortion. It saves cost and mass to allow 1% to 3% distortion, which (e.g., Sony) can be corrected to less than 0.5% in firmware. Vignetting, not an aberration per se, can be almost perfectly corrected.

    Where once high quality lenses, such as the Leica Summicron and Zeiss Planar, kept elements to 6 or so, coatings and design have improved to the point that 14 or more elements have the same transmission. With more degrees of freedom, lenses can be designed to minimize internal reflections, hence sun spots and veiling flare. This is especially important with digital sensors, which are flat and highly reflective.

    The difference in image quality between high quality zoom lenses and comparable prime lenses is subtle at best. Prime lenses tend to be a stop or two faster, but that is more important for subject isolation against a background, rather than light gathering. With ISO ratings through the roof, you can shoot outside in moonlight at f/2.8. This quality comes at a price, with high-end zoom lenses from Sony, Canon and Nikon well into the $2000-$3000 bracket. Still, I can carry three zoom lenses and cover focal lengths from 16 mm to 200 mm at half the cost and weight of the prime lenses they replace.
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2017
    Jochen likes this.
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    I believe the pre AI 43-86 on my shelf goes back to the mid / late "60's. At the time, though I haven't used it in a couple of decades, it came in handy.
  3. This has been an interesting discussion and takes me back. I got into the news business my senior year in high school and made quite a few payments on my first F2/MD-2 and two Nikkor lenses.. Money being what it was my 'long' lens was a Sigma 80-200/3.5 macro zoom. I had access to some great glass through the 1000/11 mirror lens but a zoom was what I used most. I lost faith in them along the way but have picked up a couple of 80-200 Nikkors and a 300 recently and am enjoying them all over again. For portraits and such though the 105/2.5 is still superb. There are some things a zoom is never going to do as well. Last but not least is an 85-250 Nikkor KEH nearly gave me a while back. Manual focus and a great big honkin' bunch of steel, aluminum and all glass elements. It is 'hefty' to be sure but there is nothing else delivers images quite like it.

    Rick H.
  4. 24mm/28mm is the weakest focal length for a zoom .

    No longer, this is just out of date and I suggest wishful/hopeful thinking from someone who has primes rather than zooms. I have a good recent prime 24mm with IS and it is not better than either my 24-70 or 16-35mm zooms, apart from its nice small size.
  5. I stopped using zooms many years ago because I just got tired of toting them. If I needed one, I wouldn't mind carrying it, but not simply as a lens to have on a camera when I head out.

    The zoom vs prime debate will probably go on as long as film vs digital, but I found the quality of the cheap zooms often "good enough", and the IQ of the more expensive (and fast) zooms to be as sharp as most any prime lens. For me, a fast 90 - 105 prime is a good walk around lens for most occasions, and a Leica R 90 Elmarit is affordable and will mount easily to my Nikon w/ an adapter. You really can't beat that lens for bokeh, sharpness and overall IQ, and it is quite compact (although heavy w/ all the steel and glass in it) because the hood slides in and out as needed. You can get in quite close w/ it as well. Not a micro lens, but due to the Leica's high resolution you can often crop your shots and still get a micro-like effect.
  6. Allen Herbert said....

    Most serious photographers use a Mac. I do.


    I love hasty generalizations pulled out from one's backside... Paps.

    Paps, they also use a Leica.

    Even a fish has the sense to realize that this thing is not going to be the source of good nutrition (such lures are designed to catch noob fishermen at the store, not fish in the water).

    So why are you taking the bait? Julie.

    Paps likes the taste of the bait;) Love him.

    Its all about the photographer, little else, in the real world..

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