Ultrazoom

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.

28mm:

ultrazoom28

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.

18mm:

ultrazoom18

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

135mm:

ultrazoom135

And the new one.

200mm:

ultrazoom200

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.