Monday, June 30, 2008
Toolbox: Wide Zooms
Get an exciting perspective on portraits, scenics and more with these zoom lenses
Panasonic 14-50mm ƒ/2.8-3.5 Leica D Vario-Elmarit Aspherical MEGA O.I.S. Developed by Leica as the kit lens for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1, Panasonic's 14-50mm (28-100mm 35mm equivalent) is also available separately for any mount in the Olympus-pioneered Four Thirds System, including Olympus' E-series cameras (as well as the Panasonic DMC-L10 D-SLR). The incorporated MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) cleans up blur from hand shake, providing more than three stops of correction below the conventional hand-shake limit (1/focal length) when combined with the Venus Engine PLUS LSI processing of Panasonic's D-SLRs. Two large-diameter aspherical lenses capture images with minimal distortion, and multicoated lens elements reduce ghosting and flare to a minimum. Estimated Street Price: $899.
Pentax smc P-DA 18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 ED AL (IF) With an incredible all-in-one 13.9x zoom range, the 18-250mm has an approximate focal-range equivalent of 27.5-383mm in a 35mm format, extending with a twist from wide-angle easily into full telephoto. The 18-250mm has an angle- of-view range from six to 76 degrees and a minimum focusing distance of only 18 inches. A low-dispersion (LD) glass element and an anomalous-dispersion (AD) lens in the first lens group work together to minimize chromatic aberration, while Internal Surface Coatings and multiple-layer coating technologies minimize reflections while reducing image degradation. The Inner-Focus mechanism avoids lens extension during focusing, and a Zoom Lock Mechanism prevents unwanted movement that could occur from the weight of the heavy barrel. Estimated Street Price: $469.
Sigma 17-70mm ƒ/2.8-4.5 DC Macro For Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sigma and Sony Alpha digital camera bodies, this 17-70mm zoom offers a large aperture at 17mm for faster shooting in low-light situations. The wide-angle ranges slightly in 35mm equivalence by sensor size, but generally will give an approximate focal range from 25mm to 105mm, making it a solid, all-around zoom to carry. With a maximum magnification of 1:2.3 and a minimum focusing distance of only 7.9 inches, this is a functional macro lens for large close-ups of small subjects. A special-low-dispersion glass element and two aspherical lenses allow for the correction of various distortions and aberrations. The inner focusing system further prevents the front of the lens from rotating, making it a noteworthy choice for circular polarizing filters (72mm thread). A Zoom Lock Switch also stops "zoom creep" during transportation. Estimated Street Price: $399.
Sony DT 18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 High-Magnification Zoom A compact wide-angle to long-telephoto zoom, the 18-250mm offers a potent 14x focal range, the equivalent of 27mm to an incredible 375mm on a 35mm camera. At 15.5 ounces and a length of only 3.4 inches, this lens is extremely portable and convenient, a hallmark of the Sony Alpha DSLR systems. Sony's DT lenses employ a design specifically corrected for the diameter of APS-C-sized image sensors, including 16 lens elements in 13 groups with extra-low-dispersion glass to minimize flare and reduce chromatic aberration. The internal lens elements also provide the focus so the overall length of the barrel doesn't change, providing faster focus and steadier balance. Estimated Street Price: $499.
Tamron AF17-50mm ƒ/2.8 Di-II LD Aspherical Designed for Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony APS-C mounts, the fast and constant aperture of this lens, coupled with the large depth of field of the ƒ/32 minimum aperture, make this a great all-around standard zoom solution. The optical glass is Extra Refractive Index (XR) for optimization of optical distribution and reduced aberration. The low-dispersion (LD) glass element compensates for on-axis and lateral chromatic aberration for achieving optical performance across the entire zoom range. With a minimum focus distance of 10.6 inches over the whole zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4.5 (which translates to 1:3 on a 35mm equivalent), the 17-50mm also provides macro-shooting abilities. There's a Zoom Lock, and the filter diameter is a standard 67mm. Estimated Street Price: From $379 to $419, depending on mount.
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