What is a zoom lens?

The zoom lens is a complex lens that allows the photographer to vary the focal length at will, within a predetermined range. For example, a zoom lens can have a range from 24mm (i.e. wide angle) to 400mm, a fairly powerful telephoto.

Leica Zoom Lens Lumix FZ1000 - Photo © Charles Martel 2015

Click to enlarge: Leica Zoom Lens on a Lumix (Panasonic) FZ1000 Bridge Camera – Photo © Charles Martel 2015

The advantages of zoom lenses are:

  1. Extreme flexibility of use
  2. Eliminating the need to change lenses
  3. frequently during a photography session.
  4. Eliminating the need to carry a  bag full of the said lenses.

Zoom lenses were first developed for the movie industry because they allow for close-up shots and then moving away from the subject (or the reverse), very smoothly. Something impossible to do with fixed lenses.

The disadvantages of zooms are:

  1. The weight and size of the lens, compared with a fixed focal length,
  2. The complexity of the optics, making them more expensive zoom,
  3. The sharpness of the image may be less good than that of a fixed lens,
  4. A maximum aperture reduced compared to the majority of the fixed objectives.

In photography, it’s all about compromise. The zoom lens is one, among many others.

But one of the advantages of the zoom was the possibility of creating a new class of camera, potentially replacing cameras with interchangeable lenses. Devices built around a powerful zoom, permanently attached to the housing. This type of camera is called a “bridge camera”.

I will shortly devote a complete series of articles to the various types of cameras, including the bridge camera, and their respective advantages and disadvantages. So, please stay tuned!

Did you find this article interesting? Or that it is flawed in some way? Please let me know what you think below! Your comments are invaluable to me and will help me improve this site!

© Charles Martel 2015 To Web editors: Please place a link to this article on your site, if you believe that it may be of interest to your readers. If you wish to republish it on your site, please contact me first, via the contact page above. Thank you!

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