Travel light with su­per­zoom lenses that go from wide-an­gle to su­per-tele­photo

Su­per­size your zoom range with a lens that’s geared up for hol­i­days and travel. Matthew Richards re­veals the best buys

NPhoto - - Contents -

Hav­ing a big DSLR kit with plenty of lenses is great: you can choose the right tool to suit ev­ery photo op­por­tu­nity. Or is it? No­body re­ally en­joys be­ing weighed down by a heavy cam­era bag when they’re out and about. Whether you’re ex­plor­ing city streets and land­marks, trekking into the hills, or jour­ney­ing to the other side of the world, there’s a lot to be said for trav­el­ling light.

You can’t travel much lighter than with a sin­gle lens fixed to your cam­era, and that’s where ‘su­per­zooms’ come in. They’re de­signed to take you all the way from wide-an­gle view­ing to long tele­photo reach, as well as cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing in be­tween, with just a quick twist of the zoom ring. The ad­van­tages are three-fold: firstly, you can cut down on the size and weight of the kit you’re car­ry­ing with you; se­condly, you can re­act in­stantly to dif­fer­ent shoot­ing sce­nar­ios, with­out the fear of miss­ing shots be­cause you’re too busy rum­mag­ing around in your kit bag and swap­ping

You can’t travel much lighter than with a sin­gle lens fixed to your cam­era, and that’s where ‘su­per­zooms’ come in

the lens on your cam­era; and thirdly, you can avoid dust and dirt drift­ing into your cam­era body by not hav­ing to swap lenses in dusty en­vi­ron­ments.

The down­side, at least his­tor­i­cally, is that su­per­zooms have been some­what no­to­ri­ous for sac­ri­fic­ing im­age qual­ity in the pur­suit of giv­ing you greater zoom range. Some ex­am­ples of the breed have also tended to be quite big and heavy, so it can ac­tu­ally be a pain to use them all the time, in­stead of shoot­ing with a smaller stan­dard zoom and just switch­ing to a tele­photo lens as and when you need to.

Over the past few years, man­u­fac­tur­ers have been on a mis­sion to im­prove the per­for­mance and qual­ity of su­per­zooms, while also re­duc­ing their size and weight. Com­plex as­pher­i­cal el­e­ments are now com­mon­place in com­pet­ing de­signs. FX (full-frame) su­per­zoom lenses still tend to be fairly large and weighty, but some of the lat­est DX (APS-C) for­mat su­per­zooms are barely any big­ger or heftier than most stan­dard zoom lenses. It’s not al­ways the case though, as demon­strated by the larger of Nikon’s two 18-300mm su­per­zoom lenses.

One thing that al­ways suf­fers when try­ing to squeeze a su­per­zoom lens into a com­pact build is the aper­ture rat­ing. It’s com­mon, nowa­days, for the widest avail­able aper­ture to shrink to as lit­tle as f/6.3 to­wards the long end of the zoom range. The up­shot is that, un­der any­thing other than bright sunny light­ing, you may strug­gle to main­tain fast shut­ter speeds with­out bump­ing up your cam­era’s ISO set­ting. It’s no sur­prise, then, to dis­cover that all cur­rent su­per­zooms for Nikon DSLRs have built-in op­ti­cal im­age sta­bi­liza­tion. This en­ables you to get con­sis­tently sharp im­ages that are free from the ef­fects of cam­era-shake, at shut­ter speeds of up to around four times slower than you would oth­er­wise need.

There’s more of a mix when it comes to aut­o­fo­cus sys­tems. All of Nikon’s su­per­zoom lenses have ring-type ul­tra­sonic aut­o­fo­cus, which tends to of­fer rapid per­for­mance. Han­dling is also more re­fined, be­cause the fo­cus ring re­mains sta­tionery dur­ing aut­o­fo­cus, so you can con­cen­trate on hold­ing the cam­era and lens in a nat­u­ral, com­fort­able po­si­tion, rather than hav­ing to keep your fin­gers clear of the fo­cus ring. An­other bonus is that full-time manual fo­cus over­ride is also avail­able. These lux­u­ries are un­avail­able in the Sigma and Tam­ron lenses on test, which use elec­tric or ul­tra­sonic mo­tor-driven sys­tems, although the Tam­ron 16300mm bucks the trend, as you’ll see from our review.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.