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I've heard that zoom lenses after some intensive usage become "sticky" and difficult to operate. What's the aproximate durability for a zoom lens like a Canon EF-S 18-135, shooting ca. 1000 - 2000 shots a month?

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    Depends massively on how much care you take with the lens. – Philip Kendall Dec 5 '14 at 9:54
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    Plus, you can have it re-oiled or bearings replaced if they get truly worn out. – Itai Dec 5 '14 at 14:37
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    And depends on the temperature, humidity, air pollution level ... – TFuto Dec 5 '14 at 15:01
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    Quick informal survey: who here shoots 1000-2000 photos/month and has yet to wear out a lens? I bet a lot of people will raise their hand. – Dan Wolfgang Dec 5 '14 at 15:15
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    @FlyingTrashcan - I neither take good care of my lenses nor get them professionally cleaned. I also take over 2,000 photos a month. My equipment works great. I bought camera equipment to use(and abuse). I may pay the price someday in broken equipment, but I don't mind that as I'd rather use it to suit my needs. – dpollitt Dec 5 '14 at 17:01
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There is no approximate durability. It depends on many factors.

If durability is important to you, beyond proper care I would recommend a Canon L series lens that is weather sealed and likely is made of longer lasting materials. See this for much more information: What makes a camera 'weather sealed'?

Also: What is the difference between Canon "L" lenses and non-L lenses?

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    Anecdotally speaking, that lens is an entry level zoom and I wouldn't expect miracles out of it. Although 1-2k shots per month is completely reasonable and it should easily last years if you take fair care of it. The Canon "L" series lenses that I have I don't take care of really at all and they have so far lasted me quite a few years shooting well over 2k shots per month each. – dpollitt Jan 1 '15 at 17:17
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This is entirely too variable to give a meaningful answer to. Higher quality lenses will last longer under the same usage criteria. But an abused high quality lens won't last as long as a well cared for cheap lens. (Although I suppose some might argue that many cheap lenses effectively come broken from the factory.)

Additionally, lenses don't just become sticky. In fact, many modes of failure are actually the opposite, a lens stops holding its focus point or focal length when angling the camera. This results in settings drifting. The lens becomes too loose.

Ideally, you want a lens that moves smoothly, but stays where you put it. Too sticky or too loose are both problems. This is why I say some would argue cheap lenses come broken from the factory because cheaper lenses don't hold focus or focal length particularly well and will go out of position if you point the camera up or down briefly.

  • Hahah broken from the factory. I haven't heard that one yet, I like it. – dpollitt Dec 5 '14 at 16:59

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