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Old Aug 8, 2003, 6:35 PM   #1
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Default Cheap SLR lenses still better than high-end P&S lenses?

In your experience, are cheap SLR lenses - such as the Canon 75-300mm USM non-IS, Nikon's G lens lineup, etc. - still better than any high-end prosumer digicam lens? High-end prosumer digicams would be models such as Minolta 7Hi, Sony F717, Canon G5, Nikon CP5700. Also, I'm more interested in comparisons of Contrast, Sharpness, & Resolution.

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Old Aug 9, 2003, 10:46 AM   #2
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On what Nikon body? A D100? Or are you talking film cameras (to make the price closer together.)

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Old Aug 9, 2003, 11:20 AM   #3
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FYI

We've just touched on this subject over here:
http://www.stevesforums.com/phpBB2/v...934&highlight=

The more important question is how do you value convenience and portability of an all-in-one vs a larger/heavier but faster dSLR system? Click on my gallery link below to see the difference between the different cameras (10D & D7) in the EXIF.
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Old Aug 10, 2003, 10:36 AM   #4
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The "simple" answer is no. Actually, most upper end fixed lens prosumer cameras have excellent lenses. They really must be good to provide the user will quality images from less than optimal processing (the electronics and sensor of the camera itself).

The higher the resolution of the capture and wider the field of view, the more quality you will need in a lens. Lenses like the Carl Zeiss designed Sonar in the Sony DSC-F717 are really quite good. The lens is usually not the weak link.

On the other hand, mediocre lenses on a six megapixel or greater resolution dSLR will definitely show their faults. A lens which may produce satisfactory results with my D30 (three megapixel) can be absolutely horrible with my 11 megapixel 1DS.

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Old Aug 10, 2003, 3:44 PM   #5
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... and now on to the not the so 'simple' answer and also true to the 10D, since it has the same smaller image circle (with a 1.6x factor) that crops out the periphery part of a lens that tend to show its worse on measurements! A 17-35mm Sigma than tends to show up its fault on a full-frame SLR, produces quite amazing results on the 10D and comparable to my D7 at full 28mm with relatively free CA...
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Old Aug 10, 2003, 5:40 PM   #6
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Default Re: Cheap SLR lenses still better than high-end P&S lens

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Originally Posted by The_Oz
In your experience, are cheap SLR lenses - such as the Canon 75-300mm USM non-IS, Nikon's G lens lineup, etc. - still better than any high-end prosumer digicam lens? High-end prosumer digicams would be models such as Minolta 7Hi, Sony F717, Canon G5, Nikon CP5700. Also, I'm more interested in comparisons of Contrast, Sharpness, & Resolution.
Unfortunately, this question has no simple "yes" or "no" answer. because it really depends on the SLR lens and the high-end P&S digicam under consideration. Moreover, it also depends on the meaning of "cheap" and the focal length being used.

All companies manufacture very "cheap" zoom lenses under $100.00. These lenses are not sharp enough even with film, and cannot be good enough for 4mp or higher resolution P&S cameras. Why? To cut cost, lens designers will not apply all of their tricks to correct the physical deficiencies such as spherical aberration, coma, chromatic aberration, and will use a simple design without fewer and cheaper optical glass elements and mechanical components. These lenses may be OK when they are used with 1mp or 2mp, or maybe up to 3mp digital camera. When the resolution gets higher, the optical flaws will show up quickly. However, it does not mean all "cheap" lenses are bad. Some cheap ones are really jewels. A good example is Nikon's 50mm F1.8, which costs about $100.00 with a hard-to-beat (or even impeccable) optical quality. If we compare this jewel against any high-end P&S digicam, IMO, this 50mm F1.8 beats them all. Is this comparison fair? Of course not, because we also need to factor in zoom range.

In general, most zoom lenses have better quality in the shorter end and get worse in the longer end. There are exceptions, though. Many new wide Nikon zoom lenses have better optical quality in the longer end rather than the shorter end (e.g., 12-24mm F4 DX and 17-35mm F2.8 ). Moreover, optical quality gets worse when zoom ratio increases. Additionally, when we compare SLR lenses and high-end P&S digicam lenses, we have to compare the same focal range, or more precisely the same angle of view. This, actually, will cause difficulties because (1) most high-end P&S digicams have high ratio zoom lenses (e.g., 5X, 7X, 8X, 10X and even 12X), and (2) these lenses usually start from 35mm with only a few exceptions (e.g., Minolta D7* starts with 28mm). On the other hand, due to a larger image size, SLR lenses are much larger and, as a result, more expansive. Due to the same reason, modern large ratio SLR zoom lenses usually starts at 28mm or even 24mm, which is not commonly seen in high-end P&S digicams. For example, the popular ones are Tamron 28-200mm, Tamron 28-300mm, Tokina 24-200mm, Tamron 24-135mm, Sigma 24-135mm, and Nikon 24-120mm. Canon, Minolta and Pentax also have similar lenses. Except for the Minolta D7*, none of the other high-end P&S digicams can reach this range due to the smaller image size factor. So, as you can see, it is very difficult to compare a SLR lens, cheap or not, against a high-end P&S digicam lens, because one may not find lenses with the same coverage. If we choose two lenses with different focal length coverages and test at some fixed focal lengths, the comparison cannot be fair because optical quality depends on the focal length being used. By the way, the sensor behind a lens also plays a vital role. Most D-SLR cameras have much better sensors than those used in a high-end P&S digicams.

Now, get back to your 70-300 example. I am sure it beats almost every high-end P&S digicam lens in the range of 70-200mm with resolution up to 4mp (or maybe 5mp). In the 200-300 range, I believe it is perhaps above average or average, and may not be as good as Nikon's 5700 around 200-280mm. I also believe the 70-300mm Canon may be similar or slightly worse than the Sony 717 in the 70-150 range. Since I don't own this lens, my experience comes from my impression of using Nikon's mid-level 70-300G. By the way, not all Nikon G lenses are cheap ones. The 24-85G and 18-35G are very good and the 70-200G VR is amazing.

CK
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