Why You Need a Superzoom Lens

The superzoom lens is a relatively new option for photographers to add to their arsenal, and although initially scoffed at, many are adopting them as a brilliant all-round option.

When I clicked this video, I did so as a way of listening outside my echo chamber. For as long as I can remember, I have had no interest or affection for superzoom lenses. Before they were possible to the degree they are now, the closest option was nearly-wide at their widest and a mid-range tele at their most zoomed-in. These lenses were often referred to (in some of the communities I was a part of, at least) as walkaround lenses; lenses you could throw on your camera when you're out for the day and cover most of what you'd need.

I tried them several times, I even owned one (or two?) and they just didn't do it for me. I was typically disappointed with the results and in almost every scenario that didn't require me to have to change from 35mm to 150mm in under 10 seconds, they felt like the half-measure Mike Ehrmantraut warned us against.

Well, now this brand of lens has been pushed to more of an extreme with "superzoom" lenses; might I point to the frankly absurd, Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD? The USP is of course versatility, which extends not only to what you can shoot, but you few lenses you can bring with you if you choose. But, is it worth it? Well, Tony and Chelsea Northrup believe so; what do you think?

Log in or register to post comments
1 Comment
Riley Johnson's picture

I've been walking around with a 24-200 f/4-6.3 on my camera for most of my wanderings lately. I really like it, but it's made me overconfident in it and recently it really did show it's shortcomings indoors when I knew I should have put on the 24-70 f/4 or the 24 f/1.8. The second you move to 25mm, it hits f/4.5 and continues upward quickly. Normally this is ok, since I'm usually outdoors, but I was shooting a video indoors, which is a rare occurrence for me, and it was having to use ISO 6400 and 12800 to get the 60 FPS, that I had set it to go after. I need to learn a little more about video and start using 24 FPS instead, but it was what I had set it to when I got the camera, and probably the 2nd or 3rd video I've ever shot on it.

All in all, it has been a great lens, but you do quickly find the shortcomings of it in low light, at the extremes of it's focal range and aperture range it vignettes a bit (also harder than normal vignetting to correct), etc. If you're out traveling, it's great, but if you have a purpose to be out shooting, I recommend something more purposeful to what looking to capture.