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Old Feb 20, 2011, 10:15 PM   #1
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Default What makes a superzoom lense?

In regards to DSLR photography, I have seen several references to the idea that superzoom lenses are not as good as multiple lenses covering the same range, but that leads me to ask...what is a superzoom?

What ranges do they have? Would an 18-135mm lense be considered a superzoom? or does it have to go above and below a certain focal length?

For example, an 18-250mm lense covers a range of 232mm. A lens of 75-300mm covers 225mm. What makes the first one a "superzoom" and the second one not? Why would the first one have less image quality? Can someone explain this to me? Or am I completely wrong about the whole concept (entirely possible)

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Old Feb 20, 2011, 11:29 PM   #2
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The main difference is in the ratio of the minimum to maximum focal length. I think the generally accepted ratio is around 10 or more for a lens to be a superzoom. 75-300mm is a ratio of 4, and the 18-250mm is around 14.

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Old Feb 21, 2011, 2:01 AM   #3
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The quality available from 2-3x zooms is usually very close to primes, but usually at the expense of 1-2 stops of light loss at the same physical size.

4-5x zooms can usually give very good quality, but once again tend to lose an additional stop.

Anything up in the 10x range is horribly complicated, optically poor, often quite expensive and very slow. If you own an interchangeable lens camera it's hard to see the point.
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Old Feb 21, 2011, 10:39 AM   #4
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What makes a superzoom is a brainstorm in the marketing department.

While peripatetic is right about the quality and speed of the 10x zooms, they do have their place assuming you are not looking for the maximum quality in a photo, e.g., for web or newspaper use. I think of those as "Parade lenses". Switching lenses quickly and often in the dust is no fun. With a "supperzoom" you can zoom out to get the whole high school band and zoom in to get a close up of a clowns face. Not real high quality, but good enough for a 4x6" snapshot.
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Old Feb 21, 2011, 10:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillDrew View Post
What makes a superzoom is a brainstorm in the marketing department.

While peripatetic is right about the quality and speed of the 10x zooms, they do have their place assuming you are not looking for the maximum quality in a photo, e.g., for web or newspaper use. I think of those as "Parade lenses". Switching lenses quickly and often in the dust is no fun. With a "supperzoom" you can zoom out to get the whole high school band and zoom in to get a close up of a clowns face. Not real high quality, but good enough for a 4x6" snapshot.
Really, you can even do better with some superzooms. I've printed 11 x14 fine with a Nikon 18-200. I think for most purposes, and common usage (prints up to 8x10, web, social networking) a superzoom will work just fine. For critical applications/paid work, superzooms probably aren't the right choice. The issue I think is cost vs benefits. Most of the good ones are pretty expensive, and you really don't get a payback in image quality, just convenience. I bought mine with a body and got a $300 rebate, so it was worth it for me. I'm not sure spending $700+ for an ok lens is well spent money.
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Old Feb 21, 2011, 11:04 AM   #6
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I see that Canon makes a P&S with a 35x range. Is it a superzoom? Yes, if image quality doesn't matter. Canon also makes a P&S (SX1) with a range of 20x and it IS a superzoom in most respects. The real superzooms are those in the 6 to 10x range made for DSLR's and preferably apochromatic. I have a 100-300mm zoom that I use with a 1.4x teleconverter. For me, it's all I need for telephoto work. My 28 to 105mm takes care of the low end. Two lenses and a teleconverter to go from 28 to 420mm (42mm to 630mm equivelent in 35mm format).
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Old Feb 21, 2011, 9:15 PM   #7
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G'day comcom - et al

Without meaning to enflame things ... really Bill - you're not with it at all

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillDrew View Post
While peripatetic is right about the quality and speed of the 10x zooms, they do have their place assuming you are not looking for the maximum quality in a photo
Not real high quality, but good enough for a 4x6" snapshot.
After 40 years of SLR usage I have now gone to "superzoom" cameras and I love 'em
I regularly print to 20 inches wide, and people who come to my place and view my landscapes on the wall cannot believe I am not using an expensive dSLR

"4x6" snapshot" indeed !!!

Regards, Phil
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Old Feb 28, 2011, 9:15 AM   #8
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If you are happy with what the super zooms produce then great that is why they are made!
For the vast majority of snapshooters out there they are probably perfect!
The marketing departments would not have come up with them if there was not a ready market full of people to buy them up!

Personally I hope most people do buy and use them.
As for myself they are all about compromise and mediocrity.
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