Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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What should I be aware of when buying a zoom lens (other than that it will fit my camera)? What specs should I pay close attention to?

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1  
Why the downvote? If the question is too vague, or too subject, state it, so that the site takes shape. Thats what this beta is for –  Dan McClain Jul 15 '10 at 20:37
    
Not a bad question ... I upvoted it for you. –  david Jul 15 '10 at 20:38
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Since you posted three mostly identical questions, I'll post three mostly identical comments. :) Research! See photozone.de for test results you can use to compare relatively similar units. –  esm Jul 15 '10 at 21:07
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So by "research" you mean don't ask questions, look at other places on the internet. Since that answer could be applied to any question on a StackExchange site it isn't really helpful. Especially if the purpose of SE sites is to establish a reference library of answers to questions. –  DJClayworth Oct 22 '10 at 17:56
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4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

One consideration (this is a generalization, but most generalizations are based on some facts) is that usually the longer the zoom range, the quality of the image will suffer. As an example, the mega-zooms (28-300mm for example) will usually result in softer images (especially at either end of the zoom range) than a lens with a narrower zoom range (such as 24-70mm).

In any case, look for real-world reviews and photo samples before making a purchase.

I really like the lens review section of FredMiranda.com for getting real-world reviews.

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On the other hand, often ultimate quality is not needed. Get the lens that's good enough for you. No need to satisfy everyone on the internet too. :) –  Reid Jul 15 '10 at 21:43
    
15 years ago when I was reading these kind of info there was a rule of thumb that optimum ZOOMs were 1:3... And obviously still the same today. –  Robert Koritnik Nov 11 '10 at 18:55
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  1. The zoom factor of course
  2. Aperture, if aperture value is low you will either be able to take better photo in darkness and/or do blur effect in lower focus distance
  3. Min. focus distance, you will not be able to take a correct shoot if subject is closer than this distance
  4. Weight depending of your need you might not want something too heavy

Each time you want to buy a lens, try to find some review on Internet !

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What about lens quality? –  DJClayworth Oct 22 '10 at 17:57
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If you know someone with the lens you are interested in, or a similar one, borrow and use it if you can. That goes way beyond reviews!

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Or rent one you're considering buying. Try before you buy. –  Winston Smith Nov 11 '10 at 22:02
    
Haven't done that myself, but it's another useful option. It's hard to know for sure if you like a lens unless you've actually used it for a while - you don't get that in the camera store! –  Grant Palin Nov 12 '10 at 4:32
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I'm a big fan of Thom Hogan's lens reviews. http://bythom.com/nikon.htm

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While this link may answer the question, it is better to include the essential parts of the answer here and provide the link for reference. Link-only answers can become invalid if the linked page changes. –  Francesco Sep 8 '12 at 6:26
    
@Francesco, I'm not sure how you propose copying the bulk of Thom Hogan's site into an answer. The entire value of this answer is "here is a good resource to look at". Did you even follow the link? Please downvote thoughtfully rather than reflexively. –  Reid Sep 11 '12 at 15:26
    
I didn't downvote, precisely because I know the value of the site. –  Francesco Sep 11 '12 at 18:42
    
@Francesco, my apologies in that case. –  Reid Sep 11 '12 at 18:46
    
No problem, no harm done no offence taken :) –  Francesco Sep 11 '12 at 19:24
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