To super zoom or not to super zoom.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by LethalWolfe, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    Jan 11, 2002
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    #1
    After a while away from photography (15 years or so to be exact) I'm getting back into it. Last year I received a Sony NEX 5 (original model) as a gift and I love the form factor so I'm slowly expanding my lens collection. I photograph a lot when I go hiking/mountain biking and the 18-55 just doesn't give me the reach I want at times so I'm eyeballing Sony's 18-200 (the original model, not the LE version, and used as I couldn't stomach paying retail).

    Sony makes a 55-210 but then I'd feel obligated to keep the 18-55 on me as well. The 55-210 can be had for less than half the price of the 18-200 but not carrying a second lens with me is very appealing.

    Is there anything I'm overlooking? Besides price what are the downsides of getting the 18-200 for daytime nature photography? Tamaron makes an e-mount 18-200 but it's not quite as well reviewed as the Sony and it's pretty close in price.
     
  2. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

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    #2
    Do you mean this one? It's listed as a previous version on B&H.

    The main issue with a super zoom is the fairly small maximum aperture at the long end. It's 6.3 wide open at 210mm on this lens, so when you start to stop down even a bit you wind up at f/8 or even 16 before you know it. Then your shutter speed has to come down to compensate for it and you wind up losing the shot. Happens a lot in wildlife photography. My bird lens is a 120-400 Sigma that starts at 6.3 on the long end. If it wasn't on a camera with a wide sensor range that can take a high iso like 800, I'd miss a lot of bird shots. (Canon 7D)

    Dale
     
  3. LethalWolfe thread starter macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #3
    Yes, that's the 55-210 that I mentioned; the one I'm leaning towards though is the 18-200. They both have a similar aperture range.

    AFAIK there are no telephoto primes for the NEX line at this time so if I want the range I have to live with the lens being slow on the long end. I haven't done tests myself but in reviews I've read the NEX 5 produces clean looking images even with the ISO as high as 3200 and 6400 (it maxes out at 12800).
     
  4. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

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    Jul 4, 2005
    #4
    I have the 55-210. It's a great lens, stays on my camera more than any other.

    The aperture is pretty small though so you really want good light. Like bright. REALLY bright.

    It is very nice though.

    This is a photo taken with the 5N, ISO500 at F8. Fully zoomed in. I really like this lens, much more than the 18-55 which feels very flimsy to me.
     

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  5. LethalWolfe thread starter macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #5
    Yeah, this would defiantly just be a 'broad daylight' kinda lens. Do you miss not being able to go wider than 55 with that lens? If I went with the 55-210 I guess I could keep the 16mm pancake lens in my pocket to have the option to go wide (and crop it in post if the 16 was too wide).
     
  6. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

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    #6
    No, I have the 16mm and a Pentax 28mm 2.8. The 18-55 seems like the least-used lens in my kit.

    The 16mm fits in my pocket, the 55-210 stays on the camera and I normally take one more normal prime.
     
  7. LethalWolfe thread starter macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #7
    Thanks for the feedback. The 55-210 is a much cheaper way to go so I might do that and keep the 16mm in my pocket. Decisison, decisions...:D
     
  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #8
    Kenko makes a 400mm f/8 T-mount lens, but I don't know how much the IQ sucks or what sort of ISO performance the NEX has.

    Paul
     
  9. LethalWolfe thread starter macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #9
    Thanks, I'll look into it.

    For kicks, a few days ago I put a 3x vivatar teleconverter onto an old Takumar 300mm lens and used a converter to attach that to my NEX 5. All told it was about a 1350mm equivalent franken-beast. Shot fine (if a bit unwieldy) at high noon but it wouldn't recommend it once the sun starts going down. lol
     
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #10
    Before I add my peanuts to the gallery I'll just say I don't have a Sony camera or any Sony lenses.

    What I can say is that there is far greater complexity to making a lens that goes from wide to tele than from standard to tele or tele to tele. In this, often there are some compromises made with wide to tele zooms.

    You may want to look up the lens tests for the 18-200 and the 55-200. Perhaps DPReview or DXO has some info for you. If I were in your shoes, I would get the 55-200 and keep your shorter wide to short tele lens. Chances are the 55-200 is lighter and perhaps sharper than the 18-200 which makes it a good fit for travel/hiking etc.

    The alternative is to find faster primes and be prepared to swap them out as needed. Back when, I used Nikon and had the 17-55 and the 70-200 and was able to use just those two lenses for about 95 percent of my captures.
    Presently I am in that other camp - Fuji and have the 18-55, 55-200 and 35 prime 1.4 lens (equivalent to a 50mm on full frame).

    One other consideration is of course filter accessories. Often the longer zooms that cover requires careful considerations when using filters and other items that influence light entering the lens (lens shades etc.).

    Hope you find what works for you.
     
  11. LethalWolfe thread starter macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #11
    The 55-210 is much lighter (and much less expensive) so I think it comes down to convenience factor for me. Both the 55-210 and 18-200 get very good reviews but I haven't looked for a lens test comparison yet (which is a good suggestion). I plan on hitting a local camera store too that has both lens so I can get some hands on time with both as well.
     
  12. Oracle1729 macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 4, 2009
    #12
    If you're starting to have more advanced needs, you may also want to reconsider Sony before you start making a big investment in glass. Sony is a bad joke in photography because they insist on doing everything proprietary.

    If you ever wanted to do Studio work, you can't even connect to real flashes without a super-special Sony adapter (piece of plastic with a few wires), for $200. The only reason your Nex 5 even has an SD card slot is because Sony was the butt of so many jokes even they got embarrassed.

    Not to derail your thread, but before dropping that kind of money on glass, make sure it's a system that will grow with you.
     
  13. LethalWolfe thread starter macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #13
    It's a legit concern and I appreciate you bringing it up. Long story short, I received an NEX 5 (original model) as a present last year and though, at the time, it probably wasn't a camera I would've picked myself I've actually come to really like it. The small size is a big plus as it's very easy to take along hiking or cycling and outdoor photography is where I seem to have the most fun.

    I had reservations about the e-mount system too (Memory Stick, really Sony?) but after kicking around w/the camera for a year I feel comfortable enough to start spending money on some glass. My ceiling for photography is probably pretty low (documenting interesting things I see on my hikes, family moments and tinkering with some macro photography of electronics). On a hike a while back I was lucky enough to see a California Condor but the 18-55 on my NEX wasn't long enough to get a good shot of it and it's for rare moments like that that I'm seeking out a longer lens.

    Again, thank you for bringing it up though. It's always good to reevaluate before spending hundreds of dollars!
     
  14. trewyn15 macrumors 6502

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    May 13, 2013
    #14
    Many people use superzooms and love them, many people are left uspet.

    I for one would love a superzoom in my collection, but I'm kind of a pixel-peeper or at least I am as much as I can with the 12MP sensor on my T3.

    For this reason in specific I keep my Tamron 17-50 VC and 70-300 VC around all the time. Better IQ in the photos that a superzoom just can't do generally.

    If you have a purpose for it and don't mind the slight decrease in IQ then by all means I say go for it!
     
  15. LethalWolfe thread starter macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #15
    Just wanted to update this thread real quick. I ended up getting the 18-200 used from B&H at a great price. I've taken it on couple of hikes already and love the range it gives me. It's not the fastest of lenses but for primarily daytime use it gets the job done and the IQ is very close to the 55-210 I was considering (for me, not having to carry the 18-55 + the 55-210 is worth the small IQ hit).

    Lastly, thank you to everyone that took time to post their advice.:)
     
  16. Ubele macrumors 6502a

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    Mar 20, 2008
    #16
    Thanks for the update! I bought a NEX 6 last fall and have been pondering the 55-210 vs. the 18-200, as well. I'm leaning toward the latter if I can find one at a good price (or save my money).
     
  17. Melizard macrumors 6502

    Melizard

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    #17
    I love my 18-200. Yes, it's not the fastest lens, but it's been great to learn with and is great for traveling!
     
  18. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #18
    When I bought my NEX-7 two years ago I also bought the Sony/Zeiss 18-200 lens and have loved it. That said, there have been times when I've wished for a little less weight and am now considering also picking up a 55-210mm for those times when I want the reach at the longer end and not as much weight overall.
     
  19. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    Oct 25, 2008
    #19
    Good point on using to learn. I tend to stay away from zooms of this sort but always glad when others get them and love them.

    There are plenty of good learning exercises that don't require "thought" but help develop craft. You might find a place you can visit often (such as a lively park) and keep your lens at 18mm for the day. Come back another day with the lens set perhaps at 35mm and take similar shots and compare...continue right up to 200. You'll find that when you compare, you will notice various things that look quite different between your images based on the nature of the focal length you used. You'll also begin to notice that sometimes it is worth coming in physically closer for a shot than using the longer part of the zoom and visa-versa.

    Hope you enjoy and the lens serves you well.

    -------------
    Fuji X-E1, Fuji X-E2, 35/1,4 18-55, 55-200
    Nikon FM2, 105 1:1 macro 2.8 (retired)
    Fujica WS645 (retired)
    Minolta Flash/Ambient meter IV
     
  20. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #20
    Your exercise teaches people to use their feet. The best way is to use that blue massing tape to lock down the zoom ring. The blue tape comes off clean if you remove it within 24 hours.

    What you find is the the shorter lens where you walked up closer looks best for many shots. Perspective is actually determined ENTIRELY by subject to camera distance and not the focal length. The shorter subject-camera distance mostly "wins". The exception is portraits

    Most people, beginners especially use the zoom for the wrong reason. The correct way is to place the camera for control of persecutive and the background and then use the zoom to crop the feel of view. The wrong way is to use the zoom to avoid thing sing about camera to subject distance.
     
  21. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #21
    On a full frame camera, capturing the same subject at approximately the same size between say a 105mm lens and a 24 lens looks quite different as does the amount of distance (as you mention) requires to get the subject at the same approximate size in the frame. This is why it is a good exercise to learn when it is best to to use wide angles vs longer focal lengths. We however may disagree on perspective. I have shot city scenes with longer lenses to compress buildings and also excellent city scenes with wide lenses to exaggerate both perspective and give a sense of vastness or distance. It really depends on the subject matter and what one is trying to capture. I think portrait as you gave as example is a perfect one for why wide angle is not the best choice. We both failed to mention the impact of the F-stop but that is a topic for another time.
     
  22. Melizard macrumors 6502

    Melizard

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    #22
    I don't think there is a wrong way to learn or a wrong way to use a zoom, it's all a learning curve. For instance, sometimes you can't get close enough to an object to get the perspective you want or to get the detail you want. Maybe you want to try different cropping or framing without switching lenses. Maybe you just want to invest less money in lenses while you are still learning and don't know which focal length you like to work with most. I find posts like yours to be very intimidating towards beginners, intentional or not.
     

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