Skip navigation

I am not a fan of zoom lenses.  So, why are all of my current lenses zooms?

There is little doubt that major progress has been made in the past decade regarding zoom lens design.  Perhaps the most common example of such progress is the availability of an increasing array of all-in-one zooms that incorporate wide-angle, normal, and telephoto focal lengths into a single lens barrel.  Some of these lenses are parfocal, and many feature low-dispersion, high-dispersion, or aspherical elements that noticeably improve image quality.  If one is willing to spend the requisite money, the sky is nearly the limit when it comes to high-end, exceptionally fast zooms.

Another reason zooms ostensibly have become so popular is the preponderance of digital SLRs with crop sensors.  For example, my preference is to shoot most of my work at a 35mm-equivalent of 24mm.  On my SLR with a 1.6x APS-C sensor, I need to shoot at 15mm to achieve the desired angle of view.  Whereas a 15mm rectilinear lens is typically a very expensive piece of equipment, current technology allows for the production of ultra-wide-angle zoom lenses at fairly reasonable cost to the photographer.  Hence, although I would prefer to shoot entirely with primes, I shoot with zooms.

I understand the common argument that limiting oneself to primes is akin to a painter limiting himself to a single paint brush.  The analogy is a poor one, but the point is clear.  Why prohibit oneself from a broader range of options?  My personal response is that shooting with primes feels right for me.  As much as I admire the technology behind zoom lenses, I find myself spending more time working on a potential image when I do not have to fiddle with a zoom ring.  There is nothing logical about this stance.  It is simply a matter of personal preference.  Indeed, I am debating taping the zoom barrel of my 11-18mm lens at 15mm.

I shot the image below at 43mm.  This focal length provided what I thought at the time to be the ideal angle of view given the limitations of available perspectives.  Obviously, zooms have their advantages.  Who would purchase a 43mm lens?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: