Talking about the Super Zoom Lens

The Super Zoom

One of the more perplexing problems I faced as a photographer was how to lighten my load and strive for more simplicity. Lightening my load used to be a constant challenge. Like many of you, my camera bag got heavier and heavier as I collected DSLRs, lenses and accessories. Now its simpler for me. I lighten my load, am using less equipment and obtaining the same result quality.

Jonquil flowers

An increasing trend in recent years is the addition of the all-in-one zoom lens. I see many people now using them and the rate is increasing, and I’m seeing unpredicted excellent results in their use of all-in-one zoom lenses. This doesn’t mean that super zooms don’t contain tradeoffs, they do.

In general, super zooms are extremely convenient. To use an all in one lens that takes care of wide angle thru super zoom makes photography simple in a big way. Now I can get 16mm-300mm or 18mm-300mm or longer. That is most often enough range for just about any shooting situation I encounter. You never need to change lenses and carry around an entire backpack full of them. I've cut down the amount of dust that invades my image sensors because I only mount a single lens on, and rarely have have a need to take it off. Its ease and convenience that I'm gaining.

On the other hand, I've given up an important capability of the prime lens fixed focal length which gives me the best available image quality for any style of shooting. Smaller and higher quality f/2.8 zooms in the 17mm thru 70mm range are indeed better quality, but also come at a much higher pricel. The basic trade off is image quality, but the area between regular zooms/primes and super zooms is quickly shrinking. I’ve used an earlier version of the Sigma 18-200 on my Nikon DSLR for 5 years, however the newer 16-300mm Tamron I have now is vastly improved in image quality. I still achieve better results with my pro-glass, however for many of my images, especially everyday shooting, the 16-300 works very well, which also includes vibration reduction to boot! which is great for hand held shots, even though I try to employ a tripod for landscape and architectural images as much as possible.

Lens speed:

Super zooms maximum aperture is most often variable at f/3.5 to f/6.3 where higher quality primes lenses are larger and faster, f/1.4 to f/2.8


Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO Zoom LensTamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD MACRO Zoom Lens

This is the now lens I have keep on my “go to” DSLR. Purchased several months ago, I have not removed it for my personal photography. I’ve been pleased with the results to date, and have put this lens through its paces and written an in-depth review. Like most pieces of equipment, you need to know both its strengths and its weaknesses. I shoot buildings and landscapes at the 16mm extreme which gives me extra crop ability. 20mm thru 250mm gives me sharper images. Many of my images are captured in the f/8 to f/20 range also, so I’m using more of the lenses sweet spot as opposed to using extreme aperture settings, another way to obtain better results. Again, so far I have been happy, but I’m an experienced using many lenses and I try to leverage my equipments strong points and tend to avoid settings that stretch quality. You can get this lens for under $600 U.S. using the present $100 rebate offer available from Tamron.



Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS LensCanon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Zoom Lens

I know several people who use this lens on their digital rebels and getting very good results. Not noted for great sharpness at the extreme wide zoom end, this lens is still a great everyday walkaround lens for the Canon shooter. Like any of the options shared here, its not for serious professional photography. Its a first-rate everyday “kit” and travel lens. You can expect the Nikon F quality you’ve come to appreciate here. Lets face it, Canon makes great glass and they are not about to ruin their image by selling junk, and this is a favored lens among its following. No its not going to attain the quality of an "L" designated lens, and we cannot expect that. But for around $900 US, and a complete range of 18mm thru 200mm you can expect a decent quality “kit” lens. Its a lens that I would much prefer to have mounted on my camera than the 18-55mm you’ll find packaged with a Canon DSLR. If you have more than one Canon DSLR, this is a no-brainer to keep on the older version or your “second” camera.

At last check, the lens was available for around $700.



Nikon DX Nikkor 18-300mm ED VR LensNikon DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR superzoom lens

Nikon is shipping its second generation of its all-in-one lens for their Nikon digital SLRs, Nikon DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR superzoom lens. I’ve shot with this lens, obtaining great photos, equivalent to that of both other brands mentioned here. One area that impresses me above the others is the build quality you get on this Nikkor lens. Its built to last, and I believe any Nikon shooter (except full frame) should examine this lens for their D-series Nikon DSLRs. I absolutely love the quality, its durability and the surprising good images with this lens. I use pro-glass mounted on my Nikon bodies that well surpass the abilities of this lens, but I don’t hesitate to use it on quick trips and everyday walkaround photography where lugging a huge backpack is unthinkable.

Like its Canon counterpart, I’ve seen excellent results with this lens from fellow photographers. I’ve seen may photos shot with this lens I'm always amazed when I see the work photographers create with this lens. Is it going to be equivalent the quality of what you obtain with Nikon’s best prime lenses? No, but pro quality results are possible when the lens is handled correctly and sharp shooting techniques are employed. Having VR (vibration reduction) is a big plus if you travel or on the go and just like the Tamron and Canon versions, the zoom range is just too handy to pass up.

Revised Aug 1. 2016