Lenses For SLR and DSLR Cameras - Types of Lenses - Zoom Lenses

Zoom Lenses

The focal length of a zoom lens is not fixed; instead it can be varied between a specified minimum and maximum value. Modern lens technology is such that the loss of image quality in zoom lenses (relative to non-zoom lenses) is minimal, and zoom lenses have become the standard lenses for SLRs and DSLRs. This is different from the late 1980s when, due to image quality concerns, most professional photographers still relied primarily on standard non-zoom lenses. However, zoom lenses still typically have a lower maximum aperture than fixed-focal ("prime") lenses for the same weight and cost, especially for shorter focal lengths.

Zoom lenses are often described by the ratio of their longest to shortest focal lengths. For example, a zoom lens with focal lengths ranging from 100 mm to 400 mm may be described as a 4:1 or "4×" zoom. Typical zoom lenses cover a 3.5× range, for example from 24 – 90 mm (standard zoom) or 60 – 200 mm (telephoto zoom). "Super-zoom" lenses with a range of 10× or even 14× are becoming more common, although the image quality does typically suffer a bit compared with the more traditional zooms.

The maximum aperture for a zoom lens may be the same (constant) for all focal lengths, but it is more common that the maximum aperture is greater at the wide-angle end than at the telephoto end of the zoom range. For example, a 100 mm to 400 mm lens may have a maximum aperture of f/4.0 at the 100 mm end but will diminish to only f/5.6 at the 400 mm end of the zoom range. Zoom lenses with constant maximum apertures (such as f/2.8 for a 24-70mm lens) are usually reserved for lenses with higher build quality and are thus more expensive than those with variable maximum apertures.

Read more about this topic:  Lenses For SLR And DSLR Cameras, Types of Lenses

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