I wanted to ask that once you have purchased a lens of say 18-200mm, then is it required to purchase other lenses — say 24-70mm, 24-105mm, 18-105mm, 28-135mm,etc.

Does 18-200mm lens satisfy all the needs of the above lenses? for example: Can it focus at 18-105mm or 28-135mm ranges effectively?

  • \$\begingroup\$ The focal distance has nothing to do with focusing at those distances. The camera can (should be able to) focus at any point in its focal range. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 8:51
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Some worthwhile reading material: Why prefer the 18-55mm and 55-250mm lenses vs 18-200mm?, Will a high-quality zoom lens provide near equal image quality compared to primes? and a number of other questions already on the site. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 9:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ Get some fast primes and dump the cheap zooms. I guarantee your photos will get better. \$\endgroup\$
    – user4894
    Commented Oct 21, 2014 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @user4894 Note that maytray isn't asking about how to increase the quality. The question is if the 18-200 covers the same range as a couple of other zooms and if having it makes the other zooms unneccesary to buy. Sure fast primes can do things the zoom can not, but they can never cover the same range and there are certainly situations where they are worthless since you won't have time to switch lenses and you will miss the shot. Hence you can't guarantee that the photos will turn out better. Also the photographer does the important part in most photography, not the gear. \$\endgroup\$
    – Hugo
    Commented Oct 22, 2014 at 7:51

4 Answers 4


You are not required to purchase any lenses at all. It all depends on your photography needs and what you're willing to spend your money on.

Regarding range, the superzoom 18-200 mm covers the same range as the other four lenses you mentioned. All of the other lenses focal ranges are parts of the large range of the 18-200 mm lens. The 18-200 can surely acquire focus at all focal lengths in it's range (as far as I know there are no zooms that can't lock focus in certain parts of it's range).

There are other factors and characteristics of a lens that matters to some photographers, otherwise lenses such as primes that can be a lot more expensive than the not so expensive 18-200 mm wouldn't exist. Some of these factors are hard or even impossible to achieve in a superzoom and if it could be done, the lens would be prohibitively expensive.

Some characteristics that are important in lenses other than the focal length range are:

  • Image quality - there are many aspects regarding quality that can make a huge difference to the final result. In some of these aspects superzooms are definitely lacking compared to more moderately ranged zooms and especially prime lenses.
  • Maximum aperture, this is important to control depth of field and a large maximum aperture lets you to create bokeh and let more light in. In a zoom lens a constant maximum aperture is helpful since you don't have to change the exposure settings all the time in manual mode when zooming.
  • Minimum focusing distance - lenses with a short minimum focusing distance are usually more expensive, but depending how short that distance is it potentially lets you take macro photographs.
  • Build quality - there can be a huge difference in quality and feel between cheap lenses and more expensive ones. Zoom and focus rings are usually a lot smoother, the plastics are of higher quality and there are extra features added such as focus range indicators and range limiters on the expensive lenses. Some lenses don't change length when zooming, a feature usually preferred. Also a front element that doesn't turn when focusing and zooming can be helpful, especially when using gradual filters.
  • Focusing speed - a fast focusing speed can let you catch moments that you otherwise couldn't (or at least not as easily). However the focusing speed doesn't entirely depend on the lens and the camera body plays a part in it too.
  • Focusing technology - There are different motors that are used to move the focusing elements of the lens and some of them are louder than others. Among the more expensive ones are stepper motors and ultrasonic motors which both have there benefits compared to the cheaper ones (and each other). Some lenses change length when focusing and others, internal focusing lenses, does not.
  • Image stabilization - this feature lets you take sharp photos at lower shutter speeds.
  • Weight and size - lenses with large focal length ranges as well as large apertures can get heavy, the 70-200 mm f/2.8 are great examples of this, usually with a weight of around 1.5 kg. Some lenses are built in very compact sizes, pancake lenses being a great example of this.
  • Sensor coverage - some cheaper superzoom lenses such as the 18-200 mm are designed to be used on crop sensor cameras. There are many different sizes of consumer DSLR sensors and they are usually represented as the crop factor that you need to apply when cropping a full frame sensor (the name of the standard 35 mm frame of a film camera). A lens that is designed to only shed light over a cropped sensor can't be used on a full frame (it won't cover the entire sensor). There are also a lot larger formats than the full frame, such as medium or large format cameras and their lenses has to be able to shed light over the entire frame.

Also different lenses have different warranties and quality controls and even if this doesn't necessarily improve the lens as such it can be important to the photographer.

Together they can explain why some lenses are 10 times more expensive than others with seemingly close specifications. Since there are so many different aspects of a lens, every single one that you can buy in the stores are a result of the art of balance between different factors, with price usually being a highly limiting one.

This doesn't mean that you have to buy the other lenses. In fact I recommend that you don't until you know what your needs are and especially that your current gear is insufficient.


In a word: no. The 18-200mm will suffice. And a single lens is very convenient. However, there may be advantages (mainly in picture quality) in purchasing some other lenses. But remember more lenses can be cumbersome. What you need really depends on what sort of thing you do.

From experience I would offer this advice. Stick with your one zoom for now. After taking several hundred pictures, decide which shots you like best, or enjoyed taking the most. Then from these look to see which focal lengths you used. You may be surprised to find that almost all were taken at or around a certain focal length, 35mm for instance, in which case you may then look into buying a better quality zoom around that focal-length (24-70mm for example) or even a 35mm prime. Or you may find that you use the whole range of the zoom; in which case you'll know you already have the right lens for you.

When I did this many years ago, I found that I almost exclusively used the 28-35mm range of my zoom. I then concentrated on buying the best quality lenses I could afford in that narrow range. This approach has served me well.

In essence I suggest letting experience guide your future purchases (rather than trying to guess your needs, or basing them on what others recommend).


Some reasons to get lenses with overlapping focal ranges:

  • Larger aperture (allows shorter exposure times in low light conditions, and shallower depth of field)
  • Macro capability (focusing at shorter distance, thus allowing frame-filling shots of small subjects)
  • Better image quality
  • Faster autofocus
  • Smaller size, lower weight
  • \$\begingroup\$ Might be with saying explicitly that superzooms are always a compromise in one way or another \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 15, 2014 at 11:04

If you don't know what lenses you need and why, don't buy anything. That goes for any camera equipment. The variety of equipment available is immense, as is the range of what it can do and what it is suited for. When you are unhappy with your current equipment, then look into equipment that will solve your then-current issues.

I used an 18-200 until the image quality and speed issues were limitations, then I migrated to the more expensive shorter range and prime lenses.

There is no magic bullet to being a better photographer.


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