Zoom vs. fixed focal length lenses

Discussion in 'Photography' started by Fred Huint, Feb 7, 2004.

  1. Fred Huint

    Fred Huint Guest

    Hello all,

    I currently have a 50 mm and a 28 mm for my Manual focus Minolta.

    I'd like to expand my lens collection, but i've got a few questions first:
    - what the disadvantage of zoom lenses? I'm sure if there were none, no one
    would get fixed focal length lenses.
    - what would you recommend i should buy next: 17-35 mm (probably not since
    i've already got a 28mm), ~70-150 mm, 80-200 mm?
    - what's a macro lens? It's for thaking picture of tiny things like insects,
    right? is the term "macro" used for all lenses having a focal length
    comprised within a "macro" focal length range??
    - does anyone see why i shouldn't buy generic (tamron-style) lenses with a
    minolta adapter? my 28mm is a tamron and gives very decent results, but
    maybe there's some hidden problem i still don't know about.

    Fred Huint, Feb 7, 2004
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  2. Fred Huint

    Slingblade Guest

    Zooms have gotten better over the years...but at one time they were
    not as sharp as fixed focal versions. Also, it's usually hard to find
    a good zoom with as fast of an aperture as a fixed focal length, and
    if you do, they are usually expensive. Also, many zooms have a
    floating f-stop...meaning you might have a 28-135mm f2.8-f4.5. Which
    at 28mm it would be f2.8, but at 135mm it would be f4.5. This may not
    be a problem for some, but I do not like it myself. If I were to get
    a zoom, I'd want to make sure the aperture was constant for the entire
    zoom range.
    Well, if you want a good fixed focal length, get a 135mm. Then you'll
    have the most common lens collection for fixed...28mm, 50mm and 135mm.
    If you were to get a zoom...I'd say look at something like the
    70-150mm or 80-200mm you mention, providing they are fixed aperture
    Macro lenses are lenses capable of close focusing. Generally you will
    find lenses that are either dedicated macros, or zooms that allow you
    to macro, usually at one end or the other of the zoom range.
    If you already using tamron and getting good results, then I say go
    for it. Personally, I've always been a stickler for keeping with the
    brand of camera, but that's just a preference. I've heard many people
    praise 3rd party lenses. I suppose everyone couldn't be wrong.
    Slingblade, Feb 8, 2004
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  3. Fred Huint

    Jud McCranie Guest

    Often zooms aren't as good optically. Also, they're usually slower
    than fixed length lenses. Also, they're usually larger and heavier.
    I'd pick 80-200 of those (I have one), but my 35-105 is my favorite.
    Jud McCranie, Feb 8, 2004
  4. Fred Huint

    Norman Worth Guest

    The main problem I find with zooms is flare. Despite multicoatings, the
    large number of elements in zoom lenses make them prone to flare, especially
    in backlighted situations.
    Norman Worth, Feb 8, 2004
  5. Fred Huint

    Chris Guest

    The 70-210 I've been looking at is an f-stop 4. Guess I lucked out.
    I'll be getting either a 135 myself, or a 200. Maybe both depending on my
    financial situation. I've been comparing lenses and f-stops all weekend.
    I'm thorough. %-)
    I was going to ask Slingblade about macro lenses myself. Saves me the
    wasted keystrokes. ;-)

    The only macros on my list are a 50mm F3.5 FD with 52mm thread, and a
    70-210mm zoom F4 FD with 58mm thread. I lucked out, both in good condition
    and well under $200 price.
    I second that. As long as the lens functions, and you're happy with it, no
    reason to stick with a manufacturer's lens if you want to go
    bargain-hunting. Of course, I'm sticking with all manufacturer lenses this
    time around, but if I saw a really good deal, and knew the lens would fit my
    camera, you can bet I'd consider it.

    Good luck!
    Chris, Feb 8, 2004
  6. Fred Huint

    Chris Guest

    In my opinion, the disadvantage is in moving parts. The more of them you
    have, the more adjustments to make, and the more parts can wear down and/or
    break. I'm probably going with fixed lenses, atleast this time around.

    I'm talking long-term of course. Nothing should malfunction soon after
    purchase, but I like to plan for the contingency that I might be using my
    gear for a long time, and the less parts to them, the better, in my
    Your zoom should probably be in a range you are most likely to use for your
    preferred type of photography. What fixed length lenses do you make use of
    most? Go with something that encompasses these lengths as a base, and go
    from there. I've been looking at a 70-210mm zoom, as I figure it'll take
    into consideration most of the distance shots I'd ever make. I'll have a
    fixed 50mm and something wide-angle for closer shots.
    Slingblade answered you so well on macro, so I'll let his post explain it.
    Let me just say that most applications besides your standard focal length
    are special extras you may or may not need. Some lenses are better for
    other photographers. If you think you might use a macro lens, then buy one.
    But don't just buy one to have it, as they can be pretty costly in my
    experience as a shopper.
    No reason why not. If it fits, and you like the pictures you can take with
    it, buy it.
    I like alot of the websites that show you sample pictures taken with
    digicams for example. It'd be really nice if such a site were in place to
    provide sample photos taken with various lenses so you can see such effects
    before purchase. Of course, no reason why someone couldn't scan and email
    you a photo or two taken with such a lens.
    Chris, Feb 8, 2004

  7. On the other hand, maybe getting a lens in the range he does not
    currently have might be an advantage -- an opportunity to explore
    new types of photography that he hasn't had the chance to do.

    He might not enjoy it, but if one doesn't try, then we'd never
    know if we're missing something that we might enjoy.

    As an additional alternative for the OP, have you considered
    renting a couple of lenses for, say, a week or so? You might
    go for an ultra-wide angle (going down to 15 or 18mm), and a
    tele-lens in the range of 200 or 300mm -- maybe additionally
    a 35-105 zoom; after playing with those for a few days, you
    might be able to take a better decision, based on your own
    experience, and not in others' experiences (which may also
    be valuable, of course, but never as much as experiencing
    things ourselves).

    I myself have always been more inclined to long f (tele) type
    of photography -- originally (when I got my camera) I got two
    lenses -- a 35-70mm zoom, and a 70-300mm tele-zoom; but then,
    my brother convinced me of the joy of wide-angle photography,
    and I ended up getting an additional 17-35, which I've enjoyed
    considerably (I didn't change my habits -- I simply added a
    new possibility to them)


    Carlos Moreno, Feb 8, 2004
  8. Fred Huint

    Slingblade Guest

    That's the same 70-210 f4 that I have...it's a great lens. Other than
    my hood never fit tight on it, the only problem I ever had was some
    fungus behind the front element. About a year ago, I got bold and
    disassembled the front mount and cleaned it. So far...so good. I did
    strip out one of the screwheads putting it back together though...so I
    guess there won't be a second chance to clean it.
    I'd recommend getting that 70-210 first, and use it's macro setting to
    see if macro is something you're really interested in. It's been
    awhile since I used mine, but that doesn't stop me from wanting a good
    dedicated macro lens. That 50mm and the 100mm FD models are both
    worth looking into.
    Slingblade, Feb 9, 2004
  9. Fred Huint

    Chris Guest

    I clean my own microscope's lenses, so I don't have any problems going
    inside a camera lens. Is fungus a common problem? I notice someone was
    mentioning mold or fungus on a set of negatives, and I've seen afew comments
    here and there on the net about fungus inside lenses.
    The 70-210 would probably be the largest lens in my arsenal. I was looking
    at a 300mm F5.6, but wasn't sure if I'd be needing that big a lens.

    Here's my current lens want-list...

    28mm F2.8 wth 52mm thr.
    50mm F1.4 also with 52mm thr.
    135mm F3.5 breech with the 55 or 58mm thr., whichever they end up being ;-)
    200mm F4 with 52mm thr.
    300mm F5.6 with 58mm thr.

    Most of these come with caps, and all are in good condition for under $200.
    I figure if they're cap-less, I can get caps to fit the thread for cheap.

    I thought about getting most or all my lenses with the same size thread, but
    I guess I can go with alittle variety on the larger lenses. Having the
    smaller ones using the 52 is good enough.

    One trick I thought about for the loose filters, you might consider gluing a
    cannibalized rubberband along the inside of the filter, providing abit of
    grip. I figure if I get afew spare caps and filters I can experiment.
    There's always a way. Those o-ring seals are basically the same as a
    rubberband, but can be more costly than a box of 100 or so.
    Chris, Feb 9, 2004
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