Buyer's Guide 2007: Lens Strategy
How to select the right mix of lenses for your photography
STANDARD ZOOM LENSES
For years, the most common lens issued in 35mm camera kits was a normal 50mm prime lens. In recent years, however, with tremendous improvements in zoom-lens technology and image quality, most manufacturers now offer standard zooms in their camera kits. Not just a normal lens, these zooms frequently cover the middle of the focal-length spectrum and then some. A standard zoom frequently covers a range from slightly wide-angle to short telephoto.
Extremely versatile for everyday use, standard zooms are getting faster and better than ever before. Add to the mix purely digital lenses, and photographers are able to cover more focal lengths with an even lighter lens than the 50mm primes of days gone by. These nouveau-normal lenses are ideal for situations in which everything from a slightly wide-angle to a short telephoto is appropriate, which means you never have to change lenses or worry about sacrificing optical quality.
The newest 18-55mm digital lens from Nikon offers the 35mm-equivalent coverage of a 27-82mm zoom. The ultra-compact 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor utilizes seven elements in five groups, including both ED glass and hybrid aspherical lens elements, and it weighs in at just 6.5 ounces. Nikon's D-Type lenses communicate especially well with digital cameras and flashes to provide distance information for improved flash and ambient exposures, and the Silent Wave Motor technology makes autofocusing fast and quiet.
With Sony's entrance into the 35mm-format digital SLR market comes a slew of new lenses from one of the biggest names in electronics. The SAL-1870 is an 18-70mm zoom with a variable maximum aperture of ƒ/3.5-5.6. It covers, in 35mm terms, everything from a 27mm wide-angle to 105mm at the telephoto end. This makes it an ideal one-stop shop for photographers with room for only one lens in their budget. An excellent all-around lens for the Sony DSLR-A100, this standard zoom includes aspherical, extra-low dispersion glass and an unbelievably affordable price.