Yesterday an early birthday present to myself arrived. I’d bought a new lens.

Why? Well my current lens, which came with the camera when I bought it, is a 28-135mm zoom. This was perfectly adequate for most situations, but I often found myself wanting something a little wider. I started looking around for so-called “ultrazooms”, which go from very wide to a long telephoto. Often with lenses like this you have to sacrifice a little image quality, autofocussing speed, or colour fidelity, but Tamron products seem to get fairly good reviews in this respect, so I took the plunge and got an extremely competitively-priced 18-200mm.

To get an idea of the difference that makes, here’s a shot of our bookshelf with my old lens. All shots taken from about a metre and a half away.



And here’s the new lens at its widest setting. Yes, there’s some distortion at the edges, but I can live with that, depending on what kind of photo I’m taking.



And then the far end of the zoom on the old lens, taken from the same position.



And the new one.



Buying an ultrazoom is mainly a practical consideration for me. Yes, I could buy a series of expensive prime lenses offering optimal quality in any situation, and a large kit bag to carry them all around in, but in reality that’s not going to work. A lot of my photos are taken while travelling with three children, and often I only have a few seconds to grab shots before we have to  move on or am distracted by someone tugging at my trouser leg asking for an ice cream, or I have to run off to stop someone running across a busy street or someone urgently needs the toilet. This lens meets most of my needs with a minimum of fuss.

And why did I buy it so early? Partly because I’m impatient, but also because I want to practice with it a little before my next trip, which is a long weekend in Budapest on my actual birthday. With no kids.

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