Lenses and Optics

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Polytone, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. Polytone

    Polytone Guest

    Hi. I have some concerns about the optical quality of the built-in zoom
    lenses that come with the various prosumer digital cameras (Canon G3/G5,
    Olympus 5050, Nikon 5400/5700, etc) and how they compare to prime,
    fixed-focal length lenses on SLR's (like a standard 50mm 1.4 or 1.8).

    I come from background of manual 35mm SLR's.

    In the SLR world, fixed prime lenses are the way to go. It is not really
    possible to get a decent zoom lens for less than $350...the really good ones
    can be in the thousands (like the Canon L series). Many SLR bodies now offer
    inexpensive "kit zooms" (usually about 28-80mm) which suck really badly. For
    the same price as most of these crappy kit zooms, newbies to the SLR world
    are better off with a standard 50mm 1.8 prime lens.

    In the digicam world, I have not seen too many of the prosumer cameras come
    with a standard fixed prime lense. The rage is to supply a big bad zoom lens
    as a MAJOR selling point.

    The same rage happened in the realm of the point and shoot film cameras when
    they were at their peak. Yes, the zooms got longer and the point and shoot
    cameras got smaller, but it was always universally understood that the best
    (optically) 35mm point and shoot film cameras had a fixed lens instead of a
    zoom (Contax T3, Leica MiniLux, Yashica T4/T5, Olympus Stylus Epic, etc).

    Most of the highest rated digicams offer zooms anywhere from 3X to 10X as
    the built-in (if I may) "kit" lens. Is it possible for such an inexpensive
    long lens to give good optics at all focal lengths? At the wide end, how do
    they compare to fixed prime lenses?

    Let's keep megapixels out of the equation and concentrate on optics.

    For Example:

    Canon users, how does a $350 EOS 28mm-105mm/3.5 SLR zoom lens compare to the
    built-in zoom lens on the G3 digital camera (especially considering the fact
    that I could buy a new G3 from Buydig.com for $450)???

    Yes, I understand that is why DSLR's cost so much at this time.

    Why don't the major prosumer models have a sister model with a fixed lens?
    For example....the Canon G4 could be a G3 without the zoom, just a good
    fixed-focal lenth lens comparable to a 50mm 1.4? Would that improve image
    quality? Would there be a market for this? Or is everyone just obsessed with
    zooms?

    Am I missing something?

    Or do digital lenses measure up differently than analog lenses?

    I really would like to buy a nice 4 or 5 Megapixel camera with a hot shoe. I
    would rather not spend the money on an entry level DSLR. I want to wait a
    few years...for the same reasons most of you are waiting. I just want to
    know if I will be getting a good lens. All of the sample pics I have seen
    from these cameras look awesome on the compuer screen. How much difference
    could I expect if they are printed on Kodak Royal paper?

    Signed,

    Susan-CONFUSED IN CONNECTICUT

    PS. Sorry if I accidentally double posted this. My news server is
    unreliable.
     
    Polytone, Jul 24, 2003
    #1
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  2. Polytone

    Charlie D Guest

    "Polytone" <> wrote:


    > Most of the highest rated digicams offer zooms anywhere from 3X to 10X as
    > the built-in (if I may) "kit" lens. Is it possible for such an inexpensive
    > long lens to give good optics at all focal lengths?


    No. All the "prosumer" digicam zooms suck.
    I have an Oly 5050 and a 3x zoom. With the barrel distortion and CA it
    has, it would have been laughed off the pages of Pop Photo mag "back in
    the days."

    The 10 x are, of course even worse due to more compromises.

    The bottom line is that you get what you pay for.
    If you want excellent quality, get a DSLR and fit it with prime lenses
    or extremely expensive zooms.

    P.S.
    I LOVE my 5050 for what it is.

    --
    Charlie Dilks
    Newark, DE USA
     
    Charlie D, Jul 24, 2003
    #2
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  3. Polytone

    Jim Townsend Guest

    Polytone wrote:


    >
    > Or do digital lenses measure up differently than analog lenses?


    Yes they do.

    Digicam lenses have to be far better optically than their 35mm counterparts.

    Consider that they are focusing on an imaging device smaller than your little
    fingernail and the resultant images are being blown up to sizes greater than
    8x10. You need pretty good glass to do that.

    > I really would like to buy a nice 4 or 5 Megapixel camera with a hot shoe. I
    > would rather not spend the money on an entry level DSLR. I want to wait a
    > few years...for the same reasons most of you are waiting. I just want to
    > know if I will be getting a good lens. All of the sample pics I have seen
    > from these cameras look awesome on the compuer screen. How much difference
    > could I expect if they are printed on Kodak Royal paper?


    From my experience, they generally look better printed on real photopaper..
     
    Jim Townsend, Jul 24, 2003
    #3
  4. In article <mrUTa.351$>, Polytone
    <> wrote:

    > ... Most of the highest rated digicams offer zooms anywhere from 3X to 10X as
    > the built-in (if I may) "kit" lens. Is it possible for such an inexpensive
    > long lens to give good optics at all focal lengths? At the wide end, how do
    > they compare to fixed prime lenses?
    >
    > Let's keep megapixels out of the equation and concentrate on optics. ...


    In digital cameras, it's hard to concentrate solely on optics because
    the entire imaging system is necessary to see the image results. Optics
    plays an important role, but sensor design, noise control and
    suppression, Bayer filtering, etc all come into play.

    > ..Why don't the major prosumer models have a sister model with a fixed lens?


    Mostly because there's so little money in it. Even in the 35mm SLR
    world, zooms have been consistently outselling fixed focal length
    lenses for a long time in the consumer marketplace.

    > ..Am I missing something?


    Yes and no. Most users demand more flexibility than a single focal
    length, fixed lens camera offers, or at least believe that tney need
    it. Most photographers today feel crippled by not having a lot of focal
    length options at their disposal, even though it is not necessary for a
    lot of photos.

    I shoot with a Sony F717, which has an excellent Zeiss designed 5:1
    zoom lens with a focal length range of 39-190mm equivalent and good
    speed (f/2-2.4 max). At the wide end it has a lot of barrel distortion,
    but otherwise it is a remarkably good performer with very high
    resolution and contrast. The camera's imaging system is good enough to
    make use of that performance with good noise control at ISO 100.

    I find I'm most often using the camera at or between the 50-70mm focal
    length equivalent field of view, and the results there are comparable
    to what I am used to seeing from high end 35mm single focal length
    lenses.

    > I really would like to buy a nice 4 or 5 Megapixel camera with a hot shoe. I
    > would rather not spend the money on an entry level DSLR. I want to wait a
    > few years...for the same reasons most of you are waiting. I just want to
    > know if I will be getting a good lens. All of the sample pics I have seen
    > from these cameras look awesome on the compuer screen. How much difference
    > could I expect if they are printed on Kodak Royal paper?


    Personally, I'd not wait. The Olympus 5050, Canon G3/G5, Sony F717
    class cameras of today are excellent performers, produce high quality
    prints at sizes up to 8x10 and maybe to 11x17 if you're careful with
    your picture taking and post-processing.

    The paradigm shift required is to think of the whole imaging process,
    not just the lens or the sensor.

    Godfrey
     
    Godfrey DiGiorgi, Jul 24, 2003
    #4
  5. Polytone

    Mxsmanic Guest

    John Navas writes:

    > On the contrary -- some cameras with fixed lenses
    > (e.g., Olympus E-10 & E-20) have excellent optics.


    Compared to what? Leica and Zeiss SLR lenses?

    --
    Transpose hotmail and mxsmanic in my e-mail address to reach me directly.
     
    Mxsmanic, Jul 25, 2003
    #5
  6. Polytone

    John Navas Guest

    [POSTED TO rec.photo.digital - REPLY ON USENET PLEASE]

    In <> on Fri, 25 Jul 2003 09:00:24
    +0200, Mxsmanic <> wrote:

    >John Navas writes:
    >
    >> On the contrary -- some cameras with fixed lenses
    >> (e.g., Olympus E-10 & E-20) have excellent optics.

    >
    >Compared to what? Leica and Zeiss SLR lenses?


    Olympus SLR lenses. Also other name brands.

    --
    Best regards,
    John Navas
    [PLEASE NOTE: Ads belong *only* in rec.photo.marketplace.digital, as per
    <http://bobatkins.photo.net/info/charter.htm> <http://rpdfaq.50megs.com/>]
     
    John Navas, Jul 25, 2003
    #6
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