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Why do bridge/semipro/superzoom camera manufacturers keep increasing the telephoto end rather than the wide-angle end?

For example, the Nikon P900 has a 35 mm-equivalent focal length of 24 to 2000 mm. For the same 83x zoom, I'd rather have e.g. 12 to 1000 mm equivalent!

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2 Answers 2

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The biggest factor that I can think of is cost and complexity around the lens design. Lens focal lengths that are shorter than the distance from the lens mount to the sensor (flange-focal distance) need to be designed with what amounts to reverse telephoto (retrofocus) lens at the end in order to make up the distance and the complexity level of that gets much greater as the spread between the focal length and flange-focal distance grows. Getting it really wide without going fisheye gets really hard and really expensive and you can't go fisheye on a superzoom.

Now, the P900 is a bridge camera and so they have the ability to bring that distance in, but then you're balancing against other considerations such as the telephoto end. The wide end is actually a real focal length of 4.3mm which is already a very short focal length even on a mirrorless body and it's a pretty complex lens construction of 16 elements in 12 groups. So, I think what you have there is the bang-for-the-buck trade-off that they have to make and a 24mm equivalent is still a pretty wide angle for most purposes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, John. Does that mean that if the lens doesn't need to be rectilinear (non-fisheye), it's much easier to have low focal lengths? Is there a way to be rectilinear down to e.g. 24 mm then smoothly transition to fisheye at e.g. 12 mm? \$\endgroup\$
    – Gnubie
    Apr 9, 2015 at 20:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Gnubie - Beyond a certain focal length on 35mm cameras, you'll notice that lenses tend to be fisheye and then people use defishing software to correct the distortion. The reason for this is that they drop the distortion correction lenses and that makes them less complex. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Apr 9, 2015 at 20:10
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The 1/2.3" sensor size's strength is in superzoom capability, not in image quality. If you are looking for a landscape focal length, this type of camera/sensor is a poor choice. Traditional APS-C or FF equivalent sensors will completely blow away this type of camera in image quality, ISO performance, dynamic range, RAW compatibility, light gathering, among other factors.

Manufacturers are building to this sensor sizes' strength- It has a 2000mm equivalent optical zoom with image stabilization. This is unheard of in mainstream lenses (not special order) for APS-C and FF cameras. Sure, you can buy a 800mm IS lens for 15K$ or so and crop, but its vastly more expensive, and very bulky.

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