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article imageNew Megazoom Lenses Make Life Easier For The Photographer

By Digital Journal Staff     Sep 30, 2000 in Technology
Cologne (dpa) - The days of dragging around a clutter of lenses to cater for differing conditions are at an end for many photographers now that new megazoom lenses are being produced for standard single lens reflex cameras.
These new relatively lightweight lenses have little in common with the old standard zooms that offered a focal length range from 35 to 70 millimetres.
Japanese optical companies like Tamron, Sigma, Vivitar and Tokina are now offering lenses that have a range from the 28 millimetre wide-angle to 300 millimetres. These new lenses are also considerably smaller than the old standard zoom of 20 years ago, measuring 10 centimetres in length or less.
The secret lies in the use of aspherical lenses, which help to correct for optical aberrations, particularly at the edges of the lenses.
"The technology has been around since the beginning of the 20th century, but manufacturing them proved difficult," Markus Wiederspahn of Carl Zeiss in Oberkochen, Germany, says.
The boom in megazooms began at the beginning of the 1990s, when Tamron brought out a lens with focal lengths ranging between 28 and 200 millimetres.
The company has since made considerable improvements, reducing the minimum focusing distance to 49 centimetres from 2.1 metres with the original. Optical quality has also improved.
SLR cameras are now often sold in a package with universal zooms made by Tamron or its competitors. "The 28-200 has become the standard lens," says Joerg Rossius, who works for a photographic retailer in the town of Mainz.
He believes the process has far from run its course, and that the 28-300 lens could take over in the medium term, although at more than 500 dollars it is currently considerably more expensive than the 28- 200 at between 250 and 400 dollars.
"I am quite sure that many people are dreaming of the days when they will have a 28-400 lens," Stein says, although he is not able to predict when these lenses will reach the market.
Canon already produces a 35-350 and is adding a 28-200 this year, while Sigma recently presented a 50-500 millimetre lens to the public.
But these new lenses do impose restrictions. Aperture size is restricted and other compromises have to be made that can affect picture quality.
A recent German test on 28-300 millimetre zoom lenses was not entirely convincing. The testers found considerable optical aberration compared with standard lenses.
More about Cameras, Zoom, Photography, Lenses, Fuji
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